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  • Writer's picturePerrin Faerch

Review: 76 Days (2020)

2020 was filled with films and TV shows that allowed us to escape the confines of lockdowns and other restrictions all thanks to the elephant in the room, COVID-19. We need to do our best to not be entirely consumed by the anxieties and uncertainties a pandemic brings us, and sometimes we have to tackle those anxieties and fears head on. 76 Days is a documentary that will almost certainly serve as a historical document for current and future generations in seeing how people deal with something of this magnitude, and as we live through it, we need to see what is currently happening instead of hiding under the covers, refusing to accept the extent of how bad it really is.

Filmed over the course of the first 76 Days of the lockdown in Wuhan, China, this documentary puts us in the trenches at four hospitals in the city battling the virus. Following patients and the incredibly brave healthcare workers and volunteers, we get a first-hand account of the sheer magnitude and horror COVID-19 is unleashing upon the world.

We rarely see the faces of the healthcare workers, only the names, slogans and art scrawled on their hazmat suits. This doesn’t detract from the sheer super human force coming from these individuals, and even though we never see the emotional reactions on their faces, we hear it in their voices and through their heroic actions in trying to keep things together. An emotionally charged healthcare worker finds herself pushing doors back against scared and angry crowds of people waiting to get in, screaming and begging for them to be patient. This really puts it into perspective how thankless and underappreciated their jobs really are. Thankfully, as the film goes on, we see the endless gratefulness of every patient, with some not wanting to leave despite being cleared of the virus.

There are a few patients we check in on regularly, from an elderly man with dementia just wanting to escape and let death take him, to a couple waiting to welcome their new-born baby to the world as they quarantine post-birth. These raw and intimate moments are captured with an objective eye, witnessing the reality, pain and anxiety this has brought on so many people. And again, this brings us back to the sheer super human abilities of the healthcare workers. Their unconditional love for their patients and colleagues is indescribable, only through their actions do we get to see this, with moments of heartbreak and pure joy exhibiting this to towering effect - A tearful head nurse returning items back to a deceased patient’s family, a healthcare worker being consoled by her colleagues as she begs to see her deceased father’s body, nurses looking after a new-born baby, saying farewell to patients finally discharged, etc. These moments just add to the growing appreciation that these patients and we, the audience, feel towards them. They’re special and deserve every shred of our respect, support and love.

Documentaries give us a chance to step out of our world and step into the shoes of real people who are experiencing real things. 76 Days is a documentary that throws you in the thick of it from the first moments, it’s absolutely terrifying, but it is entirely necessary in understanding the sheer extent of what we are going through right now. 76 Days is history - an unflinching, all too real document on the impact of a global pandemic unlike anything we have seen before. But most importantly, it’s a vital document on the human spirit and the necessity of us all working together for the greater good.

It’s mostly been doom and gloom over the past year, and throughout the course of the film, the painful tragedy, despair and often hopeless nature of it all begins to give way to some hope. Things can begin to go back to normal and with love, compassion and responsibility to your fellow man, this can and will happen. 76 Days is not only the most terrifying film of 2020, it is also the most important one. Each on set crew member deserves high plaudits for being in the thick of it all and capturing these extraordinary moments and images. Wear your masks properly, people. We love you, stay safe.

You can rent or purchase 76 Days digitally on iTunes.

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