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Produced by Jonathan Goodwill; directed by Wayne Tourell
Atlantis Films/South Pacific Pictures, 1992. VHS cassette, 26 min., $99.00
Distributed by Magic Lantern Communications, Unit #38, 775 Pacific Rd., Oakville, Ont. L6L 6M4.

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Kathleen L. Kellett-Betsos.

Volume 21 Number 4
1993 September

Fortitude is one in a series of films based on stories by Kurt Vonnegut. Although Vonnegut himself greets the audience with the words, "Welcome to the Monkey House," this particular narrative is adapted from an earlier screenplay and, unlike other stories in this series, is not taken from Welcome to the Monkey House (Dell, 1970).

This film examines the question of medical technology and the quality of life. Sylvia Lovejoy, a wealthy widow, has signed a contract with her doctor to pay him exorbi­tantly for each day that he keeps her alive. He has succeeded in replacing almost all her organs with machines. Tired of her immobile, artificial existence, she seeks someone to help her die, despite her doctor's opposition. To this end, she has written to an actor who plays a doctor on a daytime soap opera, certain that he must be as compassionate as his character. The audience shares her feeling of triumph when she outwits the doctor and condemns him to the existence he had planned for her.

The set is well designed, so that the technological apparatus is believable. The acting conveys the caricature nature of the characters, especially the doctor with his complacent self-righteousness.

Useful in English classes as a complement to the study of Vonnegut's work, this film would also be a good starting point for classroom discussion of such issues as euthanasia, the role of technology, and the influence of television. The technical production is excellent.

Kathleen L. Kellett-Betsos is an assistant professor at Ryerson Polytechnical University in Toronto, Ontario.
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