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Entry updated 8 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1978). MGM. Directed by Michael Crichton. Written by Crichton, based on Coma (1977) by Robin Cook. Cast includes Genevieve Bujold, Michael Douglas, Rip Torn and Richard Widmark. 113 minutes. Colour.

Crichton's most commercially successful film, Coma is a present-day thriller with one sf element: the use of hospital patients, deliberately put into irreversible coma by using poisoned anaesthetic, as living repositories of body parts which are profitably sold for use in transplant surgery – an Organlegging scheme which, it has been alleged, had real-life counterparts by the 1980s. Bujold is good as the resourceful young woman doctor – the film was praised at the time by the Women's Movement – who uncovers the plot in this stylish but wholly implausible paranoid melodrama. Crude but effective visual symbolism equates medicine with the meat trade, which cannot have pleased those of Dr Crichton's old colleagues still in practice. [PN]

see also: Cinema.


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