Since early 2020, the world has been a different place due to the Coronavirus outbreak across the globe. And one of the people who stood out during this pandemic was Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a world-renowned infectious disease specialist and the longest-serving public health leader in Washington, D.C. He has overseen the U.S. response to 40 years’ worth of outbreaks, including HIV/AIDS, SARS and Ebola.
This documentary takes a look at his life, from his childhood, through his career, to cover two fundamental aspects of his career in greater detail, how he helped respond to the HIV/AIDS situation and with the Coronavirus pandemic.
When this documentary was announced to be coming to Disney+, I didn’t really think much about it; being British, I only heard of Dr Fauci last year, when he went viral all over the internet during President Trump’s Covid press conferences. It was only when I then saw the reaction within the comments section of this documentary, did I realise how divisive this Disney+ Original would be. I even asked a few of my American members of our team for some background on why Dr Fauci was getting so much negative attention. This negative attention is one of the significant parts of this documentary. He has to have secret service protection because of the number of death threats against him and his family. It’s pretty shocking to see people responding so severely to a scientist giving his advice.
We get to see how he got started in the world of medicine and how he rose through the scientific community. Including some awful stories of what happened early in the 1980s when AIDS was first discovered, you can really see how much that impacted Dr Fauci. His work in trying to work with activists, bringing them into the conversation with scientists, to try to help the situation. There are many parallels to the Covid Pandemic, in how there was mass panic and some harsh home truths to be confronted, especially as there were so many myths and false information being spread about both health issues.
Because Dr Fauci has made so many public appearances over his long career, there is lots of footage of him talking about various subjects, which really help give this documentary some extra insight. I found this documentary to be very informative for someone like myself, who hadn’t heard of Dr Fauci until last year. However, as with all documentaries, especially about a single individual, it can be a little one-sided. But ultimately, he is just a scientist, who gives the facts as he has them, he doesn’t sugar coat them, and as more data is revealed, those facts change. On many occasions throughout the documentary, he talks about how information changes over time, and he can only advise on what he has in front of him.
Personally, I would have liked the documentary to have leaned further in on what was going on in 2020. It does go into some of the issues that Dr Fauci had with the White House and President Trump. The documentary shows this issue, with footage of them together, with Dr Fauci warning them that vaccines could take years and public health was more important than reopening the economy. We even get some footage of Dr Fauci contradicting President Trump during a press conference. Which was fascinating to watch, and we get to see the aftereffects of that, with a montage of memes, protest footage and much more.
It’s so strange to see how people reacted to his advice, with him becoming an instant phenomenon with bobbleheads being made of him and being called the “sexist man alive”. We hear from his family about how crazy the whole situation was, and even Dr Fauci dismisses all of it. Looking at it from outside the US, it seems evident that Dr Fauci became the person many people looked to for advice, because they didn’t trust the White House’s approach to dealing with the pandemic. Instantly, turning the entire situation political. There is even footage of President George Bush talking about how Dr Fauci will give you the facts, regardless of if you want to hear them or not. He’s been providing advice to the government throughout many situations and many administrations.
Over the past two years, we’ve all gone through something we never thought possible, and while this film documents some of the significant events of that time, it still feels too soon for this documentary to be released. Dr Fauci is a polarising person, because he doesn’t hold back on presenting information that people can find hard to hear or don’t want to hear. I personally found this documentary to be enlightening to the man’s career and showcase how National Geographic can provide Disney+ with some thought-provoking content. This isn’t going to be a documentary for everyone. At over 90 minutes long, it’s not the easiest film to watch. I watched it in two halves, because I did find my attention drifting off halfway through.
I’d have also liked a little more information about his life before the pandemic. It’s certainly interesting seeing the home footage of him with his children, plus him being so open about how he worked so hard, that he missed important milestones with his children, which is always hard to hear. Now, in his 80s, he’s still working hard to provide the best information to people, which is both fantastic and sad at the same time. He deserved to enjoy a retirement. Still, he is highly driven to provide the public with the information they need.
Overall, “Fauci” is an interesting documentary about someone who would never have become a global phenomenon had the pandemic not happened in normal circumstances. He’s led a long and interesting career, which I’m glad I know much more about now I’ve seen the film. I wouldn’t necessarily say I enjoyed the documentary, but it’s educational. Honesty, had this been released on Discovery+ or Netflix, I wouldn’t have watched it. It’s not for everyone. But if you want to learn more about him, give this a whirl, because it might just give you a better idea of who he is, which is ultimately a straight-talking scientist, that will tell anyone the facts, regardless if they agree with them or not.
Rating – 3 out of 5
“Fauci” is available to stream on Disney+ now.