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Awakenings (1990)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 11 January 1991 (USA)
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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Writers:

(book) (as Oliver Sacks M.D.), (screenplay)
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2,273 ( 133)

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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:
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Ruth Nelson ...
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Paula
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Lucy
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Rose
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Bert
George Martin ...
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Miriam
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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 »

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Release Date:

11 January 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Despertares  »

Box Office

Gross:

$52,096,475 (USA)
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(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's coat is unbuttoned when he caught up with Nurse Eleonor Costello at the stairs of the hospital, then when he asked her out it is buttoned. When they descended the stairs it is unbuttoned again. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Sayer: His vision, from the constantly passing bars, has grown so weary that it cannot hold anything else. It seems to him there are a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world. As he paces in cramped circles, over and over, the movement of his powerful soft strides is like a ritual dance around a center in which a mighty will stands paralyzed. Only at times, the curtain of the pupils lifts, quietly - . An image enters in, rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles, plunges into the heart and...
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Connections

Referenced in Na plovárne: Na plovárne s Miroslavem Ondríckem (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Sing, Sing, Sing
Written by Louis Prima
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User Reviews

 
A Fascinating and Moving Story
18 February 2005 | by (Atlanta) – See all my reviews

Awakenings is the most emotionally moving film I have ever seen. It delves deeply into one of the worst human fears, losing the ability to move and function, but it's never forced or manipulative, and there's no heavy-handed message or moral. It's just a fascinating story that's beautifully told.

The acting is as good as you will ever see. Robert DeNiro deftly handles all the emotional and physical challenges of his role, and Robin Williams demonstrates convincingly that he is an actor, not just a comedian. Williams is perhaps a bit too nerdy at first, but he captures perfectly all the hope, fear, exhilaration, and anguish that a doctor in that situation must be experiencing. Awakenings is based on actual people and events, and, to me at least, real events are always more powerful than even the best fiction.

Awakenings had big-name talent and Oscar nominations, but I don't think it ever had a big box office or became a popular video rental. That's a shame. I like escapist fare as much as the next guy, but once in a while, everyone should see a movie that you will remember and think about for a very long time. Awakenings deserves to be at the top of your list of movies to see.


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