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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Health > Social > Biography > Albert Schweitzer (1957 Documentary)

Albert Schweitzer (1957 Documentary)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C     Film: B-



Sometimes funny, other times very pleasant, the Oscar®-Winning 1957 documentary on humanitarian Albert Schweitzer has been restored and finally issued on DVD by The Roan Group at 80 minutes.  The celebrated humanitarian, philosopher and selfless medical man in Africa caused a movement of conscience among the medical community to help people who cannot help themselves.  Nearly a half-century later, his work can be seen as a success and failure.


In one way, his legacy continues in the great work many have been inspired to do, but as has been the case (especially since the 1980s) of kindness being taken for weakness and an excuse for the rich and powerful to do little to help people, his philosophy has been used like a religion to keep generous people in their place to an agreed misery to clean up the mess Globalism and other factors have been causing today.


As usual, good work and intentions have been looked down upon, but this Jerome Hill/Erica Anderson film also looks at the man in what he enjoys doing, where he goes and the life he leads.  It is a bit antiseptic in portraying him as a quasi-saint, which you could get away with then, but would be seen as slanted propaganda today.  Sure, he was a nice guy and a great enough man to achieve what he achieved, but the fact that the media ignores him today shows the disrespect in general they have for anyone who does anything that helps others.


The 1.33 X 1 image is varied, lacking some detail, but having some good Video Black.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono shows the age of the film, but is about what you can expect from a documentary work its age.  Maybe a little more work is needed to fix this film, but Roan has done as good a job as possible.  Burgess Meredith tells Schweitzer’s story in voice over narration, while his words are read by Frederic March.  Extras include previews for two upcoming Troma DVDs and a brief featurette with writer Thurston Moore and actor Tom Dolan.  This is a good start in reintroducing the man to the public, but it should not stop here.  Maybe a new narrative film on the real man would be a plus, dirt or no dirt, but Albert Schweitzer is ultimately interesting because it reminds us how documentary filmmaking used to be and what was taken seriously.  Too bad some of it was about as substantial as an upbeat newsreel.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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