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
AND THE BAND PLAYED ON (MADE FOR CABLE TV/HBO-1993) ***1/2 Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Masur, Saul Rubinek, Richard Gere, Ian McKellen, Anjelica Huston, Swoosie Kurtz, Steve Martin, Phil Collins. Engrossing adaptation of Randy Shilts' landmark prize-winning document on the onset of AIDS and the fevered manhunt to find the cause and cure of the HIV virus. Compelling storytelling and a remarkable performance by Modine as the head for the Centers for Disease Control facing impossible odds and heartbreaking frustrations. Hallmark for cameo appearances and political correctness it may be but stirring and revelatory nonetheless. Dare not to be moved during Elton John's "The Last Song" as images and names of the disease's victims roll during the closing credits. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode for HBO.
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