174 user 37 critic

Awakenings (1990)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 11 January 1991 (USA)
2:43 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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)
2,940 ( 327)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Patch Adams (1998)
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The true story of a heroic man, Hunter Patch Adams, determined to become a medical doctor because he enjoys helping people. He ventured where no doctor had ventured before, using humour and pathos.

Director: Tom Shadyac
Stars: Robin Williams, Daniel London, Monica Potter
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An unorthodox and irreverent DJ begins to shake up things when he is assigned to the U.S. Armed Services Radio station in Vietnam.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Tung Thanh Tran
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

English teacher John Keating inspires his students to look at poetry with a different perspective of authentic knowledge and feelings.

Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke
Drama | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

After he dies in a car crash, a man searches heaven and hell for his beloved wife.

Director: Vincent Ward
Stars: Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Annabella Sciorra
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A former radio DJ, suicidally despondent because of a terrible mistake he made, finds redemption in helping a deranged homeless man who was an unwitting victim of that mistake.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Adam Bryant
Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

An android endeavors to become human as he gradually acquires emotions.

Director: Chris Columbus
Stars: Robin Williams, Embeth Davidtz, Sam Neill
Men of Honor (2000)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The story of Carl Brashear, the first African American, then also the first amputee, US Navy Diver and the man who trained him.

Director: George Tillman Jr.
Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., Robert De Niro, Charlize Theron
Cape Fear (1991)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A convicted rapist, released from prison after serving a fourteen-year sentence, stalks the family of the lawyer who originally defended him.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Nick Nolte, Jessica Lange
Analyze This (1999)
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A comedy about a psychiatrist whose number one-patient is an insecure mob boss.

Director: Harold Ramis
Stars: Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal, Lisa Kudrow
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop Al Capone; because of rampant corruption, he assembles a small, hand-picked team.

Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A prep school student needing money agrees to "babysit" a blind man, but the job is not at all what he anticipated.

Director: Martin Brest
Stars: Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, James Rebhorn
My Left Foot (1989)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Christy Brown, born with cerebral palsy, learns to paint and write with his only controllable limb - his left foot.

Director: Jim Sheridan
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker, Alison Whelan


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


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


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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Dr. Malcolm Sayer, is a fictionalized version of Dr. Oliver Sacks, who both wrote a book and made a documentary film on the effects of L-Dopa on his patients. In this movie, Sayer eventually overcomes his shyness and accepts a date with Eleanor; in his 2015 autobiography On the Move, Dr. Sacks says that (like his fictional counterpart) he was very shy when he was younger, but he was (and is) also gay. See more »


At one point Dr. Sayers describes L-DOPA as synthetic dopamine. It is in fact a precursor to dopamine, i.e. a substance used by the body to synthesize dopamine. See more »


Nurse Beth: Dr. Sayer
Dr. Sayer: What is it?
Nurse Beth: It's a fucking miracle
See more »


Purple Haze
Written & Performed by Jimi Hendrix
Courtesy of Elber B.V.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Extraordinary Film
17 December 1999 | by (North Carolina, USA) – See all my reviews

This is a stunningly beautiful and profoundly moving journey, and, amazingly, based on a true story. I never tire of watching this movie; it was one of my all-time favorites. DeNiro's performance totally blows me away every time. And Robin Williams is wonderful as Dr. Sayer. Even simply remembering the movie by reading others' reviews here is once again giving me chills and putting tears into my eyes. After seeing this movie I also became a huge fan of Dr. Oliver Sacks' writing and recommend it to anyone, especially those who enjoyed "Awakenings." His case studies are fascinating. An excellent movie. Do yourself a huge favour and see it.

119 of 131 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The scene that just broke my heart... ssweet6
extremely underrated zzazzah
Vin Diesel techiebelle
Ben Stiller dsheatley
Randy Newman's music peter.gwen1
Why Actor instead of Supporting Actor? TommyFilmProductions
Discuss Awakenings (1990) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: