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  • And The Band Played On is an extremely powerful movie. This movie should be required viewing in any high school. The fact that it took so incredibly long for the then higher powers to admit to the existence of AIDS is stunning and sad. The performances throughout the movie were moving and effective. I thought that Sir Ian McKellan and Richard Gere represented respectfully the signs of strength and fear.

    I was also disheartened to learn that throughout this tragedy, there were individuals who might have been more concerned with helping and protecting their own reputation and agenda as well as accepting the credit for their work in breaking down point by point the disease known as AIDS. Alan Alda as Dr. Gallo was fascinating. In fact all of the performances from Matthew Modine and Richard Gere to Steve Martin and BD Wong were great. The most important thing here though is the history of this disease and the hope that we can learn from it.
  • I read this book in high school in the late 80's just as it was released. The book was excellent and gave a great educational lesson on HIV and AIDS. The movie was just as good. I was really touched at the end when "The last song" by Elton John was playing. The movie gave a great time-line of the virus.

    It is so terrifying to think AIDS has actually been around since probably 1959 when a blood sample from a man from the Congo had died of a mysterious illness, and tests run on the blood sample today showed he did indeed have AIDS. The movie was very touching, this whole topic leaves a lump in my throat. I was 13 when AIDS had started making the news and in 1985 or 1986 my dad had a blood transfusion. We spend months worrying if he had contracted HIV. Thank god he got clean blood and he dodged a bullet, unlike the 25,000 people in the 70 and 80's who received tainted blood.

    I got teary eyed when an HIV+ guy in the movie says "This is not a political issue. This is a health issue. This is not a gay issue. This is a human issue. And I do not intend to be defeated by it. I came here today in the hope that my epitaph would not read that I died of red tape."

    The predictions were accurate. The scientists predicted there would be 40 million people worldwide infected with HIV by the turn of the century and that number has proved to be pretty much dead on, literally.
  • I decided to watch this movie again tonight for the first time in several years. I lived in San Francisco when the epidemic began and had a first hand view of the fear, paranoia, and grief.

    The movie brings back memories of worrying about my gay child and many of my friends. We attended more than a few memorial services. My son, praise be, is fine.

    The best thing about watching it so many years later is to realize how far we've come since then. AIDS is no longer the death sentence it once was. The book and the film did a great deal to raise public awareness. HBO was courageous, the actors were all first class and I believe it was realistic in its portrayal of the heroes, the villains, and the public ignorance and apathy of the time.
  • HBO was beginning to choose projects other networks were afraid to touch. And the Band Played On is one of their all time top ten. The actors who participated in this film were only paid scale, and not a lot of money was used, but the message is the strongest. I viewed this on its premiere and couldn't sleep afterward. I view it more these days since I've had many friends die of "red tape" of AIDS.

    According to this film based in Randy's book, what bothers me the most was the opportunities that existed by several people to catch this disease at various stages and it just wasn't done. Sure the government played its part, but so did commerce, so did vanity and so did the need for humans to be sexual beings.

    Since the film I've read about the deaths of many as well as experienced deaths myself. One thing that stands out is "Patient Zero". The family of this gentleman has fought long and hard for that stigma to be erased. As the character says in the film: "If I got it, then someone gave it to me". I do understand terms that mark things as "the beginning" of the identified problem but with this film you will know there was a beginning BEFORE THAT beginning. Where it lies is still a mystery.

    On the other hand if America could have shared information with other countries and paid closer attention we could have fought this is a world problem before it got to the point of where it did. But America was too busy allocating more money to military defense than to the medical defense.

    America had discoverable AIDS cases as far back as the 1950's, but it didn't reach total epidemic status until the late 1970's early 1980's. This film brings that information out. It also brings out the information that this disease, although concentrated in the gay community, had no specific target, anyone could/would get it. The people in my life were not all homosexual who contracted the disease but a few were just receivers of blood transfusions. At the time they received the blood, the test was not developed for screening. Just like the film points out, they too (family, friends, associates) suffered.

    There is so much to grab in this film, one or two viewings isn't enough. One or two pointed fingers is not the answer. It is equally as sad that almost 10 years later, I am writing this review and the band is still playing. It was my prayer that this would not be so.
  • Unbelievable, wrenching film. This movie is told so thoughtfully and well; the sequences are laid out thoughtfully, and this is one of those rare movies literally told from the heart. The cast is just remarkable. What a huge story to tell; this could easily have become garbled due to the overwhelming subject matter. However, it is sequenced well, and acted so well, that you sit there in astonishment that this could happen in a world full of otherwise brilliant people.

    I don't know what it will take to remove political considerations from life-and-death struggles...How about we work at saving lives, and worry about who gets credit later? If someone becomes injured due to gang warfare, we don't deny them care or drag our feet because we don't agree with the gangster "lifestyle".

    Absorbing, heartbreaking and touching. A fantastic and, obviously, loving job by the entire cast.
  • I've read far too many reviews of this movie that just don't seem to get it, even if they did enjoy the film. The purpose of the movie was precisely to show how the AIDS epidemics reached the stages that it did before anything was done, and how the Doctors, researchers and even the federal government and the CDC contributed as much to the progression of the disease as they did to discovering it. To state that this presentation, while not quite showing as much regarding the suffering of the early AIDS patients in some way makes "less of an impact" than it may have otherwise, is to basically state that you have no concept of what the purpose of the movie was! Anyone who actually WAS around when the AIDS crisis began can remember getting blood tests for Hepatitis, then something called HTLV III, then HIV, all with no explanation or understanding as to why. And that was only if you were giving blood! They misconceptions and fears passed on from scientists themselves made it far more difficult to actually understand what it was and how to be safe. This movie explained far better than any other resource exactly what was going on during a time when those of us who WERE alive were getting no answers at all.

    So, if you're going to comment on a movie, make sure you have some idea of what the purpose of the film is before questioning the point of view of the film. This is quite possibly one of the most important films of the past twenty years BECAUSE of its point of view.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There has been much criticism about „And the Band played on": that there were too many characters, many of them drawn rather shallow (if not stereotypical), that it wasn't focused enough, convoluted. There is some truth in that, but mind you, this is a TV-movie after all with all its limitations and considering that, it's doing a pretty good job.

    I had watched this movie because virology is a hobby of mine and there are very few films that deal with the subject of disease (some going down the road of the dreadful "Outbreak"; others being plain boring). On terms of following the rise of an epidemic, "And the Band Played on" works perfectly. At the same time, it catches the atmosphere of the 1980s, the paranoia, the general fear and confusion that marked the first appearance of AIDS.

    There have been arguments whether the movie is too "pro"- or "anti-homosexuals" but I tend to think that it handles the story pretty neutral and hence can be enjoyed by people who themselves are neutral on the issue. True, it doesn't show the gay community, especially the one in San Francisco, in a particularly favorable light (rampant promiscuity, spokespeople in (self)-denial, etc), but then again, there is no denying that without hot spots like SF and the selfish, shallow mentality of the people living there, the epidemic might have taken a different course. The film isn't much kinder on other factors that have facilitated the spread of AIDS in this period, namely conservative politicians of the Regan-era, greedy pharmaceutical companies and self-righteous scientists (especially Dr. Vincent Gallo is painted as a virtual psychopath; doubtful whether the Doctor could very flattered by his portrayal), but then again, why should a film be kind to people and organizations that, in time, would be responsible for millions of death? Another factor that makes this a good film is the director Roger Spottiswoode; many less experienced film-makers would have chosen to press the tear-duct of the viewer in order to get a response, but Spottiswoode doesn't take the cheap option. He's painting a grim picture of a grim situation but he never makes it look melodramatic or, with a few exceptions, sentimental. There's often a fine chemistry among the cast, especially the research team around Don Francis (Matthew Modine) – on other times, the chemistry seems forced, not quiet natural (for example, we are never explained why there should be such a deep bond between Francis and Bill Kraus (Ian McKellen)).

    In essence, though many criticisms are true – especially that too many story lines are cramped into a mere two hours (the rather lengthy book by Randy Shilts would probably have been better served by a mini-series) and that the film is a virtual star-sighting tour (some of the cameos lasting merely a few seconds) – it doesn't make it a bad movie.

    I'd give it 7 from 10 points (deducting one point for the schmaltzy Elton John in the final scene, which seems to combine all the shallow cheesiness that the rest of the movie spared us).
  • A real-life story about the discovery and destructive nature of AIDS, And the Band Played On is a gripping drama that not only takes you to the front line and behind the scenes of the HIV virus. To the bath houses in San Francisco to the research labs at the Center for Disease Control, there is no area that is not shown in this film. An all-star cast also creates the ambiance to this film. Powerful actors giving the performances of a lifetime. Richard Gere, Angelica Houston, Ian McKellan, Steve Martin, Alan Alda, Phil Collins, and even Matthew Modine are just a few of the actors who deserved Academy Awards for their work. While most of their parts were small, they were not unforgettable segments. Each cameo actor had a crucial role in leading us to the next segment and life of the HIV virus.

    We are first introduced to Modine when he is trying to help a tribe with the destructible Ebola virus. Then, just as quickly, we are in mainstream San Francisco. The booming gay community and the political figureheads that were pushing for rights. It is the beginning of 1980, the Democrats are pushing for a more liberal stance, while Regan is being sworn into the White House for his first term. The world is happy, yet timid. The gay community is growing, and discovering that a dark fear is lurking behind them. While the United States is beating a dead horse about closing bath houses and stopping the gay community, the French are looking at it outside of a sexual disease. Possibly a blood disease. While they research their ideas, America begins to see the full effect of AIDS. These scientists are predicting that in the next several years the fatality rate will be 100% if you contract AIDS. Ronald Regan has just had his second term and has still not mentioned AIDS in public. While the French work day and night to stop their public from dying, we begin shunning the gay community. Creating a phobia due to lack of education. We even see a well respected doctor steal the discovery from the French just so that he can credit the monetary value of this disease. While the ending to this film is very sappy, it still was powerful enough to not only be enjoyable, but also educational. A film that if you have not seen yet, you should...and if you have seen it, see it again.

    This powerful two and a half hour epic was the most entertaining informative film I have seen in ages. I rented it not knowing anything about it. I first picked it up for the actors to see what they could do in such small roles. Little did I know I was about to see everyone in the performances of their lifetime. Richard Gere proved once and again why he is an actor. It befuddles me why Modine has stopped working, because after seeing him in this film I would have liked to see him move further in the Hollywood community.

    It is not everyday that you find a gem as this film. If I was a superintendent of schools and I just saw this film, I would push with every ounce of strength to get this film into my schools. I learned more about AIDS than I ever had in my education career. It not only brought out a text book style of education, but it also brought a very humanistic approach to the disease. It also brought out a very dark political side that perhaps the general public is not as familiar with. Not only that, but it also brought out the dark side of human nature. In times of plagues, we rely to heavily on science to be our savior. While it will be the backbone to our cause, we do need to have a feeling for those that already have the disease. We, as a nation, need to look past social standings, sexual preference, and color of our skin to realize that we are all humans. If this is a "human" disease, then we need to research every venue, not just the most obvious ones. If this film doesn't scare you, I don't think any horror film will.

    Like all great films, it did have some horrible sides to it. McKellan's story was too cliché. The story of the homosexual politician who looses his lover because he is more involved with politics than his social life, who eventually reunite when it is discovered that McKellan has AIDS. Modine's flashbacks were unnecessary. I felt that we did not need to be reminded why he believed in human nature, and I don't think that we needed to be reminded by seeing a scene where he throws bodies into a fire. Something more substantial would have been nice. Finally, the ending was too much for me. I don't think it needed to have an Elton John (prominent homosexual figure in entertainment) singing one of his songs with flashing pictures of famous people, straight and gay, that we have lost to AIDS. Perhaps a more poignant picture would have been less famous people (every day Joes) who have died from the disease.

    Overall, the good well out weigh the bad points that I just mentioned. I guarantee that you will be surprised, educated, and emotionally enthralled by this film.

    Grade: **** out of *****
  • American doctors from the under-funded Center for Disease Control scramble to figure out the origin of--and the causes behind--the alarming rate of homosexual male deaths in the early 1980s; as a fatal strain of pneumonia and hepatitis B cases begin appearing, as Reagan-era Washington apparently vetoes the mysterious disease as non-newsworthy, and as the gay community (shown as not one radically adept at helping their own cause) label the early cases as products of the Gay Cancer, the CDC battles with the Blood Industry in coming up with an inexpensive way of filtering out contaminated blood. Adaptation of Randy Shilts' frightening, groundbreaking book was seemingly an impossible undertaking, yet HBO Films and co-producer Aaron Spelling manage to lay all Shilts' information out adroitly and adeptly, with some of the character interaction awkwardly interjected but with most of the principal players doing very well with technical roles. Alan Alda positively revels in the opportunity to play sniveling medical scientist Dr. Robert Gallo, who felt usurped when French scientists initially gained prestige for isolating the virus; as Dr. Mary Guinan, Glenne Headly does some of the best work of her career (while interviewing a sexually promiscuous airline steward, one of the earliest men to fall prey to the disease, Headly is remarkably natural and charming); and Saul Rubinek as Dr. Curran, who initiates the investigation and helps sort out all the jargon, is in masterful form. Some of the high-profile cameos aren't shaped for much satisfaction--they stick out as artifices--such as Richard Gere's bit as a stricken choreographer (it is commendable that Gere is here, yet his movie star aura looms larger than his part). The film isn't compact--it isn't a quick-fix wallow or a time-filler--it is a serious, frustrating, angry movie with no easy answers. And that's as it should be.
  • And the band played is really the history of how the Aids Virus managed to spread throughout the world like few illnesses have. The medical history, governmental ignorance and emotion surrounding this sickness all conspired against any rational approach to an early cure or intervention.

    Matthew Modine carries off his role with fire and brimstone, he is the consummate voice of positive cooperation and healing, and Alan Alda plays his evil counterpart. Alda plays the egotistical, self-serving Dr. Robert Gallo, who made questionable progress fighting the disease. There are those who believe that his research was all stolen from the French doctors who were also working tirelessly to defeat this sickness. The movie explores that controversy, in the light of how much it may have slowed down the search for a cure.

    The cast of this movie is a virtual who's-who of cause fighting Hollywood. Richard Gere plays a particularly touching role as a choreographer who knows he is at risk, and sort of sneaks around helping financially and having himself evaluated. He dies from the disease, but you get a real sense of his tragedy and it is easy to love this character.

    Lilly Tomlin, B.D. Wong, Glenne Headley and Steve Martin all play smaller roles and it always seems interesting to me that certain actors and actresses seem to appear together time and again. B.D. has his best moments as the confused and weary boy friend of the tireless Bill Krauss, who was a continuous crusader against the inhuman attitude towards homosexuals. Glenne is a fierce researcher who actually seems to track down the zero case in the Americas, a French Canadian flight attendant named Dugas.

    The frustrations of the medical researchers at the CDC in Atlanta become more and more extreme as the Reagan administration chokes down on their research budget. As there was a strange stigma attached to AIDS as a Gay disease, the ultra-conservative Reagan administration wouldn't widely support the necessary research. Also, there were incredible problems with the Red Cross and their blood banks being infected with tainted blood.

    This movie is moving, touching, historically accurate and full of inspirational acting and dialog. Don't miss the opportunity as it comes on the various HBO channels periodically.
  • jmcadams322 November 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    See this film. If necessary, discard your personal religious/philosophical/political prejudices and see it for what it is: an incredibly heartwrenching account of a modern epidemic. Strong performances all-around, Modine, Gere, McKellan, et al. This movie makes me weep every single time I see it. Not tear up, WEEP. Some have stated that the political flavor is a bit too leftist for their tastes, or that the movie makes Don Francis out to be a hero, and villanizes the government. I find this amusing since the only mention of the government is that Reagan didn't say the word AIDS for years, which is a complete truism. And Don Francis, though he strives to help as much as possible, certainly is not the classic "hero" as he does not save the day (an impossibility since this particular day has yet to be saved). He merely works, like many others, as hard as he can while fighting a losing battle.
  • AND THE BAND PLAYED ON (MADE FOR CABLE TV/HBO-1993) ***1/2 Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Masur, Saul Rubinek, Richard Gere, Ian McKellen, Anjelica Huston, Swoosie Kurtz, Steve Martin, Phil Collins. Engrossing adaptation of Randy Shilts' landmark prize-winning document on the onset of AIDS and the fevered manhunt to find the cause and cure of the HIV virus. Compelling storytelling and a remarkable performance by Modine as the head for the Centers for Disease Control facing impossible odds and heartbreaking frustrations. Hallmark for cameo appearances and political correctness it may be but stirring and revelatory nonetheless. Dare not to be moved during Elton John's "The Last Song" as images and names of the disease's victims roll during the closing credits. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode for HBO.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    And the Band Played On is a television film docudrama that includes an all-star cast that includes Lily Tomlin as San Francisco health official Selma Dritz, Matthew Modine as Centers for Disease Control researcher Don Francis, Alan Alda as NIH official Robert Gallo, Ian McKellan as gay activist Bill Kraus together with Glenne Headley, Steve Martin and Anjelica Huston in cameo roles.It was directed by Roger Spottiswoode. The teleplay by Arnold Schulman is based on the best-selling non-fiction book And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts.

    In 1981, researchers begin discerning a mysterious new disease that apparently affects only homosexual males. Working independently, and with marked hostility toward one another, an American and a French research team manage to identify and name the dreaded HIV virus. The long-range effects of AIDS is experienced through the first- and secondhand experiences of several unfortunate individuals.

    Don Francis becomes aware of a growing number of deaths from unexplained sources among gay men in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco, and is prompted to begin an in-depth investigation of the possible causes. Working with no money, limited space, and outdated equipment, he comes in contact with politicians and numerous members of the medical community, many of whom resent his involvement because of their personal agendas, and gay leaders. While Francis pursues his theory that AIDS is caused by a sexually transmitted virus on the model of feline leukemia, he finds his efforts are stonewalled by, among others, the CDC, which is loath to prove the disease is transmitted through blood, and competing French and American scientists, particularly Dr. Robert Gallo, who squabble about who should receive credit for discovering the virus. Meanwhile, the death toll climbs rapidly.

    This was a pretty powerful TV film about the AIDS epidemic and government inaction.It also shows the ignorance of people back then and how politics and discrimination against homosexuals stonewalled the immediate discovery of a cure that could have alleviate the newly discovered disease.It is also worth to commend the all-star cast on their commitment in re-creating the events the surrounds the early days of the discovery of AIDS.

    This was definitely one of the best TV movies ever made!!!!
  • Much has been made about the "good guys" and "bad guys" portrayed in "And The Band Played On". And with good reason. I can't help wonder what personal agendas are being followed when a prominent 'real-life' scientist like Dr. Robert Gallo (Alan Alda) is portrayed in such a shallow way. But simultaneously, the filmmakers coyly hide the fact from us that Richard Gere's choreographer is "A Chorus Line" creator Michael Bennett. They withhold that information like "The Simpsons" hide which state Springfield is in. With a wink of an eye.

    While these imperfections in the film can be distracting, they are also quite trivial. What many overlook is that "And The Band Plays On" is first...and foremost...a story of DENIAL.

    Throughout the first act, there is a reluctance to accept the seriousness of "GRID" ("Gay Related Immune Deficiency"). Once there is no escaping the growing horror, the film accurately describes how all parties (The C-D-C, Bill Krause, gay groups, Jerry Falwell, blood banks, Gallo, The Reagan Administration, etc.) react to preserve their own best interests. And while those special interests clash on how to proceed next, thousands of helpless people keep dying. (There's your tie-in to the Titanic-inspired title).

    In the spirit of Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper, Matthew Modine is best-suited to playing an 'everyman'. Modine's 'everyman' in this film (Dr. Don Francis)understands the growing, deadly consequences of H-I-V, but has his own ghosts to exorcise (an Ebola plague victim who grabs his wrist, covering it in blood). While Modine's character is the voice of reason, he is not immune from reacting irrationally to this plague. It is only at the end of the film, as he comforts the dying Bill Krause, that Francis begins to overcome his own fears.

    The message of this film is simple: We must be "pro-active" in addressing our problems. For if we wait for a "reactive" response, the resulting panic and confusion will only make things worse. In that respect,"And The Band Plays On" is one of the most important films to be made during the 1990s. For even with it's minor distractions, inaccuracies and agendas -- it truly is "MUST SEE T-V".
  • This HBO TV movie is far better than the average TV film. It tells the frightening story of the evolution of AIDS which might have been slowed or even prevented if politicians had not been afraid to talk about it.

    The strong cast does an excellent job, especially Modine and McKellan. I found the story, based on Randy Shilts' book, very touching. The title metaphor is apt -- the band played on as the Titanic sank.
  • mattkratz16 September 2001
    This impressive movie, about the onset of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980's, was good. I found everything about it to be first-rate, from the performances and portrayals to the very writing. An impressive cast (Matthew Modine, Richard Gere, Richard Masur, Steve Martin, etc.) contributes to a very powerful film.

    *** out of ****
  • And the Band Played On (1993)

    A vivid, well-acted tracing of the history of AIDS from the point of view of epidemiology. That sounds boring, but just the opposite. The intense pressure on the early researchers is part of the drama. And the injustice of the politics getting in the way is important. Most of all, of course, is the terrible suffering of the victims, which is a small but key part of the story.

    All of this is really well done, no fat to the story, moving along and keeping the progression of events clear. I resisted watching this for a long time thinking it would dry, or that the story is well known and would offer no surprises, but I enjoyed it all.

    The director, Canadian Roger Spottiswoode, has done nothing else on this impressive scale. Even working with the stellar cast (many famous actors with small roles, and a couple, like Alan Alda, more prominent) requires a kind of juggling and intelligence that's great to watch. Is the movie perfect? In a way, yes, given the choice of subject matter.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Document of the tragic beginnings of AIDS from when it was considered "gay cancer" and started to spread throughout the gay community (it was reputed to be especially set off in bathhouses where sexual transmission between numerous partners was the norm) killing at an alarming rate but not recognized by our government or provided proper funding for scientific research, even though it was clearly an epidemic deserving of attention. There's an emphasis on the frustrations of those working at the CDC in Atlanta (Matthew Modine, Saul Rubinek, Glenn Headly) and how a French lab is at odds with a renowned scientist's (Alan Alda; this actor is always good at playing snobbish, condescending assholes with a superiority complex) over who can "name" the AIDS virus as their own discovery (although you wouldn't think they were rivals if Alda's Dr. Gallo's "we are all getting along swell" behavior in front of the media was any indication). The film traces the virus to a flight steward with over 70 + lovers all over the world. He's interviewed by Richard Masur (part of the CDC team trying to uncover the meaning behind the virus and its origins), who successfully builds a history of where the virus starts and how it spread from the main person. …And the Band Played On is a real behind-the-curtain look at those affected by AIDS and the scientists/community so desperately wanting to understand it so its damage (or at least a method to halt its quick effects from killing those with it so soon) can be deterred. Ronald Reagan spent a considerable amount of time, when President of the United States, not even mentioning it or recognizing AIDS in the media. That frustration in Modine just to get funding so he and his team could understand the damned virus is palpable enough, but to see Alda's ego getting involved and increasing the difficulty further must enrage those who lost friends and family to AIDS. And the absence of even an electron microscope and proper lab facilities for the Atlanta CDC team shows the extreme lack of initiative by the government to study and deter AIDS establishes that so much time, important and valuable, lost in the combat against this virus is illustrated really well. A tremendous cast with the likes of Donal Logue, Richard Gere, Bud Cort, Swoosie Kurtz, and Ian McKellen as victims of the AIDS (each contributing to the fight and research against it, or abused by it), as well as, Angelica Huston, Richard Jenkins, and Steve Martin in parts revolving around the epidemic. The sheer magnitude of the ravages of AIDS is shown in "updates" as, on occasion, the director provides us with the numbers of cases reported and the victims of it. Important film that says that human beings, regardless of sexual orientation, age, or color, fell (or fall) prey to AIDS for a number of reasons, not just homosexual sex. Modine, a fine actor, excels in the lead. There's an epic scope to the film as it covers a lot of ground. The politics involved get major focus; not to mention, blood distribution led to transfusion patients getting AIDS, but the enforcement of regulatory checking of the blood for the virus needed to be addressed. This is an impassioned outcry for those undermined by the virus, and the precious lives lost because of it.
  • Well told history of the beginning of the AIDS crisis in America and the world. It showed the slow and inept response of the Republican lead government. The performances are brilliant. Ensemble cast brings a complicated story, to fruition by showing that AIDS is not merely a disease to study underneath a microscope, but a social typhoon that changed society as a hole. I think they should show this movie in high schools. An influential movie that stops and makes you think. I thought that Alan Alda's portrayal of Dr. Robert Gallo was a great departure from his normal "MASH" fare, I found a new respect for Matthew Modine after seeing his portrayal in this movie. Swoozie Kurtz is only on screen for a brief time, yet she pulls you into her characters desperation, sadness, and anger, at being kept in the dark by her own Dr's. Her Dr's never tell she has AIDS. The stigma of AIDS still stands today. I hope to one day live in a world when AIDS has been eradicated.
  • I've seen this movie a few times. Every once in a while I want to watch it by myself, it never gets tiresome, sometimes I show it to a friend, a relative, or a partner. This movie is made in documentary style, so no wonder it was made for TV as well. The all-star cast and the depth of the plot probably deserved a wider range of viewers. It tells us a story, in a simple, familiar way about the outbreak of an unknown disease in the U.S. in the early 80's. This disease seemed to aim at a particular section of the population, the homosexual. No wonder AIDS was soon labeled as `gay cancer', but soon it was found it reached a wider section of the population, and we see the day to day drama of a fully aware doctor trying to convince the average Joe that AIDS was everyone's concern, against prejudice and discrimination. The movie star Matthew Modine and Alan Alda in main roles, and brilliant cameo/guest star appearances by Steve Martin, Richard Gere, Anjelica Houston and Phil Collins, among others, Worth taking a look at. 8/10.
  • I have seen this movie countless times. I was so touched with the story that I became active within my own community by volunteering and fund raising for various HIV/AIDS foundations. This film IS one of if not the best based-on-a-true-story dramas I have ever had the privilege of seeing.
  • This is a movie based upon the late Randy Shilts book AND THE BAND PLAYED ON , a book that I have never read but know has been critically acclaimed and praised for its readability since it is very similar in structure to a detective novel as scientists try to track down and identify a virus that is killing gay men . I also know the book also received some criticism because it was written by a HIV+ homosexual who seemed to have a political axe to grind . If that's the case ( Again I confess to never reading the book ) then all I can say is that this is a very well adapted story

    Certainly the story works best when the scientists are on the case . If the story about the nationalistic rivalries and plain old fashioned egotism ( A Nobel prize to the first person to identify this illness is a certainty here ) of the scientific community had been the main focus this would have been superb drama but ironically because of a need to make the drama more human we're introduced to far too many characters so that the story soon descends into mawkish melodrama and yes I did notice something of an agenda in here

    Take the bath house sequences for example where gay men congregate for casual sex and a character points out to Dr Harold Jaffe ( In reality it's being pointed out to a mainstream audience ) about how a hetrosexual equivalent would be somewhere a man would be able to meet lots of beautiful women for meaningless but great sex . This equivalent doesn't actually exist in reality though and we a mainstream audience are being asked to sympathise with homosexual promiscuity . In many ways it's a form of emotional blackmail , if we can't empathise with this lifestyle that marks us down as " homophobic " when homophobia doesn't come into it - Promiscuity is the problem here . Later the owner of the bath house Eddie Papasano speaks about how he's not going to shut his premises down because he'll lose money . Oh boy you can see where this is heading , greed is good for the pocket and bad for people who choose to have sex with complete strangers . Are we to take it the greed of Eddie Papasano and the people who use his bath house are comparable to the blood bank executives who scared of losing their profits don't screen blood donations for HIV+ Of course not , but this TVM makes out anyone wants to make money in whatever form is a cold hearted villain and anyone committing promiscuity is a hard done by victim . It should be pointed out that Phil Collins is laughable in the role of Papasano

    Phil Collins isn't the only inapprotiate cameo in this television movie , the whole TVM drowns in them , it's even more distracting than THE LONGEST DAY with big name or familiar face actor appearing in the shortest scenes: Alan Alda , Richard Gere , Anjelica Houston , Steve Martin , Ian Mckellan and Saul Rubinek to name but some all make appearances which seems more like a parade of Hollywood liberals and makes you realise that you're watching a TVM . Like the story the familiar faces should have only been confined to the scientists working on the case rather have appear in pointless cameos

    AND THE BAND PLAYED ON ends with a poignant epilogue made even more poignant when one of those featured is Elisabeth Glaser who died on December the 3rd 1994 , the day after this TVM received its British network premier
  • "And the Band Played on" is the greatest AIDS epic ever created. Others will claim this title should go to "Angels in America", but in my opinion AiA (being a gay fantasia on national themes) tackles far more issues to make it an "AIDS movie". "And the Band Played on" is a critical and historical dissection of AIDS, what it is, and how it came to be a pandemic. This film has been criticized both for its being dated and being too dispassionate. Well of course it's dated! It's a dramatized documentary. The movie came out in 1993 and the most important scenes take place in 1982 and 1983. I am part of the younger generation (i.e. under thirty) and we are already too young to remember the events of AIDS' emergence. It's important for us especially to watch this movie to remember the events of our childhood. As for it being dispassionate I adamantly disagree. If you can watch the 1983 decision (by this point in history there have been over 1000 deaths and over 2000 cases) where the national blood banks decided it wasn't worth the expense to test the nation's blood supply for AIDS, you are taking too much of history for granted.
  • Eponine-61 June 1999
    I saw this movie at a movie theater, after reading one favorable review. I didn't expect to be so thrilled, by the characters and the history. Being a physician myself, I remember quite well how despised the AIDS epidemic was at the beginning. That it became what it is today is also the result of society's and physicians' disbelief.

    The movie is great in portraying the scientific research in a way laymen can understand, and at the same time the struggle real people went through. The final heartbreaking real scenes remind us of how REAL they are.

    It's a must-see. Beautifully enacted (Alan Alda is perfect, but so are Lily Tomlin, Mathew Modine, Saul Rubinek), great story-telling. Don't think you'll be bored by a documentary, this is not a "TV-movie", it's an adventure...and a wake-up call!
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