Rod Langley’s Bethune chronicles the medical and political career of Norman Bethune, a Canadian-born doctor who died a national hero in the Republic of China in 1939. He remains an esteemed figure in China today, for his selfless contributions to the Communist Party of China during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), when he trained rural peasants to serve as army medics and set up much-needed base hospitals that ultimately saved thousands of lives.
In the 1920s, Bethune had contracted tuberculosis while in private practice in Detroit and experienced first-hand the limitations of treatment options at the time – as well as the politics within the medical profession that prevented advances in combatting the disease. By demanding that he receive an unproven new treatment, Bethune overcame the illness, and thereafter dedicated himself to revolutionizing respiratory medicine.
A social visionary as well, upon relocating from Detroit to Montreal, Bethune became an outspoken proponent for a national medical plan, despite the prevailing anti-Communist sentiment in Canada. He remained steadfastly committed to the common good, and joined the Communist Party of Canada in 1935. His political convictions took him to Spain, where he supported anti-fascist resistance during the civil war, and ultimately to China, where he came to embody the “barefoot doctor” movement later upheld by Mao Zedong.
Bethune is a study of how one man’s vision may shape the world.
Cast of 3 women and 6 men.