This is the story of the first years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States and focuses on three key elements. Dr. Don Francis, an immunologist with experience in eradicating smallpox and containing the Ebola virus, joins the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to try and understand just what this disease is. They also have deal with bureaucracy and a government that doesn't seem to care. The gay community in San Francisco is divided on the nature of the disease but also what should be done about it. Finally, the film deals with the rivalry between Dr. Robert Gallo, the American virologist who previously discovered the first retrovirus and his French counterpart at the Pasteur Institute, Dr. Luc Montagnier, that led to disputed claims about who was first to identify the AIDS virus. Written by
The real Bill Kraus was in his late 30s when this movie took place. Ian McKellen, who plays Kraus in this movie, was 54 at the time of filming. See more »
One scene opens in New York City, in January 1985. The shot is a fly-by of the Statue of Liberty. But in 1985, the Statue was surrounded by scaffolding. See more »
Dr. Don Francis:
How many dead hemophiliacs do you need? How many people have to die to make it cost efficient for you people to do something about it? A hundred? A thousand? Give us a number so we won't annoy you again until the amount of money you begin spending on LAWSUITS makes it more PROFITABLE for you to save people, than to kill them!
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I read this book in high school in the late 80's just as it was released. The book was excellent and gave a great educational lesson on HIV and AIDS. The movie was just as good. I was really touched at the end when "The last song" by Elton John was playing. The movie gave a great time-line of the virus.
It is so terrifying to think AIDS has actually been around since probably 1959 when a blood sample from a man from the Congo had died of a mysterious illness, and tests run on the blood sample today showed he did indeed have AIDS. The movie was very touching, this whole topic leaves a lump in my throat. I was 13 when AIDS had started making the news and in 1985 or 1986 my dad had a blood transfusion. We spend months worrying if he had contracted HIV. Thank god he got clean blood and he dodged a bullet, unlike the 25,000 people in the 70 and 80's who received tainted blood.
I got teary eyed when an HIV+ guy in the movie says "This is not a political issue. This is a health issue. This is not a gay issue. This is a human issue. And I do not intend to be defeated by it. I came here today in the hope that my epitaph would not read that I died of red tape."
The predictions were accurate. The scientists predicted there would be 40 million people worldwide infected with HIV by the turn of the century and that number has proved to be pretty much dead on, literally.
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