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The Greater Good Review 

Thursday, Oct 13 2011
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 Kendall Nelson and Chris Pilaros’s The Greater Good is a social issue doc exploring the politics behind what it suggests is the over-vaccination of American kids, and the harmful side effects the vaccines can cause. Of the many affecting and effective stories relayed, Gabi Swank's is particularly heartbreaking. A high school sophomore who, as a result of Gardasil shots, went from being a vivacious teenager to having pain and chronic seizures which leave her often unable to go to school or take part in regular activities, Swank's stoicism and positivity are almost unbelievable given the bleakness of her situation. Though there are pro-vaccine interviewees, this film has a clear agenda in encouraging skepticism toward vaccination. Nelson and Pilaro beg for public awareness—something that the drug companies who profit from developing and selling the vaccines are resolutely against. (That most vaccine research is funded by the vaccine manufacturers themselves is, the filmmakers convincingly argue, as effective as a fox minding the chicken coop.) Though the film mixes brief animations with archive footage, it's aesthetically bogged down by the near wall-to-wall talking head interviews. The litany of close-ups on medical experts and vaccine victims, set against a drab background, fail to explore the possibility of the image (and not just the word) in being able to convey information. Nonetheless, the pace of the film remains fairly brisk, in no small part because what’s being said is staggering, especially if you don’t know too much about the science of and politics behind vaccines.

Reach the writer at veronika.ferdman@gmail.com

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