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Review: The Inheritance Documentary

‘The Inheritance’ is a documentary which follows Bridget Lyon and her family through their journey with Huntington’s disease. We trace their family line from an insane asylum in Aberdeenshire to the shores of Wellington. This journey, which takes us forward hundreds of years, brings us to Bridget’s mother, Judy, who is living through the final phase of the disease. This isn’t a story of acceptance or overcoming, it’s a story about love and family and how you fight to keep them in the face of a disease like Huntington’s.

Bridget touches on the myriad facets of the disease, from stress to science, she tells you the story of Huntington’s. What makes this documentary so impactful is Bridget’s ability to provide you with all this abstract background information about Huntington’s and then show you the reality of the disease. The information takes hold because we can see what it has meant for her mother.

It is a very effective way of providing an anchor for information. The viewer is informed and prepared before being confronted by the clips of Judy, which makes it much easier to accept what we’re seeing and empathise with it. By the end of the documentary you feel as though you know these people, as though you can understand their struggle, their frustration, and their unstable relationship with hope.

As a society we are used to trying to cheer people up, putting on a brave face and reassuring people that everything will be okay. Huntington’s has made the Lyon family immune to that sentiment. Bridget shows us old videos of her mother, taking us through the years until a woman who was once highly verbal and active and engaged with life becomes an immobile woman whose few words are cruel. She teaches the viewer about the reality of Huntington’s the same way she learned, she shows us how the disease stole her mother. So when a prominent Huntington’s researcher encourages her to not give up on hope it is easy to understand the resistance in her response. She is willing to fight this disease, but she knows that she will lose.

This documentary does a fantastic job of showing the raw determination of Bridget and her family, but it also makes sure that the viewer understands the inevitability that they’re facing. She is afraid, for her parents, her children, her siblings, and herself but there is nothing to be done so she keeps fighting. That balance of determination and fear, that is what makes this documentary so effective. When you’re ready, go and see it.


More information about ‘The Inheritance’ can be found here:


About the Author

Blaise is a science writer for the Brain Health Research Centre at the University of Otago, and a certified member of the Australasian Medical Writers Association. She has studied psychology and neuroscience, and her aim is to raise awareness for neurological and psychological illnesses. Blaise is driven by a desire to make scientific information accessible and understandable to both the general public and to those impacted by these illnesses.