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Influenza 1918

1991

DOCUMENTARY

In September of 1918, soldiers at an army base near Boston suddenly began to die. Doctors found the victims' lungs filled with fluid and strangely blue. They identified the cause of the death as influenza, but it was unlike any strain ever seen. It would become the worst epidemic in American history, killing over 600,000 -- more than all the nation's combat deaths this century combined.

Drawing on remarkable archival photographs and film footage, and interviews with survivors and medical historians, Influenza 1918 tells the powerful story of America's worst health crisis. Despite recent triumphs over many infectious diseases, medical science proved powerless against the killer virus. In desperation, people turned to folk remedies: garlic, camphor balls, sugar cubes soaked with kerosene. Frantic officials closed schools, factories, and churches, and everyone was required to wear a mask. But the virus was unstoppable. Relentless. Lethal. Curiously, this painful event has nearly faded from our national memory. But as this gripping medical thriller proves, it is a story that deserves never to be forgotten.



REVIEWS

“Producer/Director Robert Kenner has devised an artful interpretation of this grim episode from our history, combining archival film footage and still photos with stylistic devices that re-create the mood, tone, and settings of the times.”
New York Daily News

Influenza 1918 errs on the side of mood and artsiness, but it plays like a bio-thriller straight out of Hollywood.” —New York Post

“It’s one of the finest programs I have ever seen.” — Orlando Sentinel

“Chilling…intensely moving” — Wall Street Journal





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