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The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1987)

Opera singer and professor Dr P is examined both in a clinic and in his home, as he suffers from a degeneration of the occipital lobe that allows him to see details, but not wholes.


(adaptation), (adaptation) | 3 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
John Tighe ...
Pathologist (as Professor John Tighe)
Emile Belcourt ...
The Neurologist [Dr S] (Tenor)
Patricia Hooper ...
Mrs. P (Soprano)
Frederick Westcott ...
Dr. P (Baritone)


Based on an Oliver Sacks case study, Dr P is a baritone opera singer who cannot distinguish his students until they speak. He suffers from visual agnosia, more specifically prosopagnosia, which only allows him to see details that he must cognitively assemble to identify an object. For example, he can describe a rose as a "convoluted red form with a linear green extension," but can only identify it as a rose by smell. Dr S, the neurologist, examines him, first in a clinic, then in his home environment, and deals with Dr P's concerned wife, culminating in a heated argument about whether Dr P's paintings are abstract art or the result of his occipital degeneration. Dr S only learns how Dr and Mrs P cope with the situation, but cannot diagnose the situation. The opera, filmed cinematically on locations and sets and not on a theatrical stage, is intercut, sometimes jarringly, with footage of Oliver Sacks reflecting on his encounters with Dr P, as well as scenes of a pathologist examining ... Written by Scott Andrew Hutchins <scottandrewh@home.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Neurological Opera


Drama | Musical






Release Date:

5 June 1987 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Mies joka luuli vaimoaan hatuksi  »

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Featured in Zomergasten: Episode #10.5 (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

Hooja Mooja!
17 March 2000 | by (Cambridge) – See all my reviews

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat is a tour de force of cinema, a masterpiece in its own right. The performance by Emile Belcourt is brilliant, and he superbly portrays the emotional struggle of a man who has a hat for a wife. The gratuitous nudity by Lorraine Mills (hussy!) is perhaps a bit O.T.T, but at least the hat was good. If the film had a fault, its that is a little confusing at first, but pay attention and it soon becomes clear (like L.A Confidential). This film was underrated and criminally ignored at the box office. Here's hoping for a re-release!

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