June 21, 2012
1: 17 AM

Coma (1978)

Crichton adapts a chilling novel by Robin Cook into a thoroughly gripping medical thriller on a dreaded conspiracy over healthy patients falling into coma during minor surgeries performed in one of the biggest hospitals of the country. Susan Wheeler, a young hospital resident, who loses her dear friend to this mysterious line of events rides on her suspicion until she realizes she has nobody including her boyfriend to confide in. All alone, she sets off relentlessly to uncover the glaring truth behind the surgeries and a devilish care facility that later preserves those brain-dead victims.

Coma doesn’t move as a bland medical thriller boasting a series of intellectual conversations frilled by medical jargon but as a rebel against the hardbound exploitation of the weak that catapults the medical field as the world’s greatest power. Why are doctors hailed as second to none? Why do we trust them? Why do we strip ourselves and lie buck naked on the table telling them, “Cut me doctor, for I trust I’ll come back in better shape!”? Because, doctors know what kills us and what keeps us alive. And when it comes to making lethal decisions on who lives and who does not, the society leaves it to the doctors thus making them the ultimate vested power.

Though the movie builds up slowly, there’s an underlying psychological tension, particularly in the mind of Susan Wheeler who shows great resolve amidst vulnerable situations of alienation. The brilliant aspect is how the narrow corridors and tight crawlspaces are used to box the viewer into suffocation along with her. Coma appalls you in the end yet raises serious questions over medical ethics, human values, and above all the insatiable desire for power.

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