MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 10,254 this week

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

 -  Documentary | Short
7.9
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.9/10 from 97 users  
Reviews: 5 user

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

Director:

Writer:

0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $1.99 on Amazon Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 250 titles
created 28 Apr 2011
 
a list of 1180 titles
created 12 Aug 2011
 
a list of 61 titles
created 03 Sep 2011
 
a list of 164 titles
created 02 Jan 2013
 
a list of 29 titles
created 3 weeks ago
 

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

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

Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien (1996) on IMDb 7.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien.
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Herb and Dorothy Vogel redefine what it means to be an art collector.

Director: Megumi Sasaki
Stars: Paula Antebi, Will Barnet, Robert Barry
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A documentary on the German artist that includes glimpses at his studio, which has not been seen in decades.

Director: Corinna Belz
Stars: Gerhard Richter, Norbert Arns, Hubert Becker
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Documentary on Charles Bukowski, author of 'Notes of a Dirty Old Man', 'Love Is a Dog from Hell', and the autobiographical novels, 'Women', 'Hollywood', and 'Post Office'.

Director: John Dullaghan
Stars: Charles Bukowski, Bono, John Bryan
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A portrait of New York artist Keith Haring.

Director: Christina Clausen
Stars: Fab 5 Freddy, Jeffrey Deitch, Julia Gruen
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames were America's most influential and important industrial designers. Admired for their creations and fascinating as individuals, they have ... See full summary »

Directors: Jason Cohn, Bill Jersey
Stars: Charles Eames, Ray Eames, James Franco
The Sessions (2012)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    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
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Alan Moore writer, artist and performer is the world's most critically acclaimed and widely admired creator of comic books and graphic novels.

Directors: Dez Vylenz, Moritz Winkler
Stars: Glenn Doherty, Florian Fischer, Alan Moore
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The career and life of Stanley Kubrick is explored through pictures, clips from his films, his old home movies, comments from his colleagues and a narration by Tom Cruise.

Director: Jan Harlan
Stars: Katharina Kubrick, Malcolm McDowell, Tom Cruise
Crumb (1994)
Documentary | Biography | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Charles Crumb
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Director: Jessica Yu
Stars: Issa Ibrahim, John C. Mapp, Janos Morton
The Conductor (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Jessica Yu
Stars: Mark Salzman
Better Late (1998)
Drama | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A middle-aged man sets the table for two. His sister drops by to give him their late mother's wedding ring, and flowers for the table for this special night. He changes his clothes several ... See full summary »

Director: Jessica Yu
Stars: Tek Young Lin, Bette Rae, Rod Roeser
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

 
The equal of King Gimp, this is an incredible piece of work!
7 January 2003 | by (Tucson AZ) – See all my reviews

This is probably the second most difficult comment I have written on anything at the IMDb, but I saw this yesterday and, if I didn't comment on this, I likely would regret not doing so, so here goes:

Mark O'Brien was born roughly ten years before I was and contracted polio at age six, in 1955. Thus he was in an iron lung before I was even born. I have Cerebral Palsy, but even in that, I am comparatively fortunate. Mr. O'Brien struggled just to stay alive, to draw breath. Placed in context to that, my difficulties are a minor inconvenience. But, be that as it may, the reason that this struck me so profoundly is that, despite the major differences in our particular circumstances, at times in this documentary, his remarks were all too familiar to me. The disabled are viewed quite differently by a large segment of the "presently able-bodied" (that's as logical and meaningful a label as "differently abled", a phrase that is such a null that I hardly know where to begin in discussing it, so I won't) and most disabled individuals put up with things on a daily basis that would send the average person to the top of a building with a rifle and a scope inside of a week. On bad days, I think most people would probably breathe a sigh of relief if we, reminders of humanity's fragility, would just vanish. O'Brien not only thought that, he said and wrote it out loud.

One segment, toward the end, made me start crying, it hit so close to home. I won't discuss it here, but O'Brien talked about something in front of a camera that I doubt I could have even tap danced around. To anyone who has seen this, what O'Brien talked about here, it's not just an isolated instance, not just one voice in the wilderness. I'd wager that there are a lot of people out and about who'd say the same if pressed.

Disabled people are just that-PEOPLE who happen to be disabled. Treat us as such-people, more or less like you, just a bit different.

This should be in print and available. Well worth tracking down. Most highly recommended.


10 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Contribute to This Page