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Awakenings (1990)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  11 January 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 86,948 users   Metascore: 74/100
Reviews: 169 user | 35 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

The victims of an encephalitis epidemic many years ago have been catatonic ever since, but now a new drug offers the prospect of reviving them.



(book) (as Oliver Sacks M.D.) , (screenplay)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ruth Nelson ...
Barton Heyman ...
George Martin ...
Laura Esterman ...
Dexter Gordon ...
Jayne Haynes ...


A new doctor finds himself with a ward full of catatonic patients. He is disturbed by them and the fact that they have been catatonic for decades with no hope of any cure. When he finds a possible chemical cure he gets permission to try it on one of them. When the first patient awakes, he is now well into his 50s having gone into a catatonic state at 20 years of age. The film then delights in the new awareness of the patients and then on the reactions of their relatives to the changes in the newly awakened. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There is no such thing as a simple miracle.


Biography | Drama


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 January 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Despertares  »

Box Office


$52,096,475 (USA)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Final credited acting role of Jan Saint. See more »


Lucy's feet relative to the checkered floor pattern when she walks towards the window. See more »


Lucy: I can't imagine being older than 22. I've no experience at it. I know it's not 1926. I just need it to be.
See more »


References Taxi Driver (1976) See more »


Shanghai Shuffle
Written by Gene Rodemich (as G. Rodemich) and Larry Conley (as L. Conley)
Performed by Fletcher Henderson
Courtesy of MCA Records
See more »

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User Reviews

13 June 1999 | by (North Bay, Ontario) – See all my reviews

Simply put, this is one of the greatest movies ever. This is easily the most powerful tearjerker that I've ever seen, thanks in large part to the brilliant performances by Williams and De Niro. But to be fair, the whole cast was excellent, and they were helped by a script that was nearly perfect. For me, the scenes with Miller proved to be the most emotional, but really, the whole film was heartwarming or heartbreaking on some level. I don't tend to get emotional when watching movies, but this film managed to find a way into my heart, and I can't possibly recommend this movie enough to those of you who haven't been lucky enough to see it yet.

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