Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/417/4746

From The Socialist newspaper, 24 November 2005

Review:

The Constant Gardener directed by Fernando Mereilles

Adapted from the novel by John Le Carré

John Le Carré's novel The Constant Gardener is a devastating attack on the role of the pharmaceutical multinational companies and their ruthless cynical exploitation of Africa. Like his more recent book, Absolute Friends, it reveals a Le Carré who has become increasingly enraged by the excesses of capitalism during the 1990s, especially the Iraq war.

Tony Saunois

Both these novels are by far the best works he has produced since the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in the former USSR and Eastern Europe - which were the background to his excellent thrillers about the secret services and such celebrated characters as George Smiley in Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy.

The film, The Constant Gardener, directed by Fernando Meirelles, is in marked contrast to his previous work, City of God. However, it does only credit to the novel and is a powerful depiction of the real role of the major drug companies.

The story is of a plot to expose the Three Bs and KHC drug companies. A major TB epidemic is anticipated and a new miracle cure, Dypraxa, stands to make these companies billions of pounds once the epidemic hits. However, the drug needs to be tested. A delay of three years to allow for modifications to the drug would cost too much. So the drugs are simply tested out on HIV positive Africans. The result is speedier death at the hands of Three Bs - a calculated mass murder. As one African doctor put it in the film: "This is how the world fucks Africa".

The central plot deals with the exposure of the scandal by Tessa Quayle (played by Rachael Weisz) and her diplomat husband, Justin (played by Ralph Fiennes) who works for the Foreign Office at the High Commission in Kenya. She is determined to expose what is happening. He begins life as the 'fluffy', impeccable diplomat unaware of what his wife is up to. They meet at a conference early in the film, where she makes an impassioned attack on the Iraq war.

Her murder, along with that of Arnold, an African doctor, shatters Justin's world and exposes him to the brutal ruthlessness of the pharmaceutical giants and their drive for profit. The official version put to Justin is that Tessa and Arnold were having an affair and were murdered when away for a weekend. However, he becomes aware that in fact Arnold was gay and his suspicion is aroused. Justin is driven to unearth the murder and cover-up which involves the drug companies, the Kenyan government and the British state.

Sir Bernard Pellegrin, of the Foreign and Commonwealth office, played by Bill Nighy, gives a masterly portrayal of a representative of the English ruling class. The understatement of language and impeccable politeness is a velvet glove that covers a cold steel fist that is used to defend class and 'national' interests.

The film is not without its humour as Tessa embarrasses assorted diplomats and government officials at official receptions and parties. But its central theme is the drive for profit by the drug companies. "They are no better than the arms industry", complains Ghita, one of Tessa's friends.

The film differs from the book in some ways. Justin's detective work is shortened, as is his travel. The film is seen more through the eyes of Kenya than the British diplomatic service.

However, Mierelles has directed a powerful film which although providing no solutions, firmly puts the drug companies and the British diplomatic service in the dock and is well worth going to see.

The actors succeed in bringing Le Carré's characters to life. The filming, on location in Kenya, reveals some spectacular shots. If anybody thinks that the story is a bit far-fetched, they could consider John Le Carré's comments about his novel: "As my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realise that, by comparison with the reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard".

The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré
Hodder and Stoughton £7.99
Available from Socialist Books

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 24 November 2005:

Don't let 'fat cats' axe our NHS

Save our health service

Campaign for a new workers' party

Big business destroying the planet

On the threshold of genderquake?

Demo opposes deportations

The Constant Gardener directed by Fernando Mereilles

Iraq - anger grows at brutal occupation

Turbulent politics as Sharon divorces Likud

Big gains for United Socialist Party

Venezuela: Stop the repression of trade unionists

Sheffield bus protest

Defending jobs, services and rights

FE colleges on strike!


 

Home   |   The Socialist 24 November 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Drug companies:

triangleSt Austell: STPs attacked

triangleThem & Us

triangleHeartless Tories chop funds for life-extending cancer drugs

triangleTamiflu scandal exposes bloodsucking big pharma

triangleNHS: Kick out big Pharma

Pharmaceutical:

triangleThem and us

triangleBuild a movement to save our NHS

triangleDon't we need competition to spur on progress?

Kenya:

trianglePlanes, trains and automobiles

triangleImperialism in Africa today

Africa:

triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution

triangleZimbabwe: Mugabe gone - but his regime remains in power

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

13/12/17

The Socialist

The Socialist's 2017 quiz

6/12/17

Fire

The Socialist Inbox

6/12/17

Surrey

Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane

6/12/17

Labour Party

Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed

30/11/17

Theatre

Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike

22/11/17

Working class

Left comic's take on politics will have you in tears

22/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

15/11/17

The Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

15/11/17

Abortion

TV review: Abortion on Trial - hard-hitting look at impact of 1967 act

15/11/17

Vietnam war

Comprehensive account of bloody conflict

8/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

8/11/17

Obituary

Obituary: Paul Randall, 1959-2017

8/11/17

Theatre

Welsh update of Chekhov an engrossing tale of 1980s class conflict

1/11/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

25/10/17

Letters

The Socialist inbox

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle14 Dec Stop the rotten redevelopment plan, demand residents

triangle13 Dec Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

triangle13 Dec Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

triangle13 Dec Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangle13 Dec Trump's incendiary Jerusalem statement reignites Israeli-Palestinian...

triangle13 Dec Labour 'purge' furore really just democracy

EU parliament, Strasbourg

triangle13 Dec Brexit deal no solution to Tory rifts

More ...

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

triangle21 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Socialists and the National Question

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2