Thoughts on The English Surgeon

  • Opening – A lot of polished shots
  • Interviews – Seem to be from light topics to dark topics
  • Use of music very manipulative and on cue
  • There are a lot of reenactments used
  • Archive footage used effectively
  • Main characters are interesting
  • Transportation of medical equipment was not explained at the start but brought to light later
  • Intercut between church and surgery room was effectively done, showed the stark divide between faith and science


  • Bicycle riding shot – > English doc moves left to right (makes him look like the protagonist)
  • Igor’s walking through graves shot (followed right after the bicycle shot) is from right to left (making him look like the antagonist)
  • In the later scenes however based on the conversations it seems that the roles of protagonist and antagonist are reversed.


  • Tension ever present (whether or not to operate), tension seems to die down after the successful surgery, lowering the stakes.
  • Archive footage – mostly of Tanya’s failed operation, very emotional
  • Contrast of surgeons and hospitals in London and Ukraine very obvious when put side by side
  • Some B-Roll appears to be taken after the film and not in the moment
  • Telling the Grandmother that her granddaughter is going to die seems exploitive? – Is it a necessary evil in documentaries to showcase the misery of others?
  • English Surgeon’s darker sides – not as optimistic as before
    • Does not shy away from gory details
    • Makes for interesting and compelling film
  • Ending – Reconciliation, I feel it is a nice wrap up although a little too long drawn
  • Ethicality of lying while breaking news to patient
    • A look inside the mind of the surgeon
      • A quick cut to last short with Tanya then back to her, is a final one-two KO punch to audiences
    • The constant going back to Tanya’s family is exploitive but moving


Final Thoughts

  • Overall the film is driven primarily on emotion, the weight of the characters going for surgery and drama is formed with the tension of whether they live or die in the balance
  • There was a main story of the brain surgery, which lost steam after we know about the surgery’s success.
  • The Rhythm of the story seemed linear at first but over time after the arc about the reconciliation with Tanya, the pacing took a nose dive, I felt that portion of the film was still necessary for an epic conclusion but maybe could have been significantly cut down.

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