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Awakenings (1990)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  11 January 1991 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 83,670 users   Metascore: 74/100
Reviews: 168 user | 32 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.

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(book) (as Oliver Sacks M.D.) , (screenplay)
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Title: Awakenings (1990)

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Ruth Nelson ...
...
...
Paula
...
Lucy
...
Rose
Barton Heyman ...
Bert
George Martin ...
...
Miriam
...
Sidney
Laura Esterman ...
Lolly
Dexter Gordon ...
Rolando
Jayne Haynes ...
Frances
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Storyline

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 an adult having gone into a catatonic state in his early teens. 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

Taglines:

There is no such thing as a simple miracle.

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 January 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Despertares  »

Box Office

Gross:

$52,096,475 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The lullaby that Leonard's mother sings to him at the hospital is called "Slumber Boat". See more »

Goofs

When Leonard gets the correct dose of medicine and 'awakens', he walks with almost no difficulty. If he had been catatonic for years, and even if he had been exercised regularly, he would not have been able to just get up and walk around so easily. His muscles would have atrophied. His voice would also have been raspy from disuse. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Sayer: You told him I was a kind man. How kind is it to give life, only to take it away?
Eleanor: It's given to and taken away from all of us.
Dr. Sayer: Why does that not comfort me?
Eleanor: Because you are a kind man. Because he's your friend.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #26.82 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

O Soave Fanciulla
from "La Bohème"
Written by Giacomo Puccini
Performed by Mirella Freni and Nicolai Gedda
Orchestra of the Opera House, Rome
Conducted by Thomas Schippers
Courtesy of Angel/EMI, a division of Capitol Records, Inc.
by arrangment with CEMA Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

 
What An Incredible Story!!
20 March 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Here's a good example of how you can still make a great modern-day movie without profanity, violence or sex.

This is an amazing story, based on fact, about about a doctor who makes great progress fighting an illness that heretofore was considered incurable. These were patients in catatonic states, and the good doctor uses an experimental drug to snap these people back to reality and to a normal life as they once had. The patients, and how they react, both before and after the medications, is really fascinating.

Robert De Niro is outstanding as one of the patients, but that's not a surprise knowing all the fine acting performances he's done over the years. Robin Williams, relatively new to dramatic acting when this came out, was also excellent in a very low-key role. Penelope Ann Miller is extremely sweet and appealing. I wish both she and Williams would do more roles like that.

With multiple viewings, I came to appreciate the minor characters in here a lot more, such as De Niro's mother, played by Ruth Nelson, whom I fondly remember in the 1945 film "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn." What a treat is was to see her again and this was just two years before she died. Also, Alice Drummund as the patient known as "Lucy" was notable.

Language-wise, i's almost stunning to watch a movie which has De Niro, Williams, Miller and John Heard and not hear one profane word uttered! (The film isn't perfect, however, as some idiot decided to insert one f-word, and in a totally unnecessary circumstance.)

This is a memorable story and one I guarantee you won't forget because the subject matter is so different.


69 of 82 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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