If you would have asked the average joe thirty years ago to name a scientist, you’d likely be greeted with a blank stare. Despite a lack of name recognition for much of his career, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been flirting in and out of the background for the better part of five decades. Yet now, after his rise to media prominence during the COVID crisis, Fauci has become a household name. John Hoffman and Janet Tobias’ Fauci finally gives the icon a platform to step into the limelight and share his life story.
We follow Tony Fauci from his humble childhood into adulthood, as he’s drafted into helping the National Institute of Health (NIH) during the Vietnam War. But while we do get the typical documentary backstory on Tony, Fauci really covers the similarities in the U.S. responses to the AIDS and COVID pandemics, which bookend Fauci’s career. Much like the man himself, Hoffman and Tobas take their time in the spotlight to raise awareness and create an informed populous for when the next pandemic occurs.
Instead of following a traditional, linear narrative, Fauci alternates between the developments of AIDS and COVID, using societal fears surrounding pandemics as the structure thay guides the film. Fear, anger, divisiveness, confusion. These are the usual suspects that drive a populous into chaos, whether that be with COVID, the AIDS epidemic, or any other major societal issue.
Fauci acknowledges general human emotions during signs of distress while using the scientific figure as a model for how we can persevere: Empathy, clarity, cooperation, determination. While this documentary shows the humanity of Anthony Fauci, it also demonstrates why so many look up to the doctor. He’s given us the blueprint for unity and bravery. All we have to do is build it and they (viruses) won’t come.
The Silver Lining
As mentioned above, one of the most successful elements of Fauci is how it alternates between footage of the AIDS crisis and the COVID pandemic to demonstrate the common societal responses to viral outbreaks. The styling is only successful though because of the immensely talented editors Brian Chamberlain and Amy Foote. The duo were able to stitch together a framework with wildly different video formats (the faded 80s news footage and modern 4K imagery) that not only made sense, but heightened the thematic elements of Fauci immensely.
Specifically, in the opening credits, Chamberlain and Foote used a split screen showing Fauci heading to his office while news anchors from the past and present comment of the doctor’s credibility. The near identical display of Tony’s commute to his lauded position demonstrates that while the world has changed dramatically over the last half a century, Fauci has remained steadfast and consistent through it all.
Fauci is available to stream on Disney+ starting today, October 6th.