2020, Movies

76 Days (2020, Weixi Chen, Hao Wu, Anonymous)

This is a harrowing but ultimately kind of triumphant fly-on-the-wall style documentary about COVID-19 patients and the frontline workers looking after them in China. If you are lucky enough to have not gotten sick but feel like this has been really hard, I strongly suggest you watch this movie. (And if you think this whole thing is an overreaction, I really strongly suggest you watch this movie but you won’t will you?)

I live in Canada because I was born here. But I also live here because I have learned piecemeal that it is a pretty great place to live. Occasionally, I watch a movie that really reinforces that decision. 76 Days is one of those movies.

Dealing with a pandemic is hard enough as it is in rich countries with small populations. But in China, where there are so many people, it is something entirely different. Add to it an authoritarian government, and you get something that is, at times, a little bit like a nightmare. (And not far off some of the Worst Case Scenarios some public health experts were worrying about here. Fortunately that didn’t happen.)

The films is cinema verite and I know that puts people off. But it is full of dialogue and never boring. Because it is a collection of footage over 2 and a half months, and because it’s from multiple hospitals, they’ve edited in only action. That gives a false picture, sure, but it makes for a far more engaging film than a Frederick Wiseman movie. (Unless Frederick Wiseman is your thing, of course.)

Honestly, I kind of think that this should be shown on TV here in North America, not that it would do any good. Everyone would still believe but they want to believe. But maybe, just maybe, a couple people would change their minds about ignoring safety recommendations.


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