The Play vs. the HBO Movie | The Measure | The L Magazine - New York City's Local Event and Arts & Culture Guide

May 27, 2014 9:00 PM

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Seeing the show on Broadway in 2011 was gut-wrenching in a way last weekend's perfectly fine made-for-HBO movie was not. And it's for two reasons having to do with the nature of film and the way the medium's used. For starters, the movie, thanks to the immersive nature of cinema, feels like a period piece, stripping the play of its last and maybe hardest-hitting punch: the connection to today, the realization that though the disease now has a name that politicians aren't so afraid to speak and an arsenal of medical treatments doesn't mean that it's cured, or that it's stopped killing, especially when you stop confining your focus to Manhattan and look at the whole wide world. When you left the Broadway production, Larry Kramer himself (or at least one of his people) handed you an open letter that doubled as a fact sheet.

You get similar, though less politically trenchant, information at the end of the HBO movie, but as title cards, it's easier to ignore, to gloss past, than a piece of paper shoved into your hand on W. 45th Street. And it's easier to relegate the AIDS epidemic to the past, to safely distance it, when...

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