ⓘ Medicine Man (film)

Medicine Man (film)

ⓘ Medicine Man (film)

Medicine Man is a 1992 American adventure drama film directed by American action director John McTiernan. The film stars Sean Connery and Lorraine Bracco, and features an acclaimed score by veteran composer Jerry Goldsmith.


1. Plot

A pharmaceutical company sends biochemist Dr. Rae Crane Bracco into the Amazonian rainforest to locate researcher Robert Campbell Connery, after his wife and research partner abandon him. Crane is bringing equipment and supplies, but Campbell is upset the research partner is not forthcoming. He tries to send Crane home, but she demurs, as she has been assigned to determine whether Campbells research deserves continued funding.

Campbell has found a "cure for cancer", but attempts to synthesize the compound have failed. With supplies of the successful serum running low, Campbell isolates a derivative of a species of flower from which the formula can be synthesized and with Cranes help is determined to find its source. A logging company is building a road headed straight for the village, threatening to expose the native population to potentially lethal foreign pathogens, has happened before. In fact, Campbells wife left him because he could not forgive himself for the tragedy.

A small boy appears with malignant neoplasms and Campbell, Crane, the boy, and his father set out in search of Campbells predecessor, a medicine man from whom Campbell once acquired his knowledge of flowers. Upon encountering Campbells entourage, the medicine man flees in fear. Though he is reluctant to pursue the man further, Crane convinces him circumstances demand that he must. Campbell rescues Crane from a fall, then locates the medicine man, whom he is compelled to fight in order to heal the medicine mans wounded pride and gain further necessary information. Unfortunately, the medicine man reveals that the flowers have no "juju" - power to heal. Father and son agree to return another time. Back at the village, Crane initially refuses to allow Campbell to inoculate the boy with the last of the serum until more can be synthesized. But when the boys condition worsens, she gives in and the boy is inoculated.

The next morning, the boy is better but the village is in tumult. The logging road is nearly finished. Campbell appeals to the companys workers to halt construction until he can conclude his research, but it refuses. In desperation and after new samples fail to contain the missing compound, Crane runs the chromatograph one more time and accidentally discovers that the source of the cure is not the flower but a species of rare ant indigenous to the rainforest. Campbell demands the construction stop. A fight results and a bulldozer catches fire, destroying the village and the research station along with many acres of rainforest.

The next day, Crane promises to send Campbell new equipment and the research assistant hed originally requested. She is about to return home when she meets the medicine man. He symbolically passes on his mantle to Campbell, and Crane accepts an invitation to continue working with him in exchange for recognition for co-discovering the source of the compound.


2. Production

Tom Schulmans script was purchased for $2.5 million with a further $1 million spent on rewrites by Sally Robinson and Tom Stoppard.

Production started March 4, 1991 in the Mexican jungle near Catemaco and was completed in July. Connery and Bracco both complained of conditions on set.


3. Soundtrack

The music for Medicine Man was composed and conducted by veteran composer Jerry Goldsmith. The score, a blend of orchestra, synthetic elements, and guitar solos, was praised by critics and is considered one of the films strengths. The soundtrack was released February 4, 1994 through Varese Sarabande and features fourteen tracks.

  • "Finger Painting" 2:30
  • "The Fire" 2:10
  • "The Harvest" 3:11
  • "A Meal and a Bath" 8:03
  • "Campbell and the Children" 1:57
  • "Whats Wrong" 1:52
  • "The Injection" 2:09
  • "The Trees" 6:01
  • "Mocara" 3:36
  • "Without a Net" 4:19
  • "Raes Arrival" 5:06
  • "The Sugar" 2:08
  • "First Morning" 3:46
  • "Mountain High" 2:41

4. Release

The film premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on February 5, 1992. It was released in 1.304 theatres on February 7, 1992.

Critical reception

The film was panned by most critics, especially Braccos performance. Medicine Man maintains a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 21 reviews. Lorraine Braccos performance in the film earned her a nomination for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress.

Box office

The film debuted at number 1 at the US box office with $8.5 million. The following week it was knocked out of the top spot by Waynes World. The film eventually grossed $45.5 million domestically, earning Disney $21 million, just half of its budget.

About the films lackluster performance, John McTiernan said: "It was a little art movie with Sean Connery that cost only $27 million. If the press hadnt defined it as an action movie, it probably wouldnt have been considered a disappointment."

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