The Constant Gardener
Produced by Potboiler Productions and Scion Films
Directed by Fernando Meirelles,
Screenplay by Jeffrey Caine from John Le Carré’s novel
Distributed by Focus Features
What’s in your medicine chest? Aspirin, ibuprofen, antibiotics? Let me prescribe another medicine: John Le Carré’s disturbing novel, The Constant Gardener (2001), and its recent screen adaptation directed with rat-a-tat-tat urgency by Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Meirelles. You will never think about pharmaceutical companies in quite the same way, unless, of course, you are already aware of how vast sectors of this industry have been taken over by corporate charlatans.
While many complain about pharmaceutical prices, most of us like to think of the industry as one that is fighting honorably to protect us from the natural shocks of living with microbes and wayward cells. Ever since penicillin was developed in the 1940’s, we have been taught to trust each new wonder drug as one more milestone in our march to a perfectly disease-free world. Over the past 60 years, however, well-educated confidence men—the descendants, no doubt, of an earlier era’s patent-medicine hucksters—have gained influential positions in many of the pharmaceutical giants and have exploited the public’s trust unconscionably. ...