Film Review – Philadelphia
I chose to watch the movie, Philadelphia. This has always been one of my favorite movies. I was 14 years old when it came out and homosexuality and HIV/AIDS were taboo subjects. I remember having to sneak and watch it since my mother was completely against the movie. Philadelphia is very compelling story and honestly, I still cry at the end.
I’m pleased that the writers tried to stay as close to the facts as possible. When Denzel Washington’s character, Joe Miller, went to his doctor with questions, he was told that the disease was transmitted through blood, semen and vaginal secretions. I’m also glad that they chose to incorporate a character within the story that contracted HIV/AIDS through a blood transfusion showing that it is not only gays that contract the virus. I remember the earlier years of learning about the virus and the fear and discrimination were about the same as in the movie, even in my small town.
The bosses of Tom Hank’s character, Andrew Beckett, were showing the initial fears people had when they learned someone had HIV or AIDS. They panicked before educating themselves. They believed the early propaganda that the infection could be contracted by casual contact rather than educating themselves, as Joe Miller did, about the methods of contraction. The senior partners appeared to be more concerned with associating Beckett’s illness with past risky behaviors than seeing him as a human. The statement that one made on stand, that he felt sorry for those who contracted HIV/AIDS “through no fault of their own” was, for a lack of a better word, ignorant. HIV and AIDS is a de-habilitating disease that we should not want anyone to go through. People do make risky decisions, as Mr. Beckett testified to his own in the trial, and we should be helping educate people about the illness rather than continually bashing those that already have it.
Joe Miller openly admitted that he was homophobic. He admitted he was scared of contracting AIDS/HIV through casual contact. I was pleased to see by the end of the movie, that he had faced his fear and was even able to touch Andrew Beckett’s face.
One aspect of the movie that I was displeased about was the fact they portrayed Andrew Beckett’s family as all being supportive. This is not always the case. However, I suppose that for the purpose of not having too many deep and dramatic storylines that it was overlooked to focus on the main story of wrongful discrimination.
I like that the movie mentioned, and for the most part explained, the Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This is an important component in the fight against discrimination at work for not only people with HIV and AIDS but other people with disabilities.
The story in this movie, in my opinion, proved what our text book said on page 398, “Fear is being transmitted by casual contact, not the virus.”
Stine, G. J. (2011). AIDS Update 2011. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973. (n.d.). Retrieved December 12, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocational_Rehabilitation_Act_of_1973