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The English Surgeon

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PBS Premiere: September 8, 2009


What is it like to have power over life and death, and yet to struggle with your own humanity? This is the story of acclaimed British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, who has traveled to Ukraine for 15 years to treat patients who have been left to die; of his friend and medical colleague in Kyiv who carries on the fight despite official hostility and archaic surgical conditions; and of a young patient who hopes that Henry can save his life. Tense, heartbreaking and humorous, The English Surgeon is a remarkable depiction of one doctor's commitment to relieving suffering and of the emotional turmoil he undergoes in bringing hope to a desperate people. A BBC/ITVS International Production.

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TAGS: medicine, neurology, neuroscience, ukraine

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Film Information

The English Surgeon (90 min.)

Premiere Date: September 8, 2009

Streaming Dates: Expired

Photos: Download Here

Trailer: Link | Embed

Filmmaker: Geoffrey Smith Bio | Interview | Statement

Press: Fact Sheet | Press Release | Filmmaker Statement | duPont Awar | Emmy Awar | Christopher Award


Geoffrey Smith
Geoffrey Smith

He is firstly an artist and then a surgeon. He’s willing to look at surgery and surgeons. He’s prepared to be vulnerable ... He’s the very opposite of the arrogant, repressed surgical model.”

— Filmmaker Geoffrey Smith in Time Out London


Film Update

Critical Acclaim

Astonishing. . . . [An] unexpectedly effective and often affecting documentary. . . . These men perform miracles, but they are also agonizingly human.”

— Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

[T]his is one extraordinary documentary, approaching hugely emotive subject matter with nimble delicacy and...steely reserve...A life-affirming, unforgettable portrait of a true humanitarian...”

Time Out London

So why see such a difficult film? For the same reason Smith made it: There is great beauty in watching one heroic soul insist that he can improve upon a cruel and complex world.”

— Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News

…a lovely film, the best documentary for a long time.”

The Guardian

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