Movie Highights Deadly Inheritance

Thank you for letting us into your lives. A Shoreline moviegoer to the directors of “The Inheritance”

Kiwis raising awareness about an incurable disease

By Roger Childs


The Inheritance Judy and BridgetBridget knows that she will probably die from progressive neurodegeneration. Tragically, she has the Huntington’s Disease gene which she inherited through her mother Judy, who herself is close to death. Although dedicated and extensive research is going on around the world, there is currently no known cure for this cruel and deadly condition.

However Bridget and her two brothers are not just waiting for the inevitable; they remain positive, stay in contact with the experts and keep exercising. Furthermore, Bridget and partner Jeff, have made a film to tell the world about, what for centuries, has been a misunderstood affliction, which often resulted in sufferers being put into mental asylums. It is a great film and although harrowing in places, is overall an uplifting experience. Five stars.

Combining the best features of top documentaries

The Inheritance is a very professional movie. It is essentially an odyssey of Bridget’s mother’s brave battle through the increasingly debilitating stages of Huntington’s Disease. However it is also an informative, awareness-raising film which combines the story of how the deadly gene has come through the family with

  • the origins of the disease and the work done by Dr Huntington, an American who wrote the first professional paper on the subject
  • reconstructions of historical events
  • the science of how the disease develops from brain malfunctions
  • the on-going research being carried out around the world
  • comments from scientists and doctors from Sweden to Australia.

The 70-minute film is tightly edited and mixes historical family footage with Judy’s continuing struggle. Clips from the experts on research, treatment and support are interspersed with family interactions and familiar footage of the Paremata home setting.

While there is inevitably sadness and despair in the story, there is also plenty of hope, camaraderie and good humour.  Bridget’s commentary throughout is excellent: sensitive, realistic and amazingly positive.

A Film Festival success

The documentary was well received at the recent New Zealand Film Festival and will shortly be screened in Tasmania and elsewhere in Australia.

Here is how the Film Festival programme summed it up

The Inheritance addressed in this illuminating, personal, and courageous film could hardly be more daunting. Huntington’s Disease is a hereditary neurodegenerative condition that typically manifests in mid-adult life. DNA testing has revealed that Wellington film editor Bridget Lyon is not one of the lucky few who can expect to escape. She and director, husband Jeff McDonald confront the horrors of the disease’s progress most squarely in the deterioration of her mother, who had been a staunch promoter of Huntington’s awareness – in marked contrast to previous generations who shrouded its cruel heritage in shame. Historians have traced the passage of the gene back through generations, as Lyon has been able to do in her own family.

Opportunities to see this worthy film

The Inheritance

The Inheritance is a very watchable and uplifting documentary, which provides insights into a little known disease and the story of an incredibly courageous family confronting its impact.

There are more opportunities to see it locally.

Sunday November 2nd 6:30 at Shoreline: phone bookings – 04 902 8070.

Monday November 3rd 6.30 at Light House Cinema Pauatahanui: bookings – 04 234 6770.

Ticket price $20 – a fundraiser to raise money for Huntington’s Disease Outreach Screenings