Sunday, February 05, 2006

My Beef with the Bottom Line

I recently rented The Constant Gardener. My first reaction to the movie was that it was not what I was suspecting. I did not read the box label and had not seen any previews. All I knew was that this guys wife dies and he sort of becomes a detective to find our why. Way off! Well, sort of. She does dies and he does find out why but, what makes the movie is the context and portrayal of the African struggle to receive sufficient health care juxtaposed to the people who make and sell the drugs for the sake of profit increase. The movie raises a lot of ethical questions. Two scenes stand out in particular.

In one scene, Justin Quayle, played by Ralph Fiennes, finds himself in this remote village in the Sudan, finally starting to put together some big pieces of his wife’s death. The neighboring tribes, however, has arrived to raid the village and it becomes a mad dash for the aid workers to get to the plane before it takes off. The rest of Sudanese people must get to the next village for safety or hide until the raid ends. In the process murder and kidnapping, Quayle ends up with a little girl in the plane where he faces the pilot’s request to leave the girl behind because the plane is for aid workers only. They argue about whether or not helping this one girl right now is the right thing to do or whether recognizing the one girl in millions won’t make a difference. The girl ends up running off the plane. As the plane takes off Quayle asks what will become of her. The aid worker from the village answers she might make it to safety in the next village. This scene, as well others in the movie, portray those who are trapped in a game of which they have no control.

The second scene is a scene between Quayle and Sandy Woodrow, played by Danny Huston. In this scene, Quayle wants to know why they are testing a drug of people that has not been proving sufficient. It ends up killing thousands of which they bodies are hidden and lied about. Huston remarks that it would take three years and millions of dollars lost to make the drug sufficient.

There is no happy ending in this movie. In fact, Quayle ends up returning to the location where the hired militia “took out” his wife’s vehicle. By this time those in power know that he could threaten their business. He waits for the hired militia to arrive and they do what they have been hired to do. The movie provides no answers. It portrays suffering that looks to be endless.

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