Bringing Out The Dead

"Any call can be murder, any stop can be suicide, any night can be the last. And you thought your job was hell?"

Brining Out The Dead is interesting on so many levels. First it depicts what New York's Chelsea/Clinton (Hell's Kitchen) sections were like in the early 1990s'; streets packed with prostitutes at night, rampant drug dealing and countless homeless people - and the neighborhood people who struggled to stake a claim to their community.

Secondly the film fuses the talents of author Joe Connelly, director Martin Scorsese and an amazing cast; Nicolas Cage, Patricia Arquette, John Goodman, Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore and a good performance by singer Marc Anthony.

Lastly, the film uses the literary device called magical realism to help us understand what plagues the mind of EMS worker Frank Pierce.

You should also know the film is based on a book written by Joe Connelly who worked as a EMS technician in New York City. His book is based largely on his own experiences.


Please answer the following questions in your journals;

  1. Have you ever given much thought to why city workers do the jobs they do? What motivates sanitation workers, fire fighters, police or sewer workers to do what they do?
  2. As a New Yorker, does Brining Out The Dead appeal to you in any special way? Do the film's characters seem or feel familiar to you? Explain why.
  3. Do you have any empathy for Frank Pierce? What feelings do you have for him and his troubles?
  4. Explain how magical realism was used in the film?
  5. Does the film's use of magical realism distracting or does help the film's story?
  6. If you had to describe the film to a friend, what would you say?
  7. How did you feel after watching this film?

Internet Move Database (

Review for the Bringing Out The Dead (

Magical Realism: History and Theory (

History of New York City's Emergency Medical Service (

Back to top