Extraordinary Measures, a movie directed by Tom Vaughan and produced by Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher & Carla Santos, is a story based on the true life of a portland couple, John and Aileen Crowley (played by Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell, respectively), who desperately struggles to find a cure for two of their kids suffering from the rare genetic disorder called "Pompe disease."
Just as mentioned, Pompe disease, also called Glycogen storage disease type II, is a rare genetic disorder that affects the muscles and nerve cells in the body. This condition is caused by the accumulation of a complex sugar called glycogen in the lysosome (a membrane-bound cell organelle in the body responsible for digestion and waste removal). The build-up of this sugar is caused by the deficiency of the lysosomal acid alpha-glucosidase (GAA) enzyme and can result in cardiorespiratory failure (Mccall et al, 2019) as well as in the malfunctioning of some vital organs in the body (U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2020).
In this article, we will be focusing on the Extraordinary Measures film analysis. We will be also discussing its role in educating the general public on the Pompe disease, as well as the experiences of families or people living with the disease.
Extraordinary Measures is based on a true-life story. It details the struggle of a desperate father, John Crowley, and his wife Aileen Crowley, to save two of his three children, who are suffering from the rare, incurable inherited condition, the Pompe disease. A disease that typically ends the life of most before they reach the age of 10.
John Crowley, an advertising executive, curiously inquiries into the disease his children, Megan (Meredith Droeger) and Patrick (Diego Velazquez), who are already using wheelchairs and life support systems, are suffering from and how he can possibly save them from their imminent death. In his inquiry and desperate search for a miracle, John gets through to a researcher in the University of Nebraska, Robert Stonehill (played by Harrison Ford), who has carried out innovative research on an isolated enzyme treatment that can be used to arrest the continuous development of the rare disease.
John was able to convince Robert to help him by impulsively promising to fund his research as well as the clinical trials required for testing the treatment. After this, John immediately sets up a foundation to raise money for this cause. He soon abandons his job to establish a company and take on the full responsibility of saving the lives of his two children, Megan and Patrick. This is then followed by the invitation of some capitalists to invest and, ultimately, the resistance of Robert to sell out to a Seattle-based biotechnology company (Scott, 2010).
The movie ended in more conflicts and in John losing his job. However, John's efforts to save his children led to a medical breakthrough, as the film ends with Megan and Patrick laughing in their hospital beds, an indication that the enzyme developed by the professor, Robert Stonehill, is indeed working.
The pure desperation of John Crowley, his conflict with Robert, as well as with his wife, Aileen, are the central themes that make up the 2010 movie. In the next section of this article, we shall be focusing on them. We shall be primarily examining some of the important events and their significance in Extraordinary Measures film analysis.
Extraordinary Measures, an adaptation of Geeta Anand's book, The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million—and Bucked the Medical Establishment—in a Quest to Save His Children, is not only a movie, it is als0 an educative drama that accurately informs viewers of the Pompe disease, the life of people living with the disorder, as well as the life of those around them.
Let's look at some of the major events in the movie as well as their general significance to the message it tries to pass on to its viewers.
Megan's Health Scare
This happened at the start of the movie when the Crowleys had to rush Megan to the hospital after a terrible health scare.
This event in the movie shows to the viewers the patient-physician relationship and how professionally some doctors always seem to act with their patients. It also shows the hopelessness of even the practitioners we all pin our hopes on in serious situations. Doctors, who should be a source of hope and encouragement, are even those without any iota of faith in their professional capability to save lives.
John's Inquiry and Desperacy
John's desperation revolves around the movie. It includes a collection of events that ultimately affect John, causing him to lose his job in the end. His desperation forces him to take extraordinary measures to find his children a cure. This led him to set up a foundation, quit his job to establish a firm for the same purpose, invite investors, and ultimately sell the company out to a biotech firm (Stevens, 2010).
Even when the cure was eventually developed and John's children couldn't get it, because they were not children anymore, we could still see this desperacy in John. He breaks into the firm to steal the drug and also losses his job along the line. However, this desperation eventually paid off. At the end, his children were eventually able to get the cure, and this was as a result of all the extraordinary measures he took to make it happen.
John's conflicts with his wife and with Robert Stonehill
John's conflicts with his wife and also with Stonehill are also two major events that should be examined.
John's conflicts with his wife shows the struggle parents go through with having to take care of their sick children. It also gives us a picture of how, through these conflicts, parents always seem to unite easily to take care of their children. John's conflict with Stonehill before the sale of the company and with the drug also links us to John's desperation as a father to save his children (Scott, 2010).
Mccall, L. A., Salemi, J., Bhanap, P., Strickland, M. L. & Elmallah, M. K. (2018). The impact of Pompe disease on smooth muscle: a review. Journal of Smooth Muscle Research. 54. pp. 100-118. doi: https://doi.org/10.1540/jsmr.54.100
Scott, A. O. (2010). Desperate Father’s Plea to a Detached Scientist. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/movies/22extraordinary.html
Stevens, D. (2010). If I Don’t Write a Good Business Plan, My Child Will Die. Retrieved from https://slate.com/culture/2010/01/extraordinary-measures-reviewed.html
U.S. National Library of Medicine (2020). Pompe disease. Retrieved from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/pompe-disease
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