Triumph at Carville
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
has for more than a century been an international destination for patients
suffering from Hansen's disease, commonly known as leprosy.
Built around the remains of a run-down plantation, the center opened in 1894 and is still home to several patients.
Caused by a bacterium, the infectious disease -- a disfiguring biblical scourge that's treatable due in part to research done at Carville but still not entirely understood -- continues to afflict about 200 Americans each year. Worldwide estimates are poorly documented, but annual estimates of new diagnoses top 750,000.
That tiny Carville, about 60 miles upriver from New Orleans, came to be a global nexus for patient care and treatment is but one of the stories told in "Triumph."
Staffed by Daughters of Charity nuns but administered by the federal government, the center was a unique church-and-state partnership that was both a haven and a kind of prison for patients, some of whom were committed and confined there against their will.
Old photos, radio broadcasts and newsreel-type films illuminate the
first-person stories told by longtime patients, their offspring, doctors,
staffers and administrators.
The stories are not always uplifting. According to the film, locals didn't
universally welcome the hospital's residents, such were the horrors of the disease's symptoms.
Says one former director of the center, "Let's put it this way: They were treated like lepers."
And yet, according to a title card flashed early in the film, none of the
workers at Carville ever caught the disease.
On the inside, life was lived as fully as it could be, as evidenced by
stories about Mardi Gras and Christmas celebrations, weddings, a
patient-published newsletter, and the occasional breakout runs to LSU football games or a nearby roadhouse.
One of the more heartbreaking facts of life at Carville was that children
of married patients were removed to orphanages or foster care.
And yet, witnesses to life there interviewed for the film recall its
heyday in mostly warm terms, despite such sometimes sad history. (Decommissioned as a federal center in 1999 -- and after hosting more than 5,000 resident patients -- it's now overseen by the Louisiana National Guard.)
Among the outsiders interviewed are political consultant/commentator
James Carville (who explains how the town got his family's name) and former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, who comments on the lessons learned during the ill-conceived quarantine days.
The soundtrack, composed and performed by banjo master Bela Fleck (aided bysuch killer players as bassist Edgar Meyer and dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas), is a haunting and subtle aural base built around instrumentation including bass harmonica, wood flute and clarinet.
The filmmakers are Sally Squires, a Washington Post reporter, and John
Wilhelm, a former Time magazine science correspondent.
Squires began making reporting visits to Carville nearly two decades ago. Her trips resulted eventually in a National Public Radio documentary and now this troubling, challenging, beautiful film. --The Times-Picayune by Columnist Dave Walker March 27, 2008
Top Customer Reviews
My mother would not speak to anyone about her life. Sally Squires was able to draw her story out with respect and understanding. My father trusted her to tell the story without fear of sensationalism.
Anyone who sees this film will come away with a better understanding of what it means when the doctors says you have leprosy.
Anne Harmon Brett
Very inspirational. Highly recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Informative interviews take you back to a scary time in our history but with the recent Ebola scare it does not seem as though we have grown very much since this time.Published 19 months ago by Fiona
I work in Carville and it is wonderful to know its history. I enjoyed learning more about this beautiful place. A part of our unique Louisiana history.Published on January 26, 2014 by Toni M. Hebert
Very good service, especially when Amazon pointed out to me that DVDs from different parts of the world may not work on local DVD players (I live in New Zealand) - something we... Read morePublished on December 11, 2010 by Ric