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St Columba’s College VCE Religious Education -

Texts in Society - Unit 2

‘The Truth of the Matter’ Unit 1

‘The Constant Gardener’

Film Study
(Directed by Fernando Meirelles - based on novel by John LeCarre)
‘Digging the dirt’ on a global issue.

Before viewing the film, it is vital to understand the background and context
to experimental drug trials conducted by large, Western wealthy drug
companies on the vulnerable, poverty stricken millions in the Third World and
other unethical research practices.

The following is a thinking / discussion guide for viewing and understanding

the film.
As you watch, you may like to jot down notes for these questions, as the
themes, issues and injustices revealed in the film are complex, far-reaching
and highly topical for the 21st Century. Use at your discretion.
Justin Quayle – Ralph Fiennes - British High Commission diplomat in Nairobi
Tessa Quayle – Rachel Weisz
Sandy Woodrow - Danny Huston
Arnold Bluhm – Hubert Kounde health worker
Arthur Hammond - Richard McCabe – Tessa’s cousin and solicitor
Gita – friend, colleague and confidente of Justin and Tessa
Sir Bernard Pellegrin - Bill Nighy – senior British High Commission
Wanza Kilulu – victim of experimentation by ‘Three Bees’
Kioko – Wanza’s brother
Dr Lorbeer - Pete Postlethwaite – doctor who worked for ‘Three Bees’

Discussion / Thinking Questions

Scene 1 - ‘Killed it seems.’

1. Can you explain Justin’s reaction to Tessa’s death?
Shocked and confused. He didn't know anything like this would happen to his
Shocked, cant believe that a women can just be murdered so easily and

Scene 2 - London – News Conference

2. ‘Diplomacy is the map and the marker of civilisation – pointing the way
through a country fraught with peril.’ What is diplomacy? What does this
quote mean?
A group that negotiates between other groups, states and countries.. The
quote means that diplomacy is what finds civilisation, so without it the world
everywhere mess.

3. What is it that Tessa is grilling Justin about in the News Conference? Why?
sending men to iraq and what britain is doking to iraq is wrong. She thinks it
is just starting wars so we can benefit from it. "....get more petrol.." being
noticed by the white house is more important than innocent humans lives.
St Columba’s College VCE Religious Education -
Texts in Society - Unit 2

4. What are your impressions of Tessa?

Outgoing, not afriad to speak her mind in front of everyone. She knows what
she's talking about and can support every argument she makes.

Tessa : I feel safe with you…

Justin: I can imagine when you were 6 – leading the revolution..

5. Why can Justin imagine this about Tessa? What is her motive for ‘feeling
safe’ with him?
he can imagine this because she is opinionated and strong. She wants to go
to africa with him for she has this idea that she needs to investigate more.

Scene 3 - Identification of Tessa’s body

Scene 4 - Africa Bound / Justin is ‘trapped’

6. Why does Tessa ask Justin if she can go to Africa?
How does she reassure him that he can rely on her? Explain her strategy.
Because she wants to investigate further into the injustice of afrinca. She
doesnt tell him this, she says that he can learn her more and be together.

7. What is Justin’s reaction to this? Why?

Justin is surprised because he isnt quite sure why she wants to be with him
when they only just met. yet he can't say no for no reason so he agrees.

8. Reflect on the significance of his gardening to the overall plot so far.

You need to plants things for anything to happen. A lot happens under the
surface that no one knows and weeds can grow and destroy plants just like in
society. You also need to nurchure it, or it will die.

Scene 5 – Nairobi - AIDS awareness performance

9. Describe Tessa’s connection with the community?
she is quite close to them because she is also close to arnold. Unlike justin
she spends her time in the community helping arnold with medication and

10. Describe the conditions in the shantytown.

poor, rubbish everywhere, you can just imagine the smell. The animals are
roaming around like people and it is packed, hardly any space.

11. Why are people refusing to be tested for AIDS?

They are refusing to be tested because they don’t want to believe they have
aids. They also might not want to take the medicine because they don’t know
if it actually works, they might not want to know if they have aids. Saves the
embarrassment to their families.

12. What emerged as the bigger issues at this stage of the film?
The government clinic doesn’t have any medicine that the woman needs…
“Nevirapine. The government clinic didn't have any again.” Many people
St Columba’s College VCE Religious Education -
Texts in Society - Unit 2

being diagnosed with HIV

Scene 6 – Suspicion

13. After watching this scene, why do you believe Tessa married Justin?
So she could spend time with Arnold… who apparently she is having an affair
with, according to the e-mail… (Does Justin know what you were doing with
Arnold at the Hilton?)

Scene 7 – ‘Stay out of Kibera!’

14. What is meant by this warning?

Kibera isn’t a safe place in Africa. Wouldn’t be healthy for a pregnant women.
Extremely poor place, with lack of services.

Justin seizes the opportunity to become the representative for Aid

It is revealed that Dr Nugabo, working for ‘Three Bees’, the obsecenely
wealthy, highly successful drug company is offering free ‘AIDs’ drugs for

Scene 8 - Subplot – Sandy and Tessa?

Scene 9 – ‘No drug company does something for nothing!’

Testing for TB (Tuberculosis is being conducted for free).

15. What do you believe is the truth behind this ‘testing’?

It is just a trail, they are being used as guinea pigs for this drug that they only
just created… it could kill.

Scene 10 – ‘Wanza Kilulu’

Sandy visits Tessa and Justin who mourn their lost son – while she feeds the
baby of a 15 year old dying mother - Wanza Kilulu.

16. What does risk by doing this?

She is getting real milk that is making the baby alive, but once the baby is
sent away with the brother it will only have powdered milk or no milk at all,
and has a slim chance of surviving.

Kioko, Wanza’s brother has made a 40 km journey to collect his dead sister’s

16. What are the deeper issues revealed here?

That there are no services anywhere but the well known cities. Places away
from Nairobi have no medical services what so ever. Extremely poor and
slum towns, means heaps of unknown deaths.

17. Tessa is convinced that Wanza Kilulu was murdered and tries to get
Sandy on the case.
St Columba’s College VCE Religious Education -
Texts in Society - Unit 2

What does she mean? What favour does she ask of Sandy?
She asks sandy to do something about the evidence she will find and give to
him about Wanza being murdered. She is trying to say that they killed her
with medicine just because she was already dying.

18. What stance does Sandy represent in the whole case?

He knows about it, so he is very objective, trying to tell Tessa and Justin that
she is tired and crazy. He is just trying to keep his job and keep the whole
thing a secret.

‘Justin doesn’t know what I know.’

Scene 11 – ‘We can’t involve ourselves in their lives, Tessa.’ ‘These

are 3 people we can help!’

19. Why do they not drive the family home? What are the bigger concerns for
both the Quayles and Kioko if he were to accept their help?
If they drove them home, then what about all the other people in Africa who
need help, Justin states they he just wants to keep Tessa safe after she has
lost her baby. If they helped Kioko then he might become dependant on
them, and Tessa might become attached to his family.

‘It’s a marriage of convenience and all its going to produce is dead offspring.’

20. Explain Tessa’s outrage at the use of his garden pesticide.

She has been doing research and knows about the three bees company and
thinks that the pesticide killed her baby because Justin was around it so much
and so was she.

21. How is this significant to the whole picture?

Three bees is the same company who make the dypraxa in which is the drug
to help aids, but its just killing people like it killed her baby.

22. Why does Tessa continue her investigation into Wanza’s murder?
What are the risks involved?
She has made a link and found some evidence between her death and the
drug. The risks are that she is now fighting with the people her husbands
works with and they need to stop her before their company gets ruined.

Scene 12 – ‘If you stop me from doing my work, then I am nothing.’

23. Why won’t Tessa speak of her work with Justin?

Tessa knows that he will stop her, be worried and/or get angry with her, and
she cant have a distraction, she just needs to focus on her research to get to
the bottom of it.
St Columba’s College VCE Religious Education -
Texts in Society - Unit 2

Scene 13 – Sandy’s warning ‘Keeping an eye’ on Tessa

24. What do you think was in her report?

Evidence about Dypraxa being a death drug, that they are testing on people
with HIV because they are going to die anyway so it doesn’t matter and
doesn’t count as murder.

25. Why does Sandy warn her by saying ‘This is something you should not
He is in love with her and doesn’t want her to get hurt, because he knows
that what she is doing is going to wreck the company and she will get hurt.

26. How does Tessa manipulate Sandy?

She knows that he is in love with her and so she says that he can have her if
he lets her read the response to her report.

‘We should buy your drugs at 5, 10, 20 times the price…’

Scene 14 – Hunted down / ID of her body

Scene 15 – Justin’s Search / Dypraxa

27. The police have rifled through Tessa’s personal effects. Why?
They needed information about Tessa and the research she was doing
because Pellegrin most likely payed the police to find something. The police
are very persuasive within Africa when it comes to money and deals.

28. What is Dypraxa? Why is Sandy rummaging through her personal things?
Dypraxa is a drug that is being tested for HIV and tuberculosis. Sandy needs
to find the letter than he sent her about being in love and also the report that
Pellegrin sent sandy that he let Tessa read because she offered herself to

Scene 16 – The Funeral

29. Kioko has walked all the way to offer a ‘sympathy card’ - a much more
sinister message is revealed. What is the link?
The paper that he writes on is the package of Dypraxa with has the three
bees symbol on it, Justin then links that with the pesticide and finally believes

30. Gita also reveals something important regarding Arnold.

What does this reveal about the values of this society?
Justin was so involved with finding the relationship between Arnold and Tessa
and the media and company were making it very clear that they were lovers,
when Gita says that Arnold is gay.

Scene 17 – Taking up ‘the mission’

31. Justin visits Hospital Records – what is he looking for and why?
Wanza’s medical records so that he can see research the Dypraxa like Tessa
was before she was murdered.
St Columba’s College VCE Religious Education -
Texts in Society - Unit 2

Scene 18 - Kioko in Kibera

32. Why are people queuing? What is the truth of this ‘vaccination’?
People were queuing to receive the medication- Dypraxa. This medication is
being distributed as a cure for HIV but instead it is killing them for it is a trial.

33. Why are the police now watching Justin? Who has ordered his
Pellegrin has ordered this interrogation because he knows that Justin is on to
something and needs him gone like his wife.

Scene 19 – Justin meets Gita

34. What was revealed in this meeting?

That If you hear from Justin you need to tell Sandy because he needs to be
removed from the whole Dypraxa situation so it doesn’t wreck the company.

Scene 20 – On the Golf Course

35. Justin meets Kenny Curtis on the Golf Course – what is revealed? What
are the injustices unearthed?
Tessa gave Kenny a report and he denies it when Justin asks him about it
because he wants nothing to do with the whole situation.

Scene 21 – Bernard Pellegrin – London High Commission

‘Some very nasty things in foreign gardens – stay out of it.’

36. Justin is screened and restricted in several ways on his entry into Britain –
how and why?
They take his passport so that he cannot travel again, but they say that there
have been identity thefts with diplomats.

37. What letters are found? How could they use them?
Two letters were found. One about Sandy’s love for Tessa and another about
Sandy being told to keep and eye on Tessa. Both could be used as evidence
towards Tessa’s death.

Scene 22 – Ham Motley and Guido (the wonder kid)– Tessa’s first

‘KDH made Dypraxa – 3 Bees tested it’

(KDH responsible for TB medication)

38. Guido and his genius help Justin in his search for more information. What
is revealed?
Lots of video interviews from organisations about, the drug to cure aids and
sheets of information, also private videos and memories.
St Columba’s College VCE Religious Education -
Texts in Society - Unit 2

Scene 23 – All is revealed – The Tessa video

‘I need this creep to blackmail Her Majesty’s Government – he’s a

means to an end.’

39. What is your reaction to this?

He is shocked because he thought that they were in love but turns out he
was in lover with her and she was just using him to get what she wanted.

Scene 24 – Justin’s New Mission

He travels to Banhopf, Germany to meet Tessa’s contact.

40. What is unearthed about the patients involved in the trials?

As soon as they die they are taken to the middle of no where and all of a
sudden they never existed.

41. What is unearthed about the trials themselves?

They are using people as guinea pigs to test this drug, when they know it
kills. ‘But its ok because they are dying anyway’

‘Fix the trials – exclude the patients who have side effects.’

Scene 25 – Hotel Room

Scene 26 – Arnold’s body found – tortured

Scene 27 – Justin back in Kenya / Truth about Loki

He confronts Sandy in the garden.

42. Why did Pellegrin suppress Tessa’s report? What was at stake?
Because she wanted to test to stop but there were fifteen hundred jobs at
stake and KDH owed three bees.

43. Recount what is revealed about Tessa’s whereabouts and murder.

Sandy was told to keep and eye on Tessa and he told Pellegrin her
whereabouts in Loki and from then on he hired men who hired men who
killed her.

Scene 28 - ‘They want you silenced.”

Kenny Curtis issues a warning to Justin.

44. What was the cause of death of the 62 people buried in the grave?
Dypraxa, as soon as they died they were brought here and then they never
officially existed.

Scene 29 – Reminiscences / Tim Donohue

45. Tim reveals the plan of Tessa’s death. What does he offer to do?
Corporate murder, sandy didn’t know they would hurt her. Boss finds out
then calls someone who calls someone who calls someone who gets a couple
St Columba’s College VCE Religious Education -
Texts in Society - Unit 2

of men in a blue pickup truck to do the dirty deed. So no one would ever
know who ordered the hit.

Scene 30 – Southern Sudan – Dr Lorbeer

‘Disposable drugs for disposable patients.’

46. What does Dr Lorbeer reveal to Justin?

They get disposable drugs for disposable people. 16 pages of inspired
guestwork, Dr Lorbeer was talking about how Dypraxa kills people on tape, in
which Tessa had a copy of.

Scene 31 – Raid / Saving Abuk

47. What happens here? Why? The cost? The future outlook?
The tribesmen come to steal the cattle and children so they can raise them to
be tribesmen to. They also kill anyone who gets in their way so its very
dangerous for everyone. Justin wants to save abuk but can’t because if they
plane takes Abuk then they have to take everyone else. It’s fairness to

48. What part did Lorbeer play in Tessa and Arnold’s death? Why?
He told the security man of KDH where they were on their way to because
makanga would have put it to the U.N

Scene 32 – At the lake

Scene 33 – The Truth of the Matter

49. Note the irony in Pellegrine’s eulogy.

He is talking about how he lost two dear friends and they were both so
courageous and had hearts of gold, but in the end he arranged to kill them

50. What does read and expose?

Guido read the letter that Justin sent him before he went to Loki, where he
died. It revealed everything about Dypraxa and the events in which Pellegrin
was involved in, stating that he arranged the murders because Justin couldn’t
have taken him life with 8 bullets from a gun in which wasn’t his. It also talks
about and about sending Sandy a letter to keep and eye on Tessa.

Scene 34 – Justin’s Final Hour

8 bullet holes….