Cancer (film)

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The Emperor of All Maladies
Blu-ray cover
GenreDocumentary film
Based onThe Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Written byDavid Blistein; Ken Burns; Barak Goodman; Geoffrey Ward
Directed byBarak Goodman
StarringDr. Siddhartha Mukherjee
Narrated byEdward Herrmann
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes3
Producer(s)Ken Burns; Dalton Delan; David Thompson; Pamela Williams
Running time6 h (360 min)
Production company(s)Florentine Films; Laura Ziskin Pictures; WETA Washington, D.C.; Ark Media.
DistributorPublic Broadcasting Service
Original networkPBS
Original release
  • March 30, 2015 (2015-03-30)
External links

Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies is a 2015 American documentary film directed by Barak Goodman and produced by Ken Burns.[1][2][3][4] The film, in three-episodes of two hours each, is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning 2010 book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee,[1] and describes the history of cancer, and cancer treatments, particularly in the United States.

The film is narrated by Edward Herrmann, who was himself suffering from terminal brain cancer at the time of its production. He died on December 31, 2014, three months before the film's release.[5]


No. Episode[6] Original air date
1"Magic Bullets" (to 1970)March 30, 2015 (2015-03-30)[7]
A summary of the history of cancer is presented, including the role of Dr. Sidney Farber and the beginning of the "war on cancer" in the United States.
2"The Blind Men and the Elephant" (1970–2000)March 31, 2015 (2015-03-31)[8]
The basic nature of cancer cells, the role of viral and chemical carcinogens, and a relationship of cancer to genes, are described. Several successful cancer therapies are examined.
3"Finding the Achilles Heel" (2000–2015)April 1, 2015 (2015-04-01)[10]
Further complexities in the history of cancer are revealed and new immunological approaches[9] are considered.


The documentary film is narrated by Edward Herrmann, and includes the following participants:


Reviews and criticism[edit]

According to a review in the Los Angeles Times, the film is "the single most personally relevant documentary of this or any year".[2] According to a review in The New York Times, the series is "absorbing", is "structured as an ever-evolving medical detective story, but the filmmakers give it heart as well by juxtaposing the history lessons with present-day personal profiles of cancer patients", seems perhaps "too much like a promotional video for cancer researchers and hospitals", and "touches only briefly on the significant issue of costs" but "achieves its main goal, which is to show the human impact of cancer."[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Genzlinger, Neil (March 27, 2015). "Review: In 'Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,' Battling an Opportunistic Killer". New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  2. ^ a b McNamara, Mary (March 30, 2015). "Review: PBS' 'Cancer' documentary cuts to the heart of the matter". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  3. ^ Szabo, Liz (March 29, 2015). "Ken Burns tackles history of cancer". USA Today. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  4. ^ Herper, Matthew (March 31, 2015). "What I Hope Everyone Learns From PBS' Big Cancer Documentary". Forbes. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  5. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (January 1, 2015). "'Gilmore Girls' actor Edward Herrmann dies". USA Today. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  6. ^ Staff (2015). "Cancer - Episode Guide". PBS. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  7. ^ Staff (2015). "Cancer - Episode 01". PBS. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  8. ^ Staff (2015). "Cancer - Episode 02". PBS. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  9. ^ Gallagher, James (April 3, 2015). "Health - Personal cancer vaccine research 'exciting' say experts". BBC News. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  10. ^ Staff (2015). "Cancer - Episode 03". PBS. Retrieved March 31, 2015.

External links[edit]