Wit (2001) – “And death shall be no more, death, thou shalt die”


Where do the two different disciplines- literature and medicine intersect in the mind of a patient?  Watch the film, and you might just find the answer. Wit is a film directed by Mike Nichols, based on the play written by Margaret Edson. The movie has brings out our emotions, just like poetry does, or any other form of art for that matter, created to tap into our feelings.

In the clip above, Vivian Bearing, a scholar driven by intellect and wit would have to face the toughest battle of her life. Several writers especially those who had to deal with death personally, such as Paul Kalanthi (author of ‘When Breath Meets Air’), speak of finding meaning in the last days before death. As for the character Vivian, who happens to be a professor of English literature, the power of words and language help keep things in perspective without losing herself as she faces the inevitable outcome of her situation.

Stage 4 ovarian cancer means that the cancer has metastasised to other parts of the body away from the ovaries. The 5-year-survival rate is 5% in that case. Emma Thompson (as Vivian Bearing) acts remarkably well in the film, as she deals with the harsh side effects of chemotherapy, her grim prognosis and questions her life before and after the diagnosis. Although Vivian’s physical strength is challenged every step of the way, she opens up to us, becomes vulnerable, exposed, and yet, she manages to retain her mental capacity by reasoning with her mind every step of the way.

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Lekaashree Rambabu

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