(Drama) Something the Lord Made tells the emotional true story of two men who defied the rules of their time to launch a medical revolution, set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow south. Working in 1940s Baltimore on an unprecedented technique for performing heart surgery on "blue babies," Dr. Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman) and lab technician Vivien Thomas (Mos Def) form an impressive team. As Blalock and Thomas invent a new field of medicine, saving thousands of lives in the process, social pressures threaten to undermine their collaboration and tear their friendship apart.
Something the Lord Made
recounts the relationship between Dr. Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman) and Vivian Thomas (Mos Def). It begins in 1930s Nashville when imperious cardiac surgeon Blalock hires Thomas, an African American carpenter, as his janitor. When the latter reveals a passion for medicine and facility with surgical instruments, Blalock promotes him to lab tech. Thomas isn't given a raise, works side jobs to make ends meet, and is expected to be grateful. Along the way, he follows Blalock from Vanderbilt to Johns Hopkins, where they save thousands of lives through their pioneering work, but will Thomas ever get any credit? The film provides a satisfying answer to that question. Joseph Sargent (A Lesson Before Dying
) directs with subtlety and intelligence, while Rickman and Mos Def are in top form, often underplaying where most actors would do otherwise. Something the Lord Made
won the 2004 Emmy for outstanding made-for-TV movie. --Kathleen C. Fennessy