The story tells of a young woman admitting to have blackouts, fearing they are getting worse. She is believed to suffer from multiple personalities, as a result of severe abuse at the hands of her mother, whom the psychiatrist, Cornelia B. Wilbur, believes was schizophrenic. The movie Sibyl is based upon author Flora Rheta Schreiberthe's novel and fictionalized version of the life story of Shirley Ardell Mason, an American psychiatric patient, claimed to have suffered multiple personality disorder. The novel Sibyl, was in it's turn based largely on the alleged actual accounts of psychiatric treatment that Shirley Ardell Mason underwent, documented by American psychiatrist Cornelia B. Wilbur. Numerous psychiatrists, both contemporary and more recent, have strongly contested the diagnosis. Written by
Joanne Woodward, who plays the Doctor, starred in another famous film about multiple personalities, The Three Faces of Eve (1957) where she starred as the titular Eve. However, unlike Sybil, she had only a trio of personalities. See more »
Moments after Sybil walks out of Central Park pond where she'd been standing, her feet are dry and shoes leave no wet impressions on sidewalk as she leaves. See more »
Split personality as a metaphor for what we must all do to survive intense pain
This movie isn't actually about the actual case or even the best selling novel. It is a metaphor for childhood and the plight of children (and other human beings). Stunning performance by Sally Fields, quite likely her best (though certainly not her only stunning performance. She is a vastly underrated actress.) Some very fine writing and many memorable lines. I saw this movie over twenty years ago and I will never get it out of my mind, "what that monster did to her in the green kitchen." Joanne Woodward is as fine as silk, as she always is. I could watch her just breathe in and out for the foreseeable future, and she does it wonderfully here, and makes great acting look just that easy. Like the Godfather, this movie completely transcends all the source material it is based on, a serious kind of "mockumentary" revealing rather than mocking the human condition.
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