BIOETHICAL MOVIES RECOMMENDED BY STUDENTS
(List from previous year)

Acceptable Risk raises bioethical issues on medical research. In the movie, the main character is a scientist that finds 300-year-old spores in his basement. He is disgruntled because he lost the patent on his Parkinson's disease treatment because his manager waited too long to go public with the treatment. Therefore, the scientist decides to begin testing on this mold without proper approval from the lab. The spores increase brain activity, IQ levels, and testosterone levels in healthy humans. The subjects of the study begin to have blackouts, hallucinations, and an increase in violent behavior. The bioethical issue presented is definitely one of the ends justifying the means. The development of a new treatment for brain disorders does not justify the fact that the subjects are negatively affected, especially because they harm others and even kill some. The scientist was acting unethically by putting his life, as well as others in danger for the sake of his own advancement. Kirsten Drake

Alien. (Actually all of the Alien movies.) I have chosen this movie because, it discusses the idea of adding a new creature to the earth that could and would be used as a type of bio-weapon. And the people in the movie are against the idea but big business always wins out in the end. Daniel R. Zentner

And The Band Played On. This movie labeled what is now AIDS as a "gay disease" and even though we know so much more now, that stigma is still a large part of the disease. Not only that, treatment was compromised for many for fear of being connected to the disease. The fact that Reagan did not even acknowledge the disease publicly until 25,000 deaths had occurred still amazes me. Jennifer Mow

Artificial Intelligence A.I. This movie was directed by Steven Spielberg. It is based on a company that makes robots identical to humans known as mecca's. Which right away brings up a bioethical issue of man playing god, and creating something of the same image as his own. The movie starts off with a discussion of whether or not to create a robot (mecca) who could love. Which raised the bioethical question of whether or not man holds any responsibility to love a machine in return for the love that it has given him. The answer to the rest of the question is played through out the movie. A family purchases a robot that could love and look like any human, in replace for their child that is in a coma. The rest of the movie plays with each persons feelings, and obligations towards the new mecca. Colleen Mulcahy

Autumn in New York. This movie stars Richard Gere and Winona Rider. Will (Gere), a wealthy restaurateur whose passion for food doesn't come close to his passion for women, falls in love with Charlotte (Rider), the daughter of one of Gere's crossed lover's (now deceased). Although many years his junior, Charlotte is dying of a rapid-growing neuroblastoma near her heart. Initially the couple agrees to a more casual affair, but as their relationship deepens, Will cannot bare the thought of losing the women who has brought meaning to his previously empty life. Against her advanced directives to forgo any "heroic" lifesaving measures, Will tracks down a surgeon willing to do the job and convinces his sick lover to tear up her directives. (I won't give away the ending.) The movie raises questions about telling the truth, monogamy, age differences in adult, heterosexual relationships, and about respecting a person's right to personal choice for their health care at the end of life. Susan Wooten

Awakening With Robin Williams and Robert DeNero. This movie raises the bioethical issue of the morality of bringing someone back from the state of sleep. The persons in this movie were in a state similar to Parkinson's disease. When given a drug (L-Dopa) these patients came to life, only to loose it later in the film. The Dr. gave the drug in large amounts. He didn't seem to care about how much he was giving to the individual. The Dr. seemed to give false hope to the families of the afflicted. This is against the code of the MD. Cyrus Vania

A Beautiful Mind. This movie raises many bioethical issues, the most prominent of which is whether or not a sick person should be able to make a choice about his or her own treatment. In the movie, Russell Crowe portrays a man with schizophrenia that decides he can think himself through his illness. The people in his environment decide to support his decision. The major question that this brings up is whether or not he is actually capable of comprehending what he is deciding. On one hand, the viewers see him going through unimaginable physical torture as he receives medicine in the hospital, but on the other hand, he almost drowns his own baby and even comes close to physically abusing his wife because of his delusions. Although this particular movie has one outcome, the issue of patient rights, even in a delusional state, is one issue that will cause many moral arguments. Lindsay Black

The Beguiled (Clint Eastwood) An off-beat Civil War tale, Clint Eastwood is a union soldier who is seriously wounded while fighting in the south. A young girl finds him and brings him back to their house. Although he is the enemy, there is serious debate on whether or not to treat him or let him die. Ultimately, (and for some who have reasons maybe other than ethics), they feel that it is unjustifiable to let him die or to turn him over to the troops. They feel the ethical thing to do is to treat his wounds regardless of what side he is on. This would parallel decisions which would actually be faced during times of war. Chris Watts

Bicentennial Man. This movie is about a robot, named Andrew, (played by Robin Williams) who is purchased by the Martin family to perform simple house tasks. However, Andrew soon begins to experience emotions and creative thoughts. The Martin family soon begins to treat Andrew as a human, even though he is technically a robot. Andrew is unaffected by time (he can't age) and watches the generations of the Martin family pass by. Andrew decides that he wants to be more human, and eventually he wants to be declared human. The question is: Can a robot that is part human (Andrew undergoes surgeries and procedures and soon has human organs, tissue, everything except a human brain) be declared a human? Andrew even undergoes a process in which he begins to age - and will eventually die. His argument is that humans sometimes have prosthetic limbs and nonhuman parts but are not considered robots. This movie makes you wonder, with technology increasing, will we have to answer this question ourselves in the future? Kyle Bitney

The Cider House Rules. This film deals with the varying situations involved with abortion. A young pseudo-doctor finds that his values regarding abortion come into conflict with those of his mentor at the orphanage where he lives. The young man sets off to find his own life away from the orphanage and soon finds that he cannot hide from the issue of abortion. He realizes that there are certain situations where abortion may be allowable. In the end he performs an abortion on a young woman who had been impregnated by her father. This film leaves you questioning your own values regarding abortion. Aubrey Smartt

Contact. At the end of the movie, the bureaucracy covers the real truth, which is that the transportation of heroine did actually happen. The length of the videotape that they obtains was almost equal to the length of what the heroine experienced in the transportation device. The movie raises the question of national security concealing the truth. The is that is it right or wrong to conceal this information to the world. Seishiro Hokazono.

Dead Man Walking. A disturbing and compelling film about capital punishment, Dead Man Walking addresses a controversial subject by giving pain and personality to both sides of the issue. It is not just about capital punishment but about revenge and redemption, fear and salvation, & crime and punishment. Matthew Poncelet, a convicted rapist/murderer on death row, is an arrogant, trash-talking racist, but deep down is lonely and frightened. Sister Helen Prejean, (Susan Sarandon) his spiritual advisor, faces moral and spiritual crises concerning Matthew: How can she lend comfort to someone like Matthew Poncelet? How can she, as a servant of God, refuse? And, if she remains firm in her resolve to stand by his side, how can she face the parents of the murdered boy and girl? There are no easy answers. She is exposed to everyone's pain: Matthew's, his family's, and that of the victims' relatives. It's almost more than one woman can bear, but Helen is strong -- strong enough to offer love to one of the most detestable human beings she has ever met. Ultimately, the questions come back to capital punishment. Is Matthew going to be executed because he was too poor to hire a fat-cat lawyer? Is there a moral difference when the State kills as opposed to an individual? Should justice be based on the "eye for an eye" edict or the one that says to "turn the other cheek"? Christine Tester

Don't say a Word In this movie, the psychiatrist, Dr. Conrad, uses the patient, Elizabeth, as a means for his end not her own. He needs her to give him a six digit number so he can get his daughter back from some kidnappers. In the end, he gets the number to get his daughter back while also helping Elizabeth deal with her issues of seeing her father die. Lisa Iverson

Full Metal Jacket This movie examines U.S. military life from boot camp to war, during the Vietnam Conflict from a soldier’s perspective. The main character goes from boot camp to becoming a Marine reporter observing and participating in the Vietnam War. This reporter, named “Joker”, experiences a variety of moral issues from those existing in boot camp to those found in a real war. These moral issues, such a killing, and the desire to kill change Joker’s perspectives as he experiences the war. Chris Greil

Gattica. Set in the future, this film revolves around the central issue of genetically engineering human beings. In the movie, the very structure of society is based on the genetic superiority of an individual. The "haves" occupy top executive positions in established firms, while the "have nots" or "invalids" are destined for less admirable careers. The film illustrates that genetic inferiority is synonymous with an inferior lifestyle. As a whole, society ignores these so-called "invalids" and continually strives for genetic perfection. Gattica clearly addresses a multitude of bioethical implications surrounding this issue of genetically altering DNA. The film also raises questions regarding the extent to which genes control an individual's outlook on "being human." Annie Crater

Hollow Man. In this movie scientists find a way to make humans invisible. They inject the "magic potion" into one of them without anyone's knowledge. The man that becomes invisible doesn't seem to have very many morals. He sneaks into others' homes, watches them, and even raped one of them. In the end he kills most everyone to keep them from making him visible again. This movie makes you wonder what the ethical issues are related to persons becoming invisible and doing as they please. Jennifer Wagner

If These Walls Could Talk This movie deals with the bioethical issue of abortion and it explores the different situations of three women who have to deal with abortions in one way or another. The first woman is widowed and finds out that she has become pregnant and she has to weight the pros and cons of getting an abortion or raising the child alone. The second woman is married but has five children already and the family is stretching to make ends meet as it is. The parents in this situation have to weigh the pros and cons of having an abortion or raising another child in the hard times that they are in. The last situation is from the perspective of a doctor working in an abortion clinic and having to deal with a mother who wants an abortion while there are angry “pro-life” picketers outside. This movie does a wonderful job exploring all the sides and options of abortion and it makes you think of what you would do if you were put in each of these situations. Kailie Smith

The Island of Dr. Moreau. Here's the story, in a nutshell: Edward Douglas (David Thewlis) is a UN agent who survives a plane crash. He's rescued by Montgomery (Val Kilmer) on a ship with a cargo of wild animals (and bunnies), and they're dropped off on the titular island. Montgomery tells Douglas not to leave the compound "for safety reasons." Douglas learns that Dr. Moreau is a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist who left the world of science 17 years prior to pursue his own experiments. Montgomery, a brilliant neurosurgeon, has been working with Moreau for 10 years. Eventually Douglas discovers the secret of the island-how Moreau's been conducting genetic experiments, trying to create a perfect race of man by hyper-evolving jungle animals. Eventually it all comes crashing down. The main reason the experiment fails is because the poor creatures suffer from a severe identity crisis. Are they animals or men? Thing is, Moreau uses shock therapy to control his subjects' animal instincts. Though his ideals are pure, such is not the case with Montgomery. Assigned to give out the injections that keep the creatures from "retrogressing," he spikes them with narcotics "to keep them coming back." It's a fascinating story which raises a series of questions about what makes us human. Is it the ability to suppress violent urges? The mental pain of guilt?. It also raises the question about the morality of what both Dr. Moreau and Montgomery are doing. Debbie Kelley

John Q. I saw only the preview for this movie, but it deals with futile treatment from the insurance company's point of view, and maybe even extraordinary vs. ordinary treatment. According to Yahoo's summary, " After collapsing on the baseball field, a young boy is rushed to the hospital where it's discovered that he needs a heart transplant. When the hospital learns that his down-on-his-luck father's insurance won't cover the operation, he's promptly taken off the donor list. As a result, the boys' father takes over the hospital's emergency room until the doctors agree to operate. Lindy Benningfield.

Jurassic Park. This film includes the issue of bioethics. Genetic engineering can be used for both good and evil. The movie exemplifies a major dilemma frequently faced today; that is, If we have the ability to do something, does that mean we should go ahead and use that ability? Does capability equal justifiability? In addition, the judgment of these scientists is clouded by the possibility and excitement of "playing God" and they failed to consider the consequences. We presently face this dilemma with all of our advances in science. With the the completion of the human genome project and cloning ability this same vital decision is faced. With the exciting advances in science hopefully "possibility" will not force us to oversee consequences and result in detrimental effects, as in this movie. Janelle Bennett

Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy. While much of it is the bizarre and occasionally disgusting humor that is typical of the Canadian sketch comedy group, the core of the movie revolves around the capitalistic competition of prescription drug companies to find the new "miracle" drug and the consequences of that on an eager American public. When a scientist rushes a new anti-depression drug (without properly testing it first) to the shelf to satisfy his company's need to get back on top of the drug market he becomes an instant celebrity and a "depressed" America goes berserk.Like I say, the comedy is out there and every now and then is a little gross, but the major theme is very bioethical. Kelly Ronningen

Lorenzo's Oil The movie is about a young boy who is diagnosed with a disease that destroys the myelin around neurons in the brain. The disease was discovered ten years before the movie was made, so was not researched very well. The movie shows how hard a patient/doctor relationship can be. The struggles are seen mostly through the parents eyes, but even so I could completely understand both sides of the story. Rachel Vania

Mission Impossible II. This movie is an example of using biotechnology as a weapon. While attempting to find a cure for a disease, a doctor accidentally makes a monster virus. The bad guys got a hold of the virus and injected people with it so that they would pay huge amounts of money for the cure. Terrorists also got control of the virus and threatened to use it as well to make a huge profit. The exploitation of biotechnology for money is unethical and uses people as a means to an end. Marilee Simons

Moulin Rouge. Starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, this movie raises the issue of telling the patient she is dying for fear that she will not continue to live her life in the same manner. (Something like therapeutic privilege). Kidman's character, Satine, is dying of TB and her doctor does not tell her that she is dying at the wishes of her employer. Satine's employer makes a lot of money off of her and figures she will quit her job if she knew she did not have long to live. The doctor disregarded Satine's rights to know about her own health because of her employer's recommendation. Kamey Kapp

Multiplicity. Starring Michael Keaton and Andy MacDowell, is a fantasy/comedy concerning the controversial and ethical issue of cloning. Taking a comedic approach to the issue, Doug (Keaton) clones himself in an effort to control his chaotic life. A working man struggling to fulfill his numerous responsibilities, Doug meets a geneticist who offers a solution to his problem by giving him a chance to become the ultimate split personality by having himself cloned. Autumn Engellant

The Nutty Professor. While a comedy, does have underlying bioethical issues. Should a person be able to genetically alter their DNA in order make themselves into a different person? I think not. Who we are is who we are. We have to deal with what God gave us. I don't think it is ethical to play God in order to make ourselves into who we want to be instead of leaving ourselves as who we really are. Jesse Sherratt

One True Thing. This movie is about a family who finds out that the mother is diagnosed with Cancer. The movie depicts the struggle of each individual in dealing with the fact that death of a loved one is inevitable. It is at the end of the movie where the bioethical issue is portrayed. By the end of the movie the mother in in the end stage of her cancer battle and is in a lot of pain and wants to end her life. She asks both her husband and daughter to help her die peacefully. The mother is able to accomplish her goal and dies by a medication overdose. There is an investigation into her death and we learn that both husband and daughter give her a pill overdose so she had a "double dose" of medicine overdose. The end of the movie left you pondering the ethical implication of their decision. Anne Petesch

The Other Sister The Other sister is about a girl, Carla, who is mentally handicapped. Carla was sent to a specialized institute growing up and has recently returned home as a grown teenager. Carla decides she wants to be independent and live on her own. Her parents on the other hand are against the idea. They treat Carla like she was a child,not as adult and they are very protective over her. The other siblings in the family convince the parents to let Carla live on her own and experience life for herself. She falls in love with a man who is also mentally handicapped. Together they set out to experience all of life's adventures and to prove that Carla has earned her independence. The issue in this movie is how much control parents should have over their mentally handicapped children and when should the they be able to live an independent life of their own Jenn Waliser

Outbreak. This movie presents us with the somewhat disturbing thought of an infectious disease, capable of killing entire cities within a week, coming to America and getting completely out of control. A virus, first discovered in an African tribal community, somehow gets out 25 years or so later, with the resulting possibility of mass infection. Rather than trying to bring the disease under control, the military surrounds the town and won't let anyone out. In fact, people who attempt to leave are killed. The military wants to simply destroy the town to in attempt to cover something up. In this case the military was definitely going for the ultimate good and they were only going for what they think is good even when it came to their own country, which they are supposed to protect. The idea of placing your own good over the ultimate good is exemplified when one of the scientists tears his protective suit but doesn't tell anyone. In doing so he puts himself at risk of infection and by not telling anyone else endangers his colleagues and in the long run, if everyone were to get infected, the chances of finding an antidote. This is not being mindful of what the true good in this situation is. It was interesting how some of the readings from class were directly related to some of the situations in the movie. Over all this movie was very good, definitely able to grab the morbid imagination. At times it was a little far fetched but it dealt with ethical questions such as, is it right to kill an entire town, even if there is a possibility of recovery, merely to save a lethal virus for later use as a biological weapon? If you haven't seen it already I would recommend it. Melissa Stupfel

Patch Adams. This film, which is based on a true story, raises the question whether doctors should remain emotionally unattached to their patients or interact with them as they would any other human being. The medical institute which Patch was attending argued that in order to ensure that patients had absolute confidence in their doctor the doctor must appear almost above “normal” human beings who of course are acknowledged to be fallible. Patch argued that interacting with patients as human beings is actually healthier and far more beneficial to the patients in the long run. The issue is still being debated to some extent but more and more institutes are leaning towards Patch’s argument. Kate Krebsbach

The Replicant. In this suspenseful movie, Jean Claude Van Dame plays a serial killer whom the FBI is trying to track down. The investigators get Van Dame’s DNA from a crime scene and produce a clone of him. They figured the clone could lead them to Van Dame’s whereabouts. Besides the brutal treatment of the clone, the ethical issue lies in the fact that they produced the clone and their intentions were to only find the serial killer and then dispose of the clone. This idea to produce the clone lacked in ethical evaluation and moral reasoning. Randi Swoboda

Riding in Cars with Boys. Starring Drew Barrymore. Raises bioethical issues surrounding reproduction. In the film Drew Barrymore becomes pregnant at age fifteen. The movie proceeds to show how her life slowly spirals out of control due to keeping the child and raising it with her husband, who she married in account of the baby. It is a prime example of children raising children and how it can ruin the parent's dreams and aspirations. It as well exemplifies why birth control methods should be introduced into the lives of teens who are sexually active. Julianna Duchesneau

Sweet November. A movie about a woman who had cancer and was dying. She fell in love with this man, Keanu Reeves, who became her November. She would find men and have them stay with her for a month because it wasn't too long or too short for anything to happen. She is battling cancer and she doesn't want anyone to know. She has no contact with her family because they want her to have treatment, but she doesn't want to live that way. When Keanu Reeves character finds out how sick she is, she decides that it has to be over because he wants to find her the best treatment, but she doesn't want treatment. She wants to be able to live life her own way, not the way others want her to live it. B.J. Colby

Swordfish with John Travolta. The bioethical issue raised here is utilitarian in nature--the greatest good for the greatest number of people. In the movie, Travolta's character (I can't remember his name) sees nothing wrong with holding hostages, tying explosives and large metal balls to them, and shooting them point blank when the purpose behind all of this is to raise money to fight terrorists around the world. I know that this isn't a typical bioethical issue, but it involves people's lives and it involves ethics. Pat Thorsen

Twins. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito has to do with bioethical issues. It is about doctors that clone the perfect human (Arnold) but somehow a twin is also made out of the left over, imperfect genes (Devito). This movie looks at the issue of whether we as humans should have the ability to create life. Sarah Carrigan

Wit. This movie is about a woman who uses her wit as a defense mechanism during her battle with ovarian cancer. The main bioethical issues seen in this movie deal with paternalism vs. autonomy. The doctor's see this woman as a research project, and very persuasively "tell" her what to do. Although she does consent to the harsh experimental treatment, she does so with hopes of recovering. She later finds out that the doctor's knew all along that she would not survive the cancer, but they wanted to see if a person could
survive all 8 full-dose treatments of chemotherapy. In the end, she decides to have a DNR code, even though the doctor's want to keep her alive as long as possible for their research. It was a very good movie, it brought up a lot of biomedical issues. Nicole Smith