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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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 8 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

1969. Dr. Malcolm Sayer is hired as a clinical physician at a psychiatric hospital in the Bronx, despite he only having a research background. The job is not ideal on his side as he has difficulties relating to people which is the reason he has focused on research projects not involving human subjects, while the hospital hires him somewhat out of desperation in not finding anyone else with the qualifications who wants the job. Most of his patients are in a semi-catatonic state and are housed in what some of the orderlies coin the "garden" ward, where all they can do for the patients is water and feed them. He notices that some of the patients, despite their generally catatonic state, respond in unusual ways to certain stimuli. In doing some research, he also finds that some common bonds between these patients are that they suffered from encephalitis in the 1920s or 1930s, and that their physical states are like they have Parkinson's disease frozen in time. As such, he is able to ... Written by Huggo

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At one point a film Steven Spielberg considered directing, before passing it on to Penny Marshall. The time he spent on the project did yield one useful outcome for him: Steven Zaillian's script took several short chapters, each about different patients, and put them together into a linear whole. This brought Zaillian to Spielberg's attention, and he offered Zaillian the similar task of adapting Schindler's List (1993), which ended up winning Oscars for both of them. See more »

Goofs

Dr Sayer puts on a record saying "This is one of the most beautiful arias ever written...". The record is clearly an LP (you can even see "Long Playing" on the label) but it starts turning at 78rpm - and the music is heard at normal speed. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Malcolm Sayer: She borrows the will of the ball.
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Soundtracks

Time of the Season
Written by Rod Argent
Performed by The Zombies
Courtesy of Marquis Enterprises Ltd.
by arrangment with Celebrity Licensing Inc.
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User Reviews

 
BRAVO
19 July 2000 | by (usa) – See all my reviews

This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. It tore my heart out more than once and I cried a bucket of tears. I watched it 3 times in a row the first time I rented it. I recommended to others and everyone loved it. I have never admired Robin Williams more in a role. He was fabulous. Robert DeNiro, absolutely blew me away. I love him in all of his roles, but this was superb acting at it's very best. Ruth Nelson as the mother played a heart-wrenching role. Penelope Ann Miller was so sweet. When Leonard's mother walked into his room and he first spoke to her, I actually sobbed. It was beautiful. The saddest part was that this movie was true and Leonard and all of the other patients are in the same condition now that they were then. I only wish that I knew what ever became of all of them. If this story would have been fiction, I would not have enjoyed it half as much. Only true life can be this sad.


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