Arnold Schulman’s film interpretation of the written documentary by Randy Shilts is not only striking but dramatic and effective on its audience.  Marked as one of the first films to come out addressing the emergence of the AIDS epidemic in 1988, Schulman’s And the Band Played On pulled on emotional strings of all who viewed it.  The film takes the same path that the non-fiction work takes in going back to when the AIDS epidemic could only be explained as “the gay man’s disease” since there were huge outbreaks of it in San Francisco and other cities that were seen to be homosexual hubs.  The desperate search to identify the unknown fatal disease is illustrated beautifully by Dr. Don Francis, played by Matthew Modine.  Francis battles the never-ending governmental red tape as well as his biggest barrier, Dr. Robert Gallo, played by Alan Alda.  Rather than concerning himself with the increasing number of unexplained deaths, Gallo is consumed with personal gratification and medical recognition.  The collaboration between Schulman and Shilts proves that it is possible to make the daring leap from book to screenplay and not only be successful but also be monumental in the educational process.

Copyright (c) 1999 by Victoria Douglass Hatch, Undergraduate at Lehigh University.

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