Jennifer D. (jennicat) from ST AUGUSTINE, FL Reviewed on 1/3/2015...
I loved this movie.
Bridgett A. (Anya) from BALTIMORE, MD Reviewed on 3/30/2008...
Very interesting and informative film. If you want to know about the political aspects of AIDS when it was being discovered and named, you should see this one. This is not all about the politics though. There is a very real and heartbreaking aspect to the film. Kinda wish I hadn't posted and mailed it.
Where were you twenty years ago?
Charles S. Houser | Binghamton, NY | 07/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I never made it all the way through Randy Shilts's book so I won't presume to know whether this film did right by Mr. Shilts. Simply put, this is great drama. The patronizing statements about made-for-tv movies don't apply here. The drama, sadly, comes from the real events that are depicted--the collective denial about the reality of AIDS as that disease first began appearing in the gay and Haitian communities, the government's (read "Ronald Reagan's") persistent indifference, the professional jealousy within the medical communities vying to be the first to identify the agent (the virus) that causes AIDS, and how human beings resist having their preconceived notions about life challenged (as when a group of gay activists insists on keeping gay bath houses open even as it became apparent that AIDS was spread through sexual contact). This movie really took me back twenty years to when I first read a short article buried somewhere in the middle of the New York Times about a gay-related cancer little realizing how much my life would change from that point onward.The performances across the board are great. I was especially impressed by Matthew Modine (I've liked him since "Birdy" and I like to see him get meaty roles as here), Alan Alda (not the likable mensch from MASH), Ian McClellan, B.D. Wong, and Phil Collins (who knew?).Aside from some cast biographies this DVD has no other "extras". Nor does it need any."
Pulling on your emotions
ace_miracle | Maitland, FL United States | 06/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This made-for-HBO movie definitely transcends the "disease of the week" genre that it's part of. Based on the book by Randy Shilts, it chronicles the struggle of science vs. politics vs. morality in the early days of the AIDS crisis. Our point of view character is Dr. Don Francis (Matthew Modine), a passionate young scientist with the Centers for Disease Control. He and his colleagues, both at the CDC and France's Pasteur Institute, seem to be the only ones who remember that there are real people dying of this mysterious disease. Dr. Robert Gallo (Alan Alda)is one of the few human "villians" of the piece, more interested in writing himself into the history of the disease than in helping anyone. Two other notable performances are those of Lily Tomlin as the tough, no-nonsense Dr. Selma Dritz) and Ian McKellan as Congressional aide Bill Krause, who as part of San Francisco's gay community, is in the epicenter of the crisis.
Watching this movie, I got very angry. The blood banks, for example, were more worried about money than lives. One of the best scenes in the movie is where Dr. Francis stands up at a meeting and screams at reps from the blood industry, "How many dead hemophiliacs do you need?" before they do something about it. (That was a reenactment of a real outburst, not a fictional event.) An end title tells us that "By the time President Reagan made his first speech on AIDS, 25,000 people had died." Between events like these and Gallo's blatant scientific misconduct, it's hard to avoid being incensed.The acting is excellent, especially Modine and Alda, who even look a little like the men they're playing. Modine brings an incredible amount of passion and frustration to Dr. Francis. I especially like McKellan's character, an older gay man who is not a stereotype. Several familiar character actors show up as supporting players, and some very famous faces (Steve Martin, Richard Gere, Phil Collins, Swoosie Kurtz, and Anjelica Huston) make cameo appearances.If you're looking for something light and fluffy, this is not the movie for you. If you want something that will make you think, with some fine acting and a realistic script, this is for you. (Watch this, then go read Shilts' book.)"
Battles in the Larger War
James Hiller | Beaverton, OR | 08/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1980, thousands of Americans were under siege by an unknown virus, destined to attack whomever it wished in a vicious, unbelievable way. The response from the government was to ignore it, the response from the primary community it attacked was denial, and the response from the doctors was puzzlement and wonder. This mix led to the deaths of thousands, and eventually millions of people, who were unwittingly victims in this plague that still sweeps the world. "And the Band Played On" marks the early struggles in this monumental epic, and the politics that all too effectively wiped out these victims.
Matthew Modine plays Dr. Don Francis, a virologist who's passion is science and is one of the foremost researchers for AIDS. Intrigued early on with this disease, and unable to answer some of the questions, Francis starts his campaign to discover the source, along with a talented and barely funded crew at the Centers for Disease Control. Because the population it attacked was gay, the Reagan adminstration turned a blind eye to the disease, not wanting to offend it's conservative religious core. And the Band Played On, and more and more people began to die.
Then toss into this mix a gay community recently empowered, afraid of the disease and yet afraid this was another attempt to subvert them. Led by Ian McKellan as Bill Kraus, who struggled against his own community to get them to stop spreading the disease. Yet they turned a blind eye, left the bathhouse open (which were a breeding ground for AIDS), And The Band Played On, and more and more people died.
And then toss into this mix a doctor bent on restoring his shattered reputation and his shattered ego by arguing with the French about discovering this retrovirus. Dr. Gallo, brilliantly played by Alan Alda, put his own needs above those affected from this disease, looking for fame and glory, And the Band Played On.
Taking Randy Shilts' groundbreaking and revolutionary book into a movie format was a challenging and daunting task. The book is thick with characters and politics, and the movie successfully touches on all major areas in the book. However, to get the most complete story, check out the originial source material. The book is still a compelling read so many years later, and if this book doesn't get you outraged, nothing will.
The film ends with an incredible touching tribute to those we lost from AIDS, from the littlest babies to the greatest celebrities, over the haunting song of Elton John's "The Last Song". The end result was our loss of Ryan White ... Rock Hudson ... Bill Kraus ... Amanda Blake ... unspoken millions ... And the Band Plays On ..."
If You Know Someone
Dennis | Edmonton, Alberta Canada | 11/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you have younger friends who were not there while millions died buy this DVD and let them see it. I worked for some time with a youth group and we watched this DVD together. I had to pause it dozens of times to explain what was happening. The younger people up to age 30ish simply have no understanding of this horrific epidemic. Believe it or not I think every school in North America should have this DVD as a class project. I work closely with the AIDS community today and find it difficult to see 16 to 28 year olds now testing positive. This movie gives out a lot of information and the list of people in it will get anyone of any age to watch it... and then watch them cry at the end. This DVD is a gift of life for a friend you may love."
One of my favorite movies of all time
Christine | 09/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I must have seen this movie at least three or four times, and it always gets to me. I will not go into the story line here, as that has been done in detail by other reviewers. Instead, I would just like to say that this is one of those great movies which, in my view, has not received as much attention as it should have. It is not only a suspenseful and gripping account of the early AIDS epidemic, it is also a lesson in how science can be at once extraordinary, as well as petty and ferociously competitive. Based in fact, this movie also serves as an important historical document. Seeing this movie will not lift your spirits, and it most certainly doesn't paint a pretty picture of humanity, but it does leave you feeling a little wiser, and more educated about the beginnings of a disease which continues to greatly affect people and societies all over the planet. It tells a story which needs to be told, and it does it well."