Monday, September 28, 2015

Watching THE THIRD MAN as a small child

I actually think I was thirteen going on fourteen when I first saw THE THIRD MAN, as part of Halifax CJCH-TV's nightly series of movies in the early evening.

I had read plenty of media account of the horrors of the Holocaust by then but hadn't really see anything cinematic about it, nothing to hit me really hard emotionally.

But THE THIRD MAN, centred on the morality of mis-used penicillin, did indeed hit me really hard.

No wonder, for it was a film that remains (65 years later) on many critics' lists of the top ten movies of all time.

As a small child, I had always found the events of WWII and the ten years thereafter very exciting and had always regretted never been being there mentally at firsthand (I was born in late 1951).

And in particular, I became an aware young person too late in the antibiotics revolution to be able to imagine the intense impact of this first miracle medicine upon human thought.

But the events in this film set in postwar Vienna changed all that : I could now feel, in my bones, for the first time how it was for people of that period.

How, for moviegoers back then, the ultimate good must be in providing penicillin to dying little ones and so the ultimate evil was not yet Auschwitz but rather those who would deny lifesaving penicillin to dying little ones.

I think the emotional wallop of that old B&W movie set my current penicillin project in motion --- only this time substituting Alexander Fleming, Howard Florey, Newton Richards and Winston Churchill for Harry Lime in the denying penicillin to dying children department ....

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