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Medical motion picture.

  • Videos

About this work


This historical film explains the growth and development of the medical motion picture in the US. The earliest example shown is from 1916, an operation, but this and other early examples are clearly running at the wrong speed. A nude baby with Oppenheim's disease (a form of paralysis in infancy with loss of spinal nerve and skeletal muscle) is shown to illustrate the use of medical motion imagery in the diagnosis of certain unusual medical conditions. Teamed with explanatory intertitles; 'the clinic is brought to the classroom'. It is noted that orthochromatic film was not able to differentiate blood and tissue (due to its insensitivity to oranges and reds). Medical motion images are extolled as a means to identify physiological phenomena (footage of 1926 intestinal peristaltic waves in a rabbit). The next shift in development was towards medical animations a film from 1927 is shown which illustrates the motion of the heart. Photomicrography from 1923 shows tissue growth; in primary research film was used to provide evidence of a membrane. In 1930, one of the earliest medical films with sound was screened at a AMA meeting (a brief clip is run). Panchromatic film stock was developed so that tissue and blood became visible. Colour film became more prevalent from the late 1930s and revolutionalised medical film making, There is a rare colour sequence of a baby born with an ectopic heart. Another unuusal case is a complete prolapse of the gential area in a baby. Another innovation was in endoscopy. A normal bowel is seen, then an abnormal one with visible polyps. The laryngoscope is shown in action with a normal larynx. (The film is particuarly interesting as the camera operators are seen in position, they are never usually seen). Colour animation can be used to explain various biomedical processes (several examples provided). The development of micrography and film have paved the way for films showing blood through the capillaries and sperm. Live x-ray cinematography was possible. Rare cases such as the symptoms of myasthenia gravis can be observed; a young woman demonstrates muscle fatigue. After treatment, she is much improved. A United States Navy film of Macaque monkeys are shown as they are exposed to decompression. Then, the brains of anaesthetised animals exposed to localised trauma are seen reacting in timelapse. Next, there are tips on how to make a good medical movie. The case study is of a film called 'Cancer of the thyroid'. The films suggest discussing the movie with colleagues first. Then to question the purpose of the film, its audience, the content and the 'type' of film. The film tells us that the best films are the ones which have gone through many drafts! Interestingly, there is a brief sequence in the film laboratory where the animation cells are synched. The finished film is run. The example given was apparently a genuine film made by a member cancer hospital institution. Full credit roll is provided.


United States, 1947.

Physical description

1 videocassette (DIGIBETA) (30 min.) : sound, color
1 DVD (30 min.) : sound, color



  • English

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