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Wit (2001)

Christopher Lloyd , Emma Thompson , Mike Nichols  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Christopher Lloyd, Emma Thompson, Audra Mc Donald, Harold Pinter
  • Directors: Mike Nichols
  • Writers: Margaret Edson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French, English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: September 11, 2001
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005MKKV
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,721 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Wit" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Deservedly hailed as one of the best films of 2001, Wit makes it clear why top-ranking talents seek refuge in the quality programming of HBO. Unhindered by box-office pressures, director Mike Nichols and Emma Thompson turn the most unglamorous topic--the physical and psychological ravages of cancer--into an exquisite contemplation of life, learning, and tenacious, richly expressed humanity. In adapting Margaret Edson's compassionate, Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Nichols and Thompson open up the one-room setting with a superb supporting cast. But their focus remains on the hospital experience of Vivian (Thompson), a fiercely demanding professor of English literature whose academic specialty--the metaphysical poetry of John Donne--is the armor she wears against the cruel indignities of her cancer treatment. While losing all that she held dear, she reassesses her life as an aloof intellectual, and Wit illuminates her bracingly eloquent and deeply moving struggle for dignity, meaning, and peace at life's ultimate crossroads. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Emma Thompson, Christopher Lloyd. Powerful story of a cancer-afflicted, iron-willed professor and her struggle to accept her weakening condition and inevitable fate. 2001/color/99 min/PG-13/widescreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
172 of 179 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH... April 14, 2002
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This brilliant adaptation of Margaret Edison's Pulitzer Prize winning play is simply superb. Beautifully directed by Mike Nichols, it is peppered with superlative performances by its cast. It is almost hard to believe that this profoundly moving and poignant film was released for HBO, rather than as a major box office, big screen release.

Tautly written, this remarkable film focuses on an intense and brilliant professor of English, forty-eight year old Vivian Bearing (Emma Thompson), whose academic focus has been metaphysical poetry. She has just been diagnosed by a noted oncologist, Dr. Kelikian (Christopher Lloyd), as having stage four ovarian cancer. She agrees to undergo an eight month long clinical trial to fight this illness, which at the juncture of its discovery is, invariably, terminal. This course of experimental treatment is Professor Bearing's only hope, as she realizes that there is no stage five.

As she undergoes agonizing medical procedures which, it is hoped, may save her life, Professor Bearing muses on a number of life issues in the form of droll monologues. It is these reflections on her life and her illness that drive home to the viewer her humanity, as she struggles to reconcile the abstract with reality. An aloof, spare woman, with a penchant for being a demanding and exacting teacher, Professor Bearing is now trying to hang on to her humanity and dignity, as she is reduced to being a mere lump of flesh.

Made to suffer the indignities imposed by an experimental medical treatment that is brutally aggressive and by the ravages of an illness that is relentless, Professor Bearing keeps a stiff upper lip throughout, never letting down her guard, until the end draws near.
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83 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Undying Dignity. November 21, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I just tried to write a review of this just re-watched film, from the Pulitzer Prize winning play, and I got all tangled up. So, I'm not going to go into "the story." Just watch this brilliant, moving film about the regimented, respected but feared English professor, whose world is taken from her, when she is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Narrated throughout by her character, the brilliant Emma Thompson takes us through her progressive deterioration and loss of control amidst the sometimes indifference of the medical profession. Audra McDonald is wonderful also as the nurse, Susie, who, though a total professional, is not only the voice of compassion, but the keeper of Thompsons "Professor Barrie's" dignity, when she can no longer defend it for herself. She is a perfect contrast to the often all to real portrayal of the fresh-faced new doctor, played by Jonathan Woodward, who effectively conveys the preoccupation with stats, data, his eagerness to "analyze", forgetting there's a human being in that bed to which the stat chart is attached. The scene near the end, where Thompson/Barrie is visited by her grand-motherly former professor, who proceeds to cradle her in her hospital bed and tenderly read a childrens story to her, and bids her good bye, is one of the most moving scenes I've ever experienced. It is not an easy film to watch. Having just lost my life-long friend, who died at 47, in hospice, it was especially poignant. But, if you watch one film, watch "Wit." It is beyond being labeled as mere entertainment, and, though the subject matter is in itself depressing, the film is not. It is one of those increasingly very, very rare films that will greatly move you. Read more ›
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Coming to grips with paradoxes August 25, 2001
**SPOILER ALERT ** -- I touch on the ending of this movie in my review.

Two wonderful works are highlighted in "Wit" -- one of John Donne's Holy Sonnets ("Death be not proud") and "The Runaway Bunny" by Margaret Wise Brown. "Wit"'s author, Margaret Edson, pulls these two seemingly distant texts into her script and uses them in the most amazing (witty?) way.

Donne's metaphysical sonnets are notoriously difficult and are often approached as beautifully wrought puzzles -- puzzles that are so intellectually daunting the emotion that underlies them is sometimes missed. "The Runaway Bunny," on the other hand, is probably seen by many readers as a very simple tale full of feeling but not particularly challenging. Yet Edson shows us how deep and multilayered a children's tale can be while also demonstrating the basic human feeling underneath the most cerebral of poems. The simple becomes complex; the complex, simple.

We get the most out of literature when we approach it with our full humanity engaged, ignoring neither our thoughts nor our feelings. "Wit" tells us that we get the most out of life when we approach it in the same way.

Emma Thompson's cancer-stricken English professor, Vivian Bearing, ultimately triumphs over death by surrendering to it -- and it is this Donne-ish paradox that "Wit" illustrates so well. In the end, "Wit" wisely questions the notions 1) that intellect and emotion are two separate faculties and 2) that simplicity and complexity are necessarily opposites. (One hallmark of Donne's "wit" -- a term Donne's contemporaries would've understood as creative invention -- was its examination of semantic antonyms.) "Wit" also reminds us that the infinite can be both large and small.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great movie with a strong, positive, and eye-opening message.
Published 2 days ago by Colbie Oden
4.0 out of 5 stars moving story
Had to write a paper on this movie, so I got a copy for myself for reference while I was drafting. Never ended up opening it because I later found it on youtube. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Wecollide
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read it!
Story of a brave woman battling ovarian cancer! Sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad exposing reality of hospital stay and side effects of chemo treatment! Read more
Published 15 days ago by Anes Hawro
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my top 3 movies
I have watched this movie close to 20 times, and each time it totally undoes me (in a good way). I love the insights into Donne, the power-play between professor and doctor, and... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Customer Bob
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Performance
Emma Thompson is brilliant in this and the story is touching and will stay with you, especially if you've been touched in any way by cancer. Recommend.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and played
I bought this DVD when my son recommended it. I have recently lost two long-distance friends to ovarian cancer and they both tended to hide their pain while "thinking... Read more
Published 2 months ago by E. Johanna Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Hands Down...outstanding! If you like SERIOUS ACTING.
Hands Down...outstanding! If you like SERIOUS ACTING. Emma Thompson is the real deal. She's serious about the craft like Meryl Streep.
Published 3 months ago by jhhms
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to experience...
Wit takes you through a woman's diagnosis of cancer to her demise. It is no easy watch was so well done. ... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Caitlin Metcalf
5.0 out of 5 stars WIT
This movie was fantastic. It really opened my eyes to what a cancer patient goes through and how horrible some medical professionals can be to the patients. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nancy Henson
5.0 out of 5 stars Wit
This movie made me cry, I loved it. For me it showed a strong woman teaching life to students but forgot about compassion that we all need. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Patricia Theriot
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