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Medicinema: merging medicine and the big screen

15 January 2010

Medicinema is a new book in which Brian Glasser (UCL Medical School) explores what film tells us about medicine and its practitioners.

Film still from 'A Matter of Life And Death' 1946

Brian has been an honorary lecturer in the research department of Primary Care and Population Health at UCL for 20 years and has taught students about doctors and patients in film as part of the intercalated BSc in Medical Humanities.

Brian said: “How to teach well has always fuelled me and there’s something about students looking at film in relation to medicine that helps them to think about what it means to be a doctor – or a patient; it makes it easy for them to have a safe discussion about some sometimes awkward issues. The book is really a result of the things that cropped up in the courses and the spill over from some of the areas I wasn’t able to cover.”

Medicinema, published by Radcliffe, looks at the links between medicine and cinema – links that have existed since the earliest days of film. It asks why healthcare professionals have featured so prominently and diversely in film history, looking at early classics such as 'The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari’ (1921) as well as contemporary films including ‘The Doctor’ (1991) or ‘Syndromes And A Century’ (2006).

Brian said: “My approach is to start with the films and work back to medicine rather than the other way round; so in the course of the book I also try to introduce the reader to a little of the thinking they might come across if they were doing film studies. It’s not meant to be comprehensive: what I want to do is encourage further reading and research – and viewing!”


UCL context

UCL Medical School has a distinguished history; it emerged from the amalgamation of Middlesex Hospital, University College Hospital and the Royal Free Hospital. These organisations combine a rich past in the history of science and medicine with advanced clinical practice. Among past and present staff are Nobel Prize winners (Huxley, Hill and Katz) and numerous Fellows of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

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