Concussion movie full length review - This outstanding film is about how doing the right thing, even as a medical doctor, can get the doctor into all sorts of very serious trouble.
This outstanding film is about how doing the right thing, even as a medical doctor, can get the doctor into all sorts of very serious trouble.
In a normal African country, news about this kind of film about a heroic African doctor would be shouted from the roof-tops. The publicity from the mega movie distribution houses, cinema chains and media would be in your face all the time.
However, Dr Omalu was made to feel like a criminal. The doctor had crossed the line and cared more than he was supposed to.
A public service Pittsburgh pathologist with many medical degrees, Dr Bennet Omalu, dared to expose the cerebral damage that was being suffered by American football players when they head-butted and engaged in other dangerous activities in the course of participating in their aggressive sport.
The trauma is often intra-cerebral and is not detectable with CAT scans. Doctors at that time were mystified by the bizarre behaviour, memory loss, headaches, depression and sometimes violent, irresponsible acts of these former professional sports stars when they reached their forties and fifties. Macroscopic examination revealed virtually nothing to the pathologist.
The quietly spoken, dignified and professional Dr Omalu is very thorough and meticulous; an 'alien' Ibo from Nigeria, the Black African doctor was always under the microscope. His ability and findings would always be unashamedly questioned and doubted; he would always have to try much harder to have his work and himself accepted. Disgrace and deportation is but a hair's breath away for many such professionals who are non white immigrants doing very difficult work in a 'white' country. He worked in the state sector; his working methods upset some of his colleagues as his professional output would be less.
Omalu has great respect for the deceased and he wanted to know about the kind of lives that they had led before they ended up on the mortician's table. Having that kind of attitude meant that he would question why young football players would behave as they did before they died prematurely, and why some even committed suicide. Dr Omalu decided to do histopathological slides of the brains of the athletes - at his own expense with money from his savings. The Public Service would not allow such expensive procedures being undertaken on the presumption that there might be pathology detectable in a brain. That's when he saw the intra-cerebral bleeding and other damage that led to the premature deaths of revered, national sporting heroes.
Sadly, many whites and even other doctors had a problem with addressing Dr Omalu by his professional name in a professional environment. We see too much of that in South Africa as well. These privileged Americans saw that he qualified in Africa. How could he be a 'real' doctor?
The doctor responded by studying almost continuously; he would not even switch on his TV and, for a long time, he did not marry; he accumulated a vast array of impressive medical and other qualifications. But of course, that meant nothing to antipathetic racists. One reviewer of CONCUSSION even called Omalu's achievements 'comical'. Despite all this opprobrium and lack of understanding, Dr Omalu was prepared to go out to bat, with an extraordinary zeal, for the people of his adopted country.
This foreign graduate had to convince the American establishment that his findings were accurate. His article was published in a medical journal, finally, but this was just one case. Many more athletes had to die in similar circumstances before the American public could be alerted. The NFL behemoth fought our modern day Don Quixote all the way, tooth and nail.
Opposing a wealthy, all powerful establishment which is abrogating its responsibility, is nothing to be undertaken lightly.
The ogres in power have access to all manner of resources including the wherewithal to undermine (sometimes via the media and biased, traitorous, embedded journalists) the doctor's reputation, his career, his family life, threaten his home and make a social pariah of the doctor even among his colleagues; they are happy to use gangsters to harass the doctor and his family and generally make his life and the lives of those he loves an absolute, living hell.
Being a medical doctor is stressful enough. Acting on behalf of the public is far too dangerous. When the doctor is not even an American citizen, and is courting deportation because of his ethical deeds, then one can see how brave and honourable this Ibo doctor was.
Dr Omalu naively thought that the NFL would welcome his discovery of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and that they would try to make the game safer.
From threatening phone calls to being undermined at work to having his family life disrupted, Dr Omalu knew it all, but still he persevered. His greater allegiance was, in the manner of a Dennis Brutus, to an unknowing and anonymous public; their well-being and welfare was being undermined by a greedy, rat-like cabal who tried, like the cigarette manufacturers, to keep the people ignorant.
FBI agents raided the office of Omalu's boss, and questioned that doctor's use of stationery and even his use of the fax machine! hey also threatened Omalu. The pressure was unremitting.
The NFL held a conference to examine Omalu's claims but would not allow Omalu to present his findings. Instead a white doctor (played by Baldwin), (who had joined Omalu in his fight against the NFL) who had been a Football Team doctor, was called in to testify. Omalu's claims were dismissed as injuries caused by 'other factors' like 'diving into water' etc. Eventually, Dr Omalu and his family relocated to a job in California.
After many years, the US dept of health invited Dr Omalu to take a prominent position with them. He declined the offer.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film.