This is a movie about the pioneers in heart surgery : Dr. Alfred Blalock and his surgical technician Vivien Thomas. The story covers how the first cardiac surgery came to be performed on humans. But more than that it is the story of Vivien Thomas who contributed almost as much or more than Dr. Blalock and was yet unacknowledged till long simply because he was a black man. It is a story about race, achievements but it is also about personal ambitions, about expanding the frontiers of science. It is a very moving and touching story and I could not hold back tears at one point.
Dr. Blalock who was a wonderful teacher and companion to Vivien inside the lab became aloof and as cut off from him as he never existed. It shows how success makes and brings out the worst in man many times.
Racial discrimination was an abominable thing and derogatory. It was derogatory not to those who were discriminated against but for those who practiced it. It shows how cheap and insensitive and weak you are that you have to feel superior by showing the other person down to oneself. And equally heinous is caste discrimination that we practice here in our country. It is almost the same and it is a shame that it is being practiced even till today. It should be made a criminal offense.
Being born in the high caste, I cannot fully empathize with what they have to go through but whenever I imagine it I shudder. I have felt it though, sometimes, being a woman. It is terrible and makes my blood boil. I hope that with the new and coming generations it will fade away forever.
Blacks in America have come a long way. Today, Condoleezza Rice is the Secretary of State and Will Smith is the highest paid actor and there is Oprah Wimfrey and now there is Barack Obama. It sure has been a very very long and difficult ride for them and they should be proud of it.
What hits home is that despite all disappointments and discriminations, Vivien Thomas loved his work and continued to be devoted to it. That is what a true scientist is.
It was a great movie to watch.