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Life Arts

An Appreciation of the Movie, The Constant Gardener

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"In London, Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) meets and falls in love with outspoken humanitarian Tessa (Rachel Weisz), a beautiful young activist who persuades him to take her back with him to Africa.

Quayle, a shy low-rung British diplomat and horticultural hobbyist posted in Kenya, is one to avoid making a fuss until he learns that his wife was found dead on the veldt. Tessa has been murdered at a crossroads along with her African driver. Her colleague doctor Arnold Bluhm (Hubert Kounde) is initially suspected of her murder but is later found to have been murdered on the same day as Tessa. Various rumors abound that the two were having an affair; however, it is later revealed that Bluhm is in fact gay.

As the mystery surrounding his wife's death unfolds, Quayle is radicalized in his determination to get to the bottom of his wife's murder. He soon runs up against a drug corporation that's using Africa's population for fraudulent testing of a drug with known harmful side effects and disregards the well-being of its poor African test subjects." (Wiki)

I read the book on which this movie was based about the time the movie came out in 2005. And today, with the genocides being committed in Africa, on all sides it seems in fact and in history, The Constant Gardener views like pretty tame stuff.

But it's not tame, and it's the best popular movie to date on the horrors being committed in Africa.

The most memorable quotation in the movie for me was a one-liner by the female German research scientist whom Fiennes finally contacts, who has the best knowledge regarding secret testings of a new drug on Kenyans by a giant, international drug company, and who tells Fiennes (the movie's main character): "If you put $50,000 in the right hands, you can test battery acid for a skin cleanser." But those were the good old days; these days it would cost British (or American) taxpayers $5,000,000 dollars and effective grants of immunity.

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Weisz is a consummate actor and can be strikingly beautiful or new-generation-plain whenever she wants to be; she won an Oscar for her performance in A Constant Gardener. Fiennes is also a consummate actor, and has been nominated twice for Academy Awards. He was the main character in the Coen Brother's extraordinary 1990 gangster film Miller's Crossing.

Rachel Weisz, 2007 (Wiki) by Wikipedia

The Constant Gardener movie and the book as I remember it now seem almost quaint. But the forces they identify as Evils continue their murdering, and murder more effectively today than five years ago in many places on the Dark Continent. These Evils are money grubbing owners of international corporations in secret collusion with high Western and African politicians.

If there is a God, may he damn them all to hell.

Get the DVD. See the movie again, if you've already seen it, or see it for the first time. And see that your children and their children see it with you.

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I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)

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