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Children of a Lesser God (1986)

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A new speech teacher at a school for the deaf falls in love with the janitor, a deaf woman speechless by choice.



(stage play), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mrs. Norman
Allison Gompf ...
John F. Cleary ...
Philip Holmes ...
Georgia Ann Cline ...
William D. Byrd ...
Frank Carter Jr. ...
John Limnidis ...
Mary Lee Ochs
John Basinger ...
Alan Jones
Barry Magnani ...
Tom Schuyler


James is a new speech teacher at a school for the deaf. He falls for Sarah, a pupil who decided to stay on at the school rather than venture into the big bad world. She shuns him at first, refusing to read his lips and only using signs. Will her feelings change over time? Written by Colin Tinto <cst@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Love has a language all of its own. See more »


Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




Release Date:

31 October 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Te amaré en silencio  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,909,084, 5 October 1986, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Debut theatrical feature film directed by Randa Haines. See more »


Multiple cars had the license tag "3952" -- a blue Ford and a brown Pontiac. See more »


[first lines]
Dr. Curtis Franklin: This is the most amazing résumé I've ever seen.
James Leeds: I've been with some really good schools. The best.
Dr. Curtis Franklin: All of them. All of the best. One right after another. You've also been with the Lucky Erin Bar and Grill.
James Leeds: Pittsburgh. Bartender.
Dr. Curtis Franklin: And a disc jockey.
James Leeds: Yeah, that was in Oklahoma. I used to broadcast in sign language.
Dr. Curtis Franklin: You've covered all the map, Mr. Leeds.
James Leeds: I've got a lot of energy.
Dr. Curtis Franklin: I'm sure you do have a lot of energy and a lot of new ideas. I did too when...
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Spoofed in Children of a Laughing God (1999) See more »


You Brought a New Kind of Love to Me
by Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal & Pierre Norman
See more »

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User Reviews

What Movies Were Meant To Be
15 January 2003 | by See all my reviews

This is one my favorite movies of all time. The quality of the acting leaves me breathless. The scene where Sarah is dancing slowly to a song by the Staples Singers says so much - the tempo is fast and most people were disco dancing or "stepping" to "I'll Take You There." Sarah feels the real underlying slow beat of the music and responds to that. It was a very moving scene.

Piper Laurie as her mother was phenomenol. Her expressions and body language said so much more than her words. You could tell she really loved Sarah and was frustrated that she didn't really understand her. She also had a little bit of the "bury your head in the sand" approach to Sarah's deafness.

Sarah was determined to have the world accept her on HER own terms and simply turned her back on it when it did not. Sarah was intelligent, beautiful and fun. She couldn't understand why people seemed to define and categorize her by her deafness. She was so much more than that and William Hurt's (I don't remember his name in the movie) character was sensitive enough to recognize that. His character was a little condescending and pushy, and I can see where he would get on any girl's nerves because he was not a good listener. He wanted Sarah to be the person he though she should be and justified it under his guise of "helping" her to cope in a hearing world. She was smart enough to figure him out and reject his attempt to mold her.

You could feel Sarah's loneliness in her silent world and you knew that she wanted love, friends and happiness just like the rest of us, but didn't know if she would ever get them.

I really loved the character and the whole movie. It gave us a brief glimpse into a deaf person's world through some extraordinary scenes: Sarah swimming and describing to William Hurt exactly how she imagined waves sounded, and getting it right; Marian Lesser communicating only in sign language at the party which gave William Hurt's character a chance to see things from another perspective. I think he learned that there is more than one standard way to live and enjoy life and being unable to hear isn't the worst thing that could happen to a person.

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