Year: 1978

Production: MGM

Director: Michael Crichton

Starring: Genevieve Bujold, Michael Douglas, Rip Torn, Richard Widmark

Screenwriter: Michael Crichton

Based on Coma (1977) by Robin Cook

113 minutes; Color

Crichton's most commercially successful film, Coma is a present-day thriller with one sf element: the use of hospital patients, deliberately put into irreversible coma by using poisoned anaesthetic, as living repositories of body parts which are profitably sold for use in transplant surgery - a scheme, it has been alleged, that by the 1980s had real-life counterparts. Bujold is good as the resourceful young woman doctor - the film was praised at the time by the Women's Movement - who uncovers the plot in this stylish but wholly implausible paranoid melodrama. Crude but effective visual symbolism equates medicine with the meat trade, which cannot have pleased those of Dr Crichton's old colleagues still in practice.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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