Only one year following the release of And the Band Played On, Hollywood, still fascinated with the AIDS topic, tackled another drama dealing with the controversial issue. Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Antonio Banderas, tells the story of a top-notch lawyer promoted and ten days later fired with no explanation except for a bogus claim of incompetence. This film, although taking a very different approach to the AIDS topic, is still strikingly similar to HBOís production And the Band Played On. While Band is more of a docudrama, reporting on the politics and bureaucratic red tape behind the AIDS epidemic in its beginning and middle stages, Philadelphia takes a different approach. Hanksí character is gay and has contracted the virus through unprotected sex, but it is a fact that is not harped on in the movie. One character has contracted the virus through a blood transfusion, insisting that she is no different from Hanks simply because she is straight and was still infected with the disease. And the Band Played On focuses greatly on what happened behind the scenes, out of the publicís eye. As viewer we are being told of one manís true account with his first encounter with the disease, not as a gay man at risk but as an investigative reporter. Philadelphia, on the other hand, is a fictitious story of a man fighting for justice. Regardless of the creative story, it still remains to be a valid and credible story that needed to be told. The movie received outstanding attention, some zoning in on the ability of two popular Hollywood actors being able to portray a relationship between two gay male lovers. Philadelphia brought up many poignant issues, homophobia and the fear of contracting the virus through everyday human contact, the discrimination that those infected with the disease had to face in every facet of their lives. The two films, while each has its own unique end product, both still are striving towards the same goal: to bring AIDS into every Americanís home. Both films portray their characters in the midst of a fight, for their lives, for justice and for recognition, and both succeed in their own creative right.
Parting Glances (1986)
This film takes an entirely different approach to the AIDS issue than And the Band Played On. Parting Glances is an out-of-the-mainstream movie, with a more artistic and creative touch. Set in New York City, two gay men live together and one of the lovers, Robert, is being transferred to South Africa. The couple must face the separation but also deal with the fact that one of their close friends is dying from AIDS. Robert is unable to deal with the death and the sight of his friend deteriorating and asks for the transfer so he can escape and he can leave his lover Michael to deal with their friendís illness. Band and Glances have almost nothing in common with the exception of the subject matter. This said, it is still not to be overlooked as a credible, quality dramatic film portraying the difficulties a gay couple must undergo since the introduction of AIDS.
Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989), Intimate Contact (1987), Longtime Companion (1990)
Copyright (c) 1999 by Victoria Douglass Hatch, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.
This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of the U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in
electronic form, provided that the author is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other
terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author.