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And the Band Played On (film): Wikis


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And the Band Played On

Promotional poster
Approx. run time 141 minutes
Distributed by HBO
Creator Randy Shilts (book)
Written by Arnold Schulman
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
Produced by Sarah Pillsbury
Midge Sanford
Starring Matthew Modine
Alan Alda
Editing by Lois Freeman-Fox
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography Paul Elliott
Budget $8 million
Country  United States
Language English
Release date September 11, 1993

And the Band Played On is a 1993 American television film docudrama directed by Roger Spottiswoode. The teleplay by Arnold Schulman is based on the best-selling 1987 non-fiction book And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts.

The film premiered at the Montreal Film Festival before being broadcast by HBO on September 11, 1993. It later was released theatrically in the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Austria, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, France, Denmark, and Australia.


Plot synopsis

In a prologue set in 1976, American epidemiologist Don Francis arrives in a village on the banks of the Ebola River in DR Congo and discovers many of the residents and the doctor working with them have died from a mysterious illness later identified as Ebola hemorrhagic fever. It is his first exposure to such an epidemic, and the images of the dead he helps cremate will haunt him when he later becomes involved with HIV and AIDS research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 1981, Francis becomes aware of a growing number of deaths from unexplained sources among gay men in Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco, and is prompted to begin an in-depth investigation of the possible causes. Working with no money, limited space, and outdated equipment, he comes in contact with politicians and numerous members of the medical community, many of whom resent his involvement because of their personal agendas, and gay leaders. Of the latter, some—such as Bill Kraus—support him, while others express resentment at what they see as unwanted interference in their lifestyles, especially his attempts to close the local bathhouses. While Francis pursues his theory that AIDS is caused by a sexually transmitted virus on the model of feline leukemia, he finds his efforts are stonewalled by, among others, the CDC, which is loath to prove the disease is transmitted through blood, and competing French and American scientists, particularly Dr. Robert Gallo, who squabble about who should receive credit for discovering the virus. Meanwhile, the death toll climbs rapidly.

Principal cast

Critical reception

In his review in Variety, Tony Scott said, "If there are lapses, director Spottiswoode's engrossing, powerful work still accomplishes its mission: Shilts' book, with all its shock, sorrow and anger, has been transferred decisively to the screen."[1]

Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly graded the film B+ and called it an "intriguing, sometimes awkward, always earnest combination of docudrama, medical melodrama, and mystery story . . . The stars lend warmth to a movie necessarily preoccupied with cold research and politics, and they lend prestige: The movie must be important, since actors of this stature agreed to appear. The result of the stars' generosity, however, works against the movie by halting the flow of the drama every time a familiar face pops up on screen . . . The emotions and agony involved in this subject give Band an irresistible power, yet the movie's rhythm is choppy and the dialogue frequently stiff and clichéd. The best compliment one can pay this TV movie is to say that unlike so many fact-based films, it does not exploit or diminish the tragedy of its subject."[2]

Time Out New York says, "So keen were the makers of this adaptation of Randy Shilts' best-seller to bombard us with the facts and figures of the history of AIDS that they forgot to offer a properly dramatic human framework to make us care fully about the characters . . . The film [is] a disjointed, clichéd narrative."[3]

Channel 4 says the film "is stifled by good intentions and a distractingly generous cast of stars in leads and cameos."[4]

Film review website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 100% "Fresh" rating based on eight reviews.[5]

Awards and nominations

Emmy Awards

  • Outstanding Made for Television Movie (winner)
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement in Casting (winner)
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Miniseries or a Special - Single Camera Production (winner)
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing for a Miniseries or a Special (nominee)
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Miniseries or a Special (nominee)
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special (Matthew Modine, nominee)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special (Alan Alda, nominee)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special (Richard Gere, nominee)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special (Ian McKellen, nominee)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special (Swoosie Kurtz, nominee)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special (Lily Tomlin, nominee)
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement in Art Direction for a Miniseries or a Special (nominee)
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Special (nominee)
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Miniseries or a Special (nominee)

Golden Globe Awards

CableACE Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Miniseries (Ian McKellen, winner)
  • Best Movie or Miniseries (nominee)
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Miniseries (Richard Gere, nominee)
  • Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Miniseries (Lawrence Monoson, nominee)
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries (Swoosie Kurtz, nominee)
  • Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries (Lily Tomlin, nominee)
  • Best Make-Up (nominee)

Additional awards


  1. ^ Variety review
  2. ^ Entertainment Weekly review
  3. ^ Time Out New York review
  4. ^ Channel 4 review
  5. ^ And the Band Played On at

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

And the Band Played On is a 1993 HBO film about the discovery of the AIDS epidemic and the political infighting of the scientific community hampering the early fight with it..

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode. Written by Arnold Schulman, based on the novel by Randy Shilts.
A threat no one dared face. A word no one wanted to speak. A fight for many, fought by few.


Dr. Don Francis

  • This may be the first epidemic in history of which no one officially died.
  • How many hemophiliacs have to die before it'll be cost effective for you people to do something about it? A hundred? A thousand? Give us a number so we won't annoy you until the amount of money you start losing on LAWSUITS makes it PROFITABLE for you to save people than to kill them!


  • The Choreographer: The party's over.
  • Dr. Dennis Donohue: When the doctors start acting like businessmen, who do the people turn to for doctors?
  • Roger Gail Lyon: This is not a political issue. This is a health issue. This is not a gay issue. This is a human issue. And I do not intend to be defeated by it. I came here today in the hope that my epitaph would not read that I died of red tape.


External links

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