Critical Film Analysis of “Wit”
In this movie Vivian Bearings is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She is given “experimental” treatment. Some of the other characters include: Dr. Kelekian, the head doctor who informed her of her diagnosis; Jason Posner, the detached kid doctor and Susie, the sympathetic nurse. Throughout the movie Vivian goes through the different stages of death and dying, for example denial, anger, depression and acceptance.
The first stage we witness is her denial. She tells the doctors to keep up the highest doses thinking that she will be cured. She wants people to treat her just the same as the always have and even wants to continue teaching. In the beginning of this movie you could tell that she just was completely denying the fact that she could very well be dying. But the doctor helping her didn’t help. Jason was delighted with the results and made no emotional connection with his patient Vivian. He applauded her agreement to keep the high doses even if they were making her sick. With all the praises she was receiving for her “efforts” you would think that these efforts would actually amount to something, at least in her eyes I believe.
Next Vivian expresses the stage of anger. One scene that most clearly depicts this is when Susie is trying to get her to go for testing and she refuses. It is as if her rationalization is that if she does not go for the tests it will mean she doesn’t need to go to the tests, which would mean that she is cured. Although that is not true, given extreme circumstances we can sometimes rationalize very irrationally. It is at this point where Susie begins to become more of a caring friend to Vivian instead of just a nurse. She is the only one out of all the other doctors who does this.
After anger Vivian goes into a depression. She is hardly speaking and the doctors’ visits seem pointless to her. As she slips more into depression Jason makes himself more and more detached. She seems to make him feel very uncomfortable as he realizes she is more than a patient, she is a woman with emotion. Her isolation, I believe is what pushes her further into the depressed state she reaches. Her days are spent lying in bed with hardly and human contact.
Lastly she finally comes to acceptance. I believe she fully accepts when she tells Susie to not revive her if her heart stops beating. Although Susie seems surprised I think she also feels relieved that Vivian has accepted her condition and isn’t as frightened anymore. It’s a weird sort of peace that is felt in the room with Susie, Vivian and the Popsicles.
Vivian expressed all these stages of death and dying: denial, anger, depression and finally acceptance. I believe her relationships with other characters, specifically Jason Posner, the detached kid doctor and Susie, the sympathetic nurse, affected her arrival to the different stages. Her diagnosis of cancer was a life-altering thing that made her reflect back on her life. Her reflection on life was positive it’s just sad that her knowledge of her coming fate of death was what spurred it.
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