Views & Reviews Review of the Week

An Englishman abroad

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 20 March 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:671
  1. Khalid Ali, senior lecturer in geriatrics, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
  1. Khalid.ali{at}

A fly on the wall film about an English surgeon has been a surprise hit on the festival circuit—largely because it shows doctors as fallible humans and not just slick professionals, says Khalid Ali

Rarely has a documentary film about doctors and patients been such a hit with audiences. The English Surgeon, which follows Henry Marsh, the neurosurgeon of the title, from St George’s Hospital in London to the Ukraine, enjoyed standing ovations at its screening at last year’s London Film Festival. The film is compelling viewing—not least because the central character is so likeable and engaging, like an older George Clooney. The film follows a three stranded narrative: that involving Marsh, another about Ukrainian neurosurgeon Igor Petrovich, and the story of a patient waiting for brain surgery to remove a large tumour. The action flits between Britain and the Ukraine, which Marsh visits regularly. When Marsh first visited Kiev in the early 1990s he was shocked by the inefficient and bankrupt …

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