The 'theatre' cited in the title of The Operating Theatre refers to that of a surgeon; Benoît Rossel's film perceives that environment as a unique world with its own rules, practices and behaviors into which the audience must be inducted. Structured, narratively, around the rise to prominence of a nascent surgeon, the film journeys to Lausanne, Switzerland's training hospital - where the practitioners exhibit cultural idiosyncracies that are unmistakably French - and witnesses, with poetic attention to detail, every striking aspect of a surgeon's career, from the physician's inability to use humor as a way to fend off the inescapability of death, to the hands-on physical work carried out during operations, to the emotional toll of the job. In the process, the film pays homage to the mythos of working as a surgeon and the miraculous, complex nature of the human body.
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