Directed by Frederick Wiseman (USA, 1989, 498 min.). 16mm.

Near Death is a film about the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. The film is concerned with how people face death. More specifically the film presents the complex interrelationships among patients, families, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and religious advisors as they confront the personal, ethical, medical, psychological, religious, and legal issues involved in making decisions about whether or not to give life-sustaining treatment to dying patients.

Preceded by an introduction by Mitchell T. Rabkin, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, who was CEO of Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital from 1966 to 1996. Rabkin went on to head the hospital’s parent corporation, CareGroup, as Beth Israel merged with New England Deaconess Hospital to form Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the late 90s.

“This documentary is, quite simply, the most powerful dose of medical reality ever administered by the tube.” —Harry F. Waters, Newsweek

“Those who see it will be irrevocably altered by the experience.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Read the New York Times review


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