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Philadelphia

September 11, 2015

PA talented lawyer at the peak of his career has just been promoted to senior partner in his firm. Then, suddenly, a glitch in an important case he is handling sends the partners into a panic. They fire him for incompetence. Beckett knows the real reason: they have found out that he has AIDS.

Andrew convinces personal injury attorney Joe Miller to take his case. He intends to bring a suit against his former firm for wrongful termination. Although these two share a love of the law, they are worlds apart in their lifestyles. Andrew has a long-time lover Miguel. Miller is married and admits a bias against homosexuals.

We cannot push death aside and that we can learn from persons with AIDS to live in the moment. The most dramatic scene in the film takes place in Andrew’s apartment when he tries to share with Joe his love of opera. Attached to his I.V. bottle, he dances across the room entranced by an aria sung by Maria Callas. Andrew, fully aware that he is dying, has mastered the art of living fully in the ripeness of the moment while Joe, embarrassed by his client’s emotional swoon, tries to make a quick retreat.

The film also succeeds in conveying the ignorance, prejudice, half-truths, and devastating lies connected with AIDS. As Joe comes to see, this scourge extracts a social death that precedes the physical one.

P 2Andrew Beckett: Do you like opera?

Joe Miller: I’m not that familiar with opera.

Andrew Beckett: This is my favorite aria. This is Maria Callas. This is “Andrea Chenier”, Umberto Giordano. This is Madeleine. She’s saying how during the French Revolution, a mob set fire to her house, and her mother died… saving her. “Look, the place that cradled me is burning.” Can you hear the heartache in her voice? Can you feel it, Joe? In come the strings, and it changes everything. The music fills with a hope, and that’ll change again. Listen… listen…”I bring sorrow to those who love me.” Oh, that single cello! “It was during this sorrow that love came to me.” A voice filled with harmony. It says, “Live still, I am life. Heaven is in your eyes. Is everything around you just the blood and mud? I am divine. I am oblivion. I am the god… that comes down from the heavens, and makes of the Earth a heaven. I am love!… I am love.”

Joe Miller: The Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against otherwise qualified handicapped persons who are able to perform the duties required by their employment. Although the ruling did not address the specific issue of HIV and AIDS discrimination…

Andrew Beckett: Subsequent decisions have held that AIDS is protected as a handicap under law, not only because of the physical limitations it imposes, but because the prejudice surrounding AIDS exacts a social death which precede… which precedes the physical one.

Joe Miller: This is the essence of discrimination: formulating opinions about others not based on their individual merits, but rather on their membership in a group with assumed characteristics.

Joe Miller: We’re standing here in Philadelphia, the, uh, city of brotherly love, the birthplace of freedom, where the, uh, founding fathers authored the Declaration of Independence, and I don’t recall that glorious document saying anything about all straight men are created equal. I believe it says all men are created equal.

Joe Miller: Have you ever felt discriminated against at Wyatt Wheeler?

Anthea Burton: Well, yes.

Joe Miller: In what way?

Anthea Burton: Well, Mr. Wheeler’s secretary, Lydia, said that Mr. Wheeler had a problem with my earrings.

Joe Miller: Really?

Anthea Burton: Apparently Mr. Wheeler felt that they were too…”Ethnic” is the word she used. And she told me that he said that he would like it if I wore something a little less garish, a little smaller, and more “American.”

Joe Miller: What’d you say?

Anthea Burton: I said my earrings are American. They’re African-American.

Sarah Beckett: [to Andrew] Well, I didn’t raise my kids to sit in the back of the bus. You get in there and you fight for your rights, okay?

[Joe Miller is in court and has just asked his witness whether he is a homosexual]

Joe Miller: Are you a homo? Are you a queer? Are you a faggot? Are you a fruit? Are you *gay*, sir?

Judge Garrett: In this courtroom, Mr.Miller, justice is blind to matters of race, creed, color, religion, and sexual orientation.

Joe Miller: With all due respect, your honor, we don’t live in this courtroom, do we?

Andrew Beckett: I appreciate your faith in my abilities.

Charles Wheeler: Faith, Andy, is the belief in something for which we have no evidence. It doesn’t apply to this situation.

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From → Film, Sexuality

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