The English Surgeon (2007)

Two people passed out during the screening of The English Surgeon (2007) on Wednesday night at the Bloor theatre. This was one of the goriest films at Hot Docs this year.

Henry Marsh is a leading neurosurgeon from London with a great sense of humour. He has a love for the Ukraine and often travels to Kiev to help his Ukrainian colleague, Igor. Henry tries to make a difference and save lives where he can even though his colleagues in London think he’s wasting his time.

Henry Marsh


Many patients in the Ukraine are misdiagnosed and die as a result. Quite often, Henry has to tell a child or a young woman that they will die and there is nothing he can do. He also brings hope to Kiev when he is able to perform risky neurosurgery and save a life.

A surgery like this is performed in the film with incredible visual and audio clarity. A young man with an inoperable brain tumor goes under Henry’s knife to have the tumour removed. The necessary anesthetic isn’t available so Henry performs the surgery while the patient is awake.

To say the least this scene is incredible graphic and difficult to watch. At one point Henry is making jokes about the Bosch cordless drill being used to remove a part of the patient’s skull. Minutes later their are some tense moments when the patient stops responding.

You’ll find this film to be funny, terrifying and heart-warming if you can get through it. One of my favourites from this years festival. ***

Films are rated from 1 to 4 stars.

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Posted in Hot Docs at 12:57 AM