6.7/10
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6 user 2 critic

Bethune: The Making of a Hero (1990)

Bethune has long been a hero in China. Perhaps for reasons of politics and personality, however, his fame in North America lagged far behind. The film explores the complexity of a character... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Dr. Norman Bethune
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Frances Penny Bethune
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Mrs. Dowd
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Chester Rice
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Mr. Tung
Da Guo ...
Dr. Chian (as Guo Da)
Harrison Liu ...
Dr. Fong
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Marie-France Coudaire
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Alan Coleman
Geoffrey Chater ...
Dr. Archibald
Zong-yao Tan ...
General Nieh (as Tan Zong Yao)
Ke-Yaw Zhang ...
Chairman Mao (as Zhang Ke Yaw)
...
Dr. Salvador (as Inaki Ayerra)
Li Hai Lang ...
Shiao
...
Frank Coudaire
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Storyline

Bethune has long been a hero in China. Perhaps for reasons of politics and personality, however, his fame in North America lagged far behind. The film explores the complexity of a character who could be narcissistic, petty, and cruel with those who loved him, yet capable of heroic generosity and creativity for those whom he scarcely knew. It was a Canada-China-France co-production, which by the time of its release had become the most expensive movie ever made in Canada. The production had been dogged by controversy over funding, politics, location, revenue, and a dispute over the script between the author, who had been with Bethune in Spain, and the leading actor who had already played Bethune in other venues. Some scenes are tinged with humor and Bethune's speeches about universal access to humane medicine have an uncanny appeal more than half a century later. With its beautiful backdrop of Chinese landscapes, Montreal snow, and 1930s nostalgia, the film is an evocative memorial to a... Written by Duffin, Jacalyn

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17 September 1993 (USA)  »

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Dr. Bethune  »

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Donald Sutherland had previously portrayed Dr. Bethune in a 1977 Canadian TV Movie titled Bethune. See more »

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Selfless international humanitarian and communist, Dr. Norman Bethune's story
12 October 2000 | by See all my reviews

"I refuse to condone, by passivity, or default, the wars which greedy men make against others. Spain and China are part of the same battle. I am going to China because I feel that is where I can be most useful."

-Dr. Norman Bethune

Donald Sutherland's performance was wonderful in this film. The story is important and truly interesting. Presenting the life of Dr. Norman Bethune and his complex character, he was both selfless and arrogant, an international humanitarian, an alchoholic and a communist who acted on his beliefs (when so many of us simply talk about them). Bethune was a champion of socialized medicine and a rabid anti-facist who though subject to entirely human failings also presented the best in human achievement. Bethune's life is fascinating and truly heroic and this film demonstrates that fact very well. Several of the rational criticisms leveled at the film by other IMDB commentators are apt, but the film is a triumph nonetheless. As for the 'up with communism' criticism: Of course Mao was a big problem for China and the Chinese people. But that was not evident in 1939. In 1939 Japanese were the problem. It is easy to be smart when looking back in time and with a history book on your lap. It is harder to forsee events when they havent happened yet. Perhaps our polish friend would have chosen differently had he been in the same position. But he could not have chosen better.


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