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A howl of desperation

for those who cannot howl

(recensie Chicago Sun Times van

Voices from the Shadows)








Scott Jordan Harris (filmrecensent/patiŽnt) schreef voor de Chicago Sun Times een recensie over de indringende dokumentaire Voices form the Shadows (voor meer informatie: klik hier)



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A howl of desperation for those who cannot howl


Uploaded by Roger Ebert on February 10, 2012 3:38 PM


Scott Jordan Harris in the UK



There is a shot in "Voices from the Shadows" that shows a man in his twenties lying forlornly in bed. Like the rest of the documentary, it exists to illustrate the miserable effects of the illness Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or ME, which is often unhelpfully called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.




Of the patients profiled in "Voices from the Shadows," two stand out. One is Sophia Mirza and the other is Lynn Gilderdale. Lynn's agony was incessant: her ME tortured her with an intensity that shocked me. Before I knew her, Lynn's body had been damaged by doctors who thought she was at worst lazy and at best mentally ill. She never recovered, and her life worsened day on day. In early December 2008, a friend told me that Lynn was dead, and that her mother had been arrested for murder. Lynn's illness had become insurmountable and, one night, she attempted to overdose on morphine but didn't have the strength or co-ordination to do it. Walking in on her, Lynn's mother - in a supreme act of maternal love - assisted with the overdose. An autopsy revealed tat Lynn's spine was severely diseased. Her illness had been purely physical.




Exercise only worsens the symptoms of ME, and it worsened the symptoms of Sophia's so obviously that a judge eventually ruled that a secure mental hospital was no longer a helpful environment for her. She was allowed to return home - where, soon after she died. Sophia Mirza was bullied to death by medical professionals who ought to have helped her; no criminal charges have been brought against them. An autopsy revealed that Sophia's spine was severely diseased. Her illness had been purely physical.




I can't be impartial about this film, and I can't conclude my review of it - if this is a review of it - with the customary, balanced summation of why you should, or should not, try to see it. But I can, with total sincerity, say this: if I could make everyone in the world see just one film, this would be the film I'd choose. It's my film of the year. It'll be my film of the decade.