Film: 9049

Medicine | 1950 | Sound | B/W


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Life of Albert Calmette. Dramatised account of French medical research into innoculation against tuberculosis 1950's

A ship breaks the waves. A lifeboat carries the name of the ship: "Oslo". We see the back of a man sitting alone on the deck. It is Albert Calmette, he looks in the distance, thoughtful. A flashback starts, Camille Guerin and Calmette, younger, shake hands. Calmette sits at a large table and puts a letter in an envelope. A man reads his letter and drives his car to the Pasteur Institute. Calmette authorizes the first anti-tubercolosis vaccination. A woman reads the first page of Le Figaro. A nurse picks up a crying, newborn child and the doctor who was authorized by Calmette gives him a spoonful of vaccine. The vaccines sit on a small round table in their vials. A baby in a pram is fed a spoonful of vaccine. Back to Calmette on the ship. A shot of a calm sea follows, then two photos of ships on which Calmette travelled when he was younger to study exotic diseases. A shot shows his name on the Annales of the Pasteur Institute. The next shot is a photo of Calmette wearing a soldier's uniform and his wife. Another shot of a calm, flat sea. A photo of his house, then a photo of a fishing village. A photo of a young Calmette at the time Pasteur asked him to open a laboratory in Saigon. A shot of the Oslo breaking the waves. Photos of children in Indochina being vaccined and Calmette with indigenous people. Long shot of Lille, where he is nominated director of the Pasteur institute. Clothes hanging on clothes lines by an apartment block in a working class area of Lille. Roof and chimneys in Lille, at the time ravaged by tuberculosis. A shot of factories in Lille. A child, underdressed, sadly stares at a poster on the wall and sits on a step, alone, chewing his finger. Two shots of the Pasteur Institute. Calmette unveils Pasteur's statue. Two more shots of factories and industrialized Lille. A plaque says "Dispensaire Emile Roux pour la prophylaxie de la tuberculose 1901" (Emile Roux Health Centre for the prevention of tuberculosis). Calmette examines something at the microscope and nods at Guerin, who shows him a thermometer. Photograph of the laboratory where Calmette conducted his research. Calmette walks towards a window, Guerin sees him, grabs some liquid in a glass container, a tube and leaves the room. Guerin pours the liquid down a cow's throat through the tube, while two men hold it still and Calmette observes. Guerin carries out an autospy on the animal. Both scientists notice the damage the virus has caused to the animal's internal organs. Guerin sterilizes the instruments for the next experiment. They feed the virus to a guinea pig. They carry out an autopsy, but the results are still disappointing. Calmette looks out of a window, thoughtful. Shot of a thermometer, then a shot of the pot in which they sterilize their instruments. A hand injects the virus in a guinea pig with a syringe. They carry out another autopsy but it is not successful, Calmette looks disappointed. They inject a cow with the virus. Guerin examines the viscera of the animal. Shot of a miscroscope. Guerin smokes and Calmette discusses his conclusions. A hand puts a sample of the virus in two test-tubes. Calmette lights Guerin's cigarette as they discuss their new experiment. A stick rubbing against the cotton in the test-tube. Guerin puts the test-tubes in a safe, dark room. Close-up of the stick in the test-tube. The test-tubes are stored away. A man writes the date 10th of January 1910 on a cage and puts the guinea pigs in a bigger container. Shot of the test-tubes. The same man puts the guinea pigs back in the cage. Calmette and Guerin smile as they carry out an autopsy on a guinea pig and find that the virus and become harmless. Shot of a newspaper. Guerin and Calmette vaccinate two cows: one with the harmless vaccine, the other with the virulent vaccine. Guerin and Calmette go back to the cows and the one which was given the virulent vaccine has died. They smile as they discuss the results. Close up of a light bulb. Calmette writes a letter to Lille. Guerin examines something at the microscope, then turns with a grave air to a younger man in the room who also looks worried, as World War One has just broken out. Two shots of the empty rooms where the animals used to be. Guerin takes the test-tubes out and touches them with affection. Calmette works day and night on a book about his experiments, he smokes a pipe and paces slowly around the room. Montage of windows and glass containers breaking in the laboratory because of an explosion. Calmette runs to the laboratory and smiles when he sees the test-tubes are intact. Shot of the first page of the Gazette des Ardennes. Close-up of the Bulletin Officiels Allemands, then the Bulletin Officiels Francais. Shot of a war cemetery, endless rows of crosses fill the frame. Guerin and Calmette sadly shake hands, Calmette gets on a train and they wave at each other as the train slowly leaves the station. Guerin takes out a small amount of vaccine from one of the test-tubes by rubbing a long stick in it. Close-up of the test-tubes. Guerin activates a machine that spins and has a white liquid in it. Five vials on a table. A car and the outside of a building. Calmette plays with his pen and thinks whether to authorize the first vaccination on humans, while a man sits in front of him. A nurse holds a baby while a man feeds him a spoonful of vaccine. The crying baby is put in a chest and vials of vaccine sit on a table next to him. Close-up of the same spinning machine with the same white liquid inside. First page of 'Techniques of Immunization Against Tuberculosis' by Calmette and Guerin, among others. Long pan of the books where all the names of the children who have been vaccinated are written. Calmette picks up a newspaper and puts it down in shock. Shots of three German newspapers, carrying the terrible news of children dying after the vaccination. Calmette enters a room with six people writing and reading, possibly science students, and Guerin, who tells him that he does not understand what went wrong in Germany. Calmette slowly leaves the building. A ship's horn, smoke comes out of the chimney. Calmette sits in his cabin reading a newspaper, grimly. A boat carrying a Swedish flag approaches and a few men board the Oslo, Calmette's ship. A waiter knocks on his door to let him know that somebody is looking for him and Calmette follows him. Three German scientists greet him on the deck to show their respect and admiration in spite of what happened to those children and Calmette looks at peace with himself. Series of shots of Oslo and a Swedish child. First page of a German newspaper: after a trial, it was deliberated that the death of the children was due to the incorrect preparation of the vaccine in Germany. Calmette paces down a hall and enters a room. Two scientists prepare vaccines. Two shots of the machine that puts the vaccine in the vials. Four shots of children being vaccinated in different parts of the world. The Pasteur Institute in Saigon. Two shots of Calmette's bust by the institute. Guerin, much older, walks into a library, sits and looks in the distance.

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