I grew up in generation AIDS.
It has always been part of my generation, we saw the quilt, we watched Freddie Mercury die, and we saw how Magic Johnson dealt with it. It was always part of my reality, and it’s a scary way to see sex growing up. It wasn’t just a gay thing, for my generation it was just a death sentence. I had heard of this movie while at Sundance last year, and when I got it to review from IFC, I immediately popped it in.
“How To Survive A Plague” is the untold story of the efforts that turned AIDS into a mostly manageable condition and the improbable group of young men and women who, with no scientific training, infiltrated government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry, and helped identify promising new compounds, moving them through trials and into drugstores in record time. These drugs saved their lives and ended the darkest days of the epidemic, while virtually emptying AIDS wards in American hospitals.
Straight up this film was the most heartfelt and inspiring film I’ve seen in a long time.
This film shows how when people are backed into a corner they will fight to survive. This film is not about gay rights; it’s simply about the human right to health care. We get the sense that they were not just fighting for themselves, though that was certainly a big component, but fighting for the millions that needed the medicine.
The gloomiest part is seeing the trial and error over the years, where people who did take the early drugs and just didn’t get healthier. It’s a bittersweet conclusion since by the time the medicine did get to the point where AIDS was at least something people could try and not, you know, kill them, so many had already passed.
For special features we get an amazing commentary that really shines (one of the best I’ve listened to in years). We are also treated to some deleted scenes and a trailer for the feature.
I have not seen a more compelling documentary in a long time.
I am very disappointed that this did not win the academy award this year because it was the best documentary feature of the year without question. Watching this doc now is the only way to do it any justice.
How to Survive a Plague is available on DVD for around $20 – $24.
Overall: No rating just go and see it now.
Review by Bro’ B – Ben