Medicine in the Movies

I have always been intrigued by the tongue-twisting syndromes, the pharmaceutical giant discoveries, out of one’s mind ethical scenarios and so much more that medicine has to offer. While most people associate every budding doctor as a nerd, geek or even a poindexter, it’s quite fascinating to experience how medicine has shaped the cinema and scores of its plots. Movies about psychiatric disorders have ended up becoming the best horror stories while movies about tumors, rare disorders, genetic engineering and hospitals continue to provide the much needed awe to the general audience. While working on this compilation, I was personally amused by how creative and out of world ideas can stem from the much celebrated combination of medicine and arts.

Here are the summaries/plots/introductions of feature films that have showcased the incredible fusion of topics from a terrorist hijack of an operation theatre to doctors practicing medicine against voodoo dolls.  

 14 Hours (2005 film)  Medical emergency docudrama which revolves around a hurricane and brilliance of young medical personnel who continue saving lives as the weather wreaks havoc.  5.1  
 21 and a Wake Up  This film is based on real life events, focusing on the lives of three young nurses, one of whom undertakes a treacherous journey up the Mekong River to Cambodia to save a very young Vietnamese-American girl before her life is destroyed during the American bombing of Cambodia.  5.4
 Absolon (2003)  The story about a deadly virus,a drug and a hero who takes up the task of saving the future of society.  4.2  
   Article 99  A classic comedy-drama about a Vietnam war veteran and legal issues. The film showcases fight against struggles, loopholes and corruption at a veteran’s hospital.  6.1  
 Awake (2007)  A story a young billionaire undergoing a heart transplant surgery who encounters anesthesia awareness where he discovers the plan of a murder.  6.5  
 Awakenings  A 1990 drama film on discovery of the drug L-dopa and its administration to catatonic patients. The patients wake up after years of suffering and witness a brand new life.7.8  
 Brain Dead (1990)  A 1990 psychological horror film based on a top neurosurgeon, a secretive mathematician and psychosis.    6
 The Bramble Bush  An American drama on euthanasia and a young doctor witnessing trouble from dark secrets of his past.    5.5
 Calling Dr. Death  A mystery about the death of a doctor’s wife and the practice of hypnosis.  6.1  
 The Carey treatment  At a Boston hospital, Dr. Carey becomes an amateur sleuth to help clear a colleague who’s accused of botching an illegal abortion that ends up killing a 15 year old.      6.2  
 The Citadel  Andrew Manson, a young doctor takes up his first job at a mining town in Wales. His adventures about proving the cause of persistent cough in the population is hit and he gets shocked after learning about the economic aspects that he wasn’t ready to experience.7.1
 Coma (1978)  Based on a Robin Cook novel, this highly acclaimed movie revolves around the science of coma. A mystery thriller with intentions to commit the perfect murder.6.9
 Critical Condition  Comedy about a con man alias Dr. Eddie Slattery and his management of a hospital during a power outage.  7.4
 Dead Ringers  A psychological thriller on the lives of identical twin gynecologists in the city of Toronto. Clinical depression, delusions and drug withdrawal take over the practice of infertility in this highly awarded film.7.3
 Death Nurse  A killer nurse and her brother take up the most unethical practice of killing patients while a county inspector threatens to complicate the family affair.4.9
 Doctor in Love  A British comedy film about a recently graduated intern, his love ordeals and the practice of medicine.5.7
 Dr. Cabbie  A newly arrived immigrant doctor in Canada becomes a local hero after he converts his taxi into a mobile medical clinic.6
   Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani  During the Japanese invasion of China, a young doctor joins the Chinese resistance, fights plague and continues his journey. Released in 1947, this is a classic war drama movie.6.9
 Extraordinary measures  The story about parents whose children suffer from Pompe’s disease and their effort to save their children. Biotechnology, research and the valiant efforts provide an interesting joyride.  6.4
 First Do No Harm  A drama film about a boy whose severe epilepsy, unresponsive to medications with terrible side effects, is controlled by ketogenic diet.    Unrated
 Flat liners  Five medical students, obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers a near-death experience – giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife.  5.2  
 Gross anatomy  The story of every medical student’s first year when gross anatomy is introduced. The story about a medical student and a professor with a dramatic end.  6.2  
 Heartless    A bollywood movie about anesthesia awareness with a dramatic turnaround of events.  5.1  
 The Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel  A female doctor returns from the city to her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia in the 1930s, intending to bring modern medical care to the town’s impoverished and ill-educated residents. However, she finds herself going against the local “medicine woman,” who believes that her simple, backwoods remedies and methods are sufficient and distrusts the new doctor’s “big-city” ways.6.7  
 The interns (1962)  Medical drama that focuses on the personal and professional conflicts of medical interns working under senior surgeons at a major hospital.6.5
 John QA person’s story of being diagnosed with an enlarged heart and struggles with insurance to get a proper treatment.    7.1
 Junior (1994)American buddy sci-fi comedy film based on an Austrian-American scientist who agrees to undergo a male pregnancy from a newly developed drug Expectane4.6
 Kabir Singh  Kabir Singh is a remake of a Telugu movie Arjun Reddy (2017), where a short-tempered house surgeon gets used to drugs and drinks when his girlfriend is forced to marry another person.7.1
 Love takes wings  A doctor struggling to help orphans dying from an unknown ailment while continuing the fight against her own acceptability.6.9
 Munna Bhai M.B.B.S  A gangster sets out to fulfill his father’s dream of becoming a doctor. Highly popular bollywood movie reflecting the norms of Indian society.8.1
 Not as A Stranger  A brilliant student’s journey of paying for a medical school and the experiences surrounding the entire process.6.7
 Patch Adams  The true story of a heroic man, Hunter “Patch” Adams, determined to become a medical doctor because he enjoys helping people. He ventured where no doctor had ventured before, using humour and pathos.6.8
 Pathology  A group of medical students devise a deadly game: to see which one of them can commit the perfect murder.6
 Phobia (1980)  Psychiatrist Dr. Peter Ross (Glaser) M.D. is using radical techniques on his patients to cure them of their various phobias. He becomes terrified when someone starts murdering the subjects one at a time.unrated
 The sky is pinkA bollywood movie about a girl diagnosed with SCID and pulmonary fibrosis and the regular Bollywood Masala.7.5
 Something the lord made  A medical theme drama of a surgeon, tetrology of fallot and discoveries in the field of surgery.8.2
 A Time to Love  A true story about a child’s suffering from muscular dystrophy and the changes that it introduces in the lives of everyone around.7.7
 You Don’t Know Jack  The film dramatizes the efforts of a former pathologist to help the terminally ill and the profoundly disabled end their lives.7.6
 Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story  Biography of Ben Carson who grew up to be Dr. Ben Carson, a world famous neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins.  7.7  
   Going Bongo  A newly recruited American doctor “mistakenly” volunteers to work in Africa for a month.  8.4
   The Last Angry Man    As the fiercely dedicated general practitioner who tries to help the sick, the poor, and the unfortunate in his decrepit neighborhood, Dr. Sam Abelman is a testy old man who faces life without compromise and Woodrow Thrasher is a troubled television executive fighting to preserve his career.          7
  Warriors   (2014)    Military doctors and nurse’s help critically wounded soldiers returning home from the war in Afghanistan.        4.6  
     The Young Doctors      A new doctor in the department of pathology at a large hospital gets stuck in rivalry, bureaucracy and of course, residency.        6.8  
       12 Hour Shift    Bodies start to pile up when a drug-user nurse and her cousin try to find a replacement kidney for an organ trafficker.      5.3  
 Behind the mask  Newly qualified surgeon takes the blame for his drug addict colleague after the death of their patient through neglect.    6.4
 Britannia Hospital      A movie about a reporter who is about to shoot a documentary on Britannia Hospital, an institution which mirrors the downsides of British Society. It’s about the day when the Queen Mother is to visit the hospital to inaugurate a new wing and everyone’s contribution to make Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth I’s visit (and Mick Travis’s life) a true nightmare.      6.3
   Carry on Again Doctor        Dr Nookey is disgraced and sent to a remote island hospital. He is given a secret slimming potion by a member of staff, Gladstone Screwer, and he flies back to England to fame and fortune. But others want to cash in on his good fortunes, and some just want him brought down a peg or two.   6.3
 The Doctor (1991)  When a self-centered doctor is diagnosed with cancer, he becomes better able to empathize with his patients and appreciate a life outside his career.7
 X-Ray  While receiving a routine check-up, a woman finds herself stranded on the hospital’s eighth floor, while someone dressed as a doctor is intent on her never leaving, even if it means killing any staff member who comes into contact with her.5
       The Hospital (1971)  An overburdened doctor struggles to find meaning in his life while a murderer stalks the halls of his hospital    7.2
       No Time For Tears        Doctors and nurses of a children’s hospital confront the challenges of their profession.6.3        
     No Way Out  A black doctor is assigned to treat two white racist suspects who are brothers, and when one dies, it causes tension that could start a race riot.    7.4
 Vital Signs      The story of a group of third-year students at a Los Angeles medical school and their struggles with love, their studies and one another.        5.5
 Where Does It Hurt?  A corrupt hospital administrator decides to get as much money as possible from the patients by any means necessary – lie, cheat or steal.    5.4
Sources: Wikipedia and

Dr Ripudaman Singh

Intern, GMC Patiala, Punjab

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