This film is part of Free

Your Doctors Today

A man breaks down in tears while undergoing psychoanalysis in a powerful scene from this survey of the groundbreaking changes in medicine since the end of World War II.

Documentary 1947 18 mins


This March of Time film is packed with images of the revolutionary changes that were transforming the world of medicine in the postwar years, in Britain and the USA. By 1947 the advent of new drugs and technology had put American doctors at the frontier of medical research and practice. With its footage of dialysis machines, radiotherapy treatment, gleaming laboratories and busy group practices, the film successfully evokes the newfound confidence of a profession entering the modern era.

Despite problems caused by a lack of funding and a shortage of doctors due to war losses, the tone of this film is upbeat, evoking the confident intellectual climate of the times. Footage from the Roffey Park Rehabilitation Centre in Sussex, which was set up in 1943 to treat people in industry suffering from depression, shows evidence of the institution’s holistic approach to treatment and a sensitive understanding of its patients’ needs, which was revolutionary in its day. The use of the psychoanalytic couch - now a cliche, but then a comparative novelty - is demonstrated in the film’s final powerful sequence, in which a middle-aged man recalls a traumatic childhood event.