Totally Under Control Parent Guide
Responses to this documentary will likely be predicated on political affiliation. That's unfortunate because it is a critically important film.
Parent Movie Review
When news footage in April showed coffins being deposited in mass graves in New York City, I sat in horrified disbelief in front of my TV set. How on earth, I wondered, did the richest and most powerful nation on earth come to this?
This is the question behind Totally Under Control. Produced at lightning speed, this is an up-to-the-minute documentary. With content spanning the period from December 2019 to October 1st, 2020, the film was completed a mere 12 days before its release date.
The speed of its release is matched by the ingenuity of its production. The directors of Totally Under Control deserve credit for safely making a film during a pandemic. They took extraordinary measures to virus-proof the process, delivering cameras to some interview subjects so they could film themselves, or dividing rooms with plastic to film other experts. That it works so well is a tribute to their skill, planning, and dedication. There is no loss in quality and that is an achievement on its own.
They have also managed to offer an encyclopedic look at the American response to the novel coronavirus. To do so, the film provides a chronological overview of the virus’s domestic spread alongside interviews with leading experts in the field. It also contrasts the US government’s response with that of South Korea, which experienced its first case of covid-19 on the same day – January 20th, 2020. Since that date, South Korea, with a population of 51 million, has had 24,476 cases of covid-19, and 428 deaths. The US, with a population six and a half times larger, has seen over 7 million cases and 213,000 deaths.
This documentary suggests three primary reasons for the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus across the US. First: the delay in widespread testing that made it impossible to catch, track, and trace early cases, as was done successfully in countries like South Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan, successfully limiting the virus’s spread. Second: failures of medical supply lines, most tragically visible in shortages of PPE (personal protective equipment) for medical personnel. Third: the politicization of public health precautions. Throughout these discussions, a few themes recur, specifically, a rigid bureaucracy, the gross incompetence of too many political appointees, and the toll taken by an ideology that put private profits ahead of public health.
Totally Under Control will certainly be a controversial film and will be lambasted by critics on the right for criticizing the Trump administration (and by critics on the far left for not being critical enough). Whether or not you like the movie will probably depend on your opinion of Donald Trump’s presidency. This is unfortunate. This documentary is not a political screed; it’s a post-mortem cataloging the failures that led to so many unnecessary deaths. Ideally, it will be watched by as many citizens as possible, if only to make sure that these failures don’t recur when the next pandemic emerges, as it surely will.Directed by Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, Suzanne Hillinger. Running time: 123 minutes. Theatrical release October 9, 2020. Updated October 9, 2020
Watch the trailer for Totally Under Control
Totally Under Control
Rating & Content Info
Why is Totally Under Control rated Not Rated? Totally Under Control is rated Not Rated by the MPAA
Violence: A dead body is seen being carried on a forklift. A mass grave is seen.
Sexual Content: There is a brief clip of people in scanty swimwear.
Profanity: There are three scatological curses and two terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Page last updated October 9, 2020
Totally Under Control Parents' Guide
One of the experts interviewed in the film is Rick Bright, an immunologist and vaccine researcher, who was the director of the biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Dr. Bright was demoted after making a whistleblower complaint and later resigned. What do you think of Dr. Bright’s whistleblower complaint? Do you think he did the right thing? Why or why not? Do you think his decisions strengthen or weaken the USA’s pandemic response?
Testing in the United States was delayed by over a month due to flawed test kits. What do you think the government could have done differently to speed the testing process. How do you think that could have altered the trajectory of the coronavirus in the US?
The New York Times: The Lost Month: How a Failure to Test Blinded the U.S. to Covid-19
PPE shortages exacerbated the risks of the pandemic. How do you think this issue could have been handled differently? What should be done now to ensure adequate supplies going forward?
The New Yorker: A Young Kennedy, In Kushnerland, Turned Whistleblower.
From hydroxychloroquine to face masks, potential treatments and mitigation strategies have been politicized in the US to a degree not seen in any other country. Why do you think these issues have become political? What is the cost to Americans? What can you do to depoliticize them in your own community?
Cato Institute: Americans Have Always Politicized Public Health
Intelligencer: The Theory That Explains the Politicization of Coronavirus
The Atlantic: The Social-Distancing Culture War Has Begun
National Review: What the Masks Mean
Some countries have (so far) managed to keep the coronavirus under control. What can we learn from their strategies?
End Coronavirus: Some Are Winning – Some Are Not
Related home video titles:
Contagion tells the story of expert physicians called upon by the CDC to prevent a lethal virus from spreading around the world. A virus starts killing all the women on earth in Only. Another plague kills every woman on earth, leaving a dad and his daughter running to keep her safe in Light of My Life.
Will gene editing help find a solution to the coronavirus epidemic? To learn more about genetic engineering, you can watch the documentary Human Nature.
The Trump administration gets the Michael Moore treatment in his documentary Fahrenheit 11/9.