7.9/10
114
7 user

Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien (1996)

| Documentary, Short
Portrait of writer Mark O'Brien, who contracted polio as a child and spent much of his life in an iron lung.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $1.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Misconception I (2014)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

The complex subject of population growth is observed via three individuals who are tackling the topic on a personal level.

Director: Jessica Yu
The Sessions (2012)
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest.

Director: Ben Lewin
Stars: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy
Comedy | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A kid dreams of playing professional basketball in order to escape his dead-end job, living in the suburbs, his bossy older brother and running his Mom's ping pong classes.

Director: Jessica Yu
Stars: Jimmy Tsai, Andrew Vo, Khary Payton
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A documentary on Henry Darger, visionary artist, janitor, and novelist.

Director: Jessica Yu
Stars: Henry Darger, Dakota Fanning, Larry Pine
The Guide I (2013)
Documentary | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

THE GUIDE is a coming-of-age tale set against the restoration of a war-torn national park in Mozambique. Raised near Gorongosa National Park, young Tonga Torcida dreams of becoming a tour ... See full summary »

Director: Jessica Yu
Breathing Lessons (TV Movie 1994)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A married couple review their lives and renew their love for one another while driving to a friend's funeral.

Director: John Erman
Stars: James Garner, Joanne Woodward, Kathryn Erbe
Protagonist (2007)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Jessica Yu's documentary explores the relationship between human life and Euripidean dramatic structure by weaving together the stories of four men: German terrorist, a bank robber, an "ex-gay" evangelist, and a martial arts student.

Director: Jessica Yu
Stars: Hans-Joachim Klein, Mark Salzman, Chris Diamantopoulos
Yearbook (2014)
Animation | Short | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A man is hired to compile the definitive history of human existence before the planet blows up.

Director: Bernardo Britto
Miracle Fish (2009)
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

8 year old Joe has a Birthday he will never forget. After friends bully him, he sneaks off to the sick bay, wishing everyone in the world would go away. He wakes up to find his dream may have become a reality.

Director: Luke Doolan
Stars: Karl Beattie, Kieran Darcy-Smith, Sebastian Dickins
Most (2003)
Short | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A poetic and powerful story of a father forced to choose between love and duty.

Director: Bobby Garabedian
Stars: Vladimír Javorský, Linda Rybová, Ladislav Ondrej
Short | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A nosy neighbor, a drug dealer and an angry husband make for a move-in day that two men will never forget.

Director: Joachim Back
Stars: Vincent D'Onofrio, Kevin Corrigan, Liane Balaban
Dear Diary (1996)
Comedy | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Director: David Frankel
Stars: Bruce Altman, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Cheryl Freeman
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Mark O'Brien ...
Himself
...
Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ian Berzon ...
Himself
Edit

Storyline

According to Mark O'Brien, "The two mythologies about disabled people break down to one: we can't do anything, or two: we can do everything. But the truth is, we're just human." O'Brien was a frequently published journalist and poet, and a contributor to National Public Radio. He contracted polio in childhood and, due to post-polio syndrome, spent much of his life in an iron lung. Yet for more than forty years, he fought against illness, bureaucracy and society's conflicting perceptions of disability for his right to lead an independent life. Breathing Lessons breaks down barriers to understanding by presenting an honest and intimate portrait of a complex, intelligent, beautiful and interesting person, who happens to be disabled. Incorporating the vivid imagery of O'Brien's poetry, and his candid, wry and often profound reflections on work, sex, death and God, this provocative film asks: what makes a life worth living? Written by Meredith Miller

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Short

Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Quotes

Mark O'Brien: Everybody becomes disabled unless they die first.
See more »

Soundtracks

Piano by Sandra Tsing Loh
Guitar by Mike Miller
Cello by Mark Salzman
Cello improvisations by Mark Salzman
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

An ineffable testimony to life, death and dreams.
5 May 2003 | by (oakland ca) – See all my reviews

I can't agree more with the comments made by an earlier viewer of this film. Mark O'Brien's life was lived to the fullest with more courage, guts and compassion than many of us "able bodied" persons. His witty observations serve in their own way as a trenchant critique of a society obsessed with physical beauty and athletic prowess. This is a man whose sexuality, dreams and demons forged a unique and unforgettable life. I came away from the film both humbled by my own pretensions yet exalted by Mark's refusal to give up. (He was an unbending opponent of assisted suicide.) Look for it at your public library. I challenge you to watch this film and not come away a changed person.


3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Contribute to This Page