Hospital (35mm Restoration!)

35mm Restoration courtesy of the Library of Congress

In pre-HIPAA 1970, inside the four walls of the Metropolitan Hospital in New York’s East Harlem, Frederick Wiseman made a film that depended on a degree of access to doctors and patients that is unfathomable today. We see overtaxed doctors handle everything from stoned hippies to neglected children to alcoholics–lots of alcoholics. Wiseman’s attentive gaze never leans on simplification, even as he stares stereotypes in the face. Doctors aren’t villains–they’re flawed and overworked, and sometimes they go the extra mile for their patients while other times they discuss lunch alongside deep suffering. The alcoholics and druggies and various other oft-underprivileged patients that burst through the ER doors aren’t villains either– they are people at the mercy of a limited institution for care. This newly restored 35mm print is an invitation into the bowels of a place where the American movie-going public will likely never be invited again.

Dir. Frederick Wiseman, 1970, 35mm, 84 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!