The story tells of a young woman admitting to having blackouts, fearing they are getting worse. She is diagnosed as suffering from multiple personalities, as a result of severe abuse at the hands of her mother, whom her psychiatrist, Cornelia Wilbur, believes was schizophrenic. The movie Sibyl is based upon author Flora Rheta Schreiber's biography of Shirley Ardell Mason, an American psychiatric patient, suffering from multiple personality disorder. The book, also called Sibyl, was in its turn based largely on the actual accounts of psychiatric treatment that Shirley Ardell Mason underwent, documented by American psychiatrist Cornelia WilburWritten by
The screenwriter thought the role of Sibyl would best be played by an actress who wasn't extremely well known to the public, so they wouldn't bring along previous associations as to her personality. With that in mind, he believed an "interesting" choice would be Lily Tomlin, as she could also obviously create distinct characters for all the separate personalities. He did become completely supportive of the idea of Sally Field playing the role after he witnessed Field's audition, however. See more »
When Sybil and Richard first ride the subway, a man wearing a hat is sitting next to them. Hours later, when they return on the subway, the same man is sitting next to them again. See more »
The original TV-version ran two nights for a total of four hours (198 minutes minus the commercials). Most video copies are pared down in length, one running 122 minutes and another "expanded" to 132 minutes. Both these versions are missing key scenes such as:
The introduction of of the alternate personality "Vanessa"
Sybil's first date with Richard
Her recollection of her childhood sweetheart.
Sybil dissociating into the personality of an infant, leading to Dr. Wilbur's memorable statements "My god Sybil, what did that monster do to you? What happened in the green kitchen?"
Dr. Wilbur confronting Willard Dorsett over him having left his daughter in the care of such an obvious and dangerously disturbed woman as Hattie
Sybil's two male personalities arguing with Dr. Wilbur about them being able to father children
Sybil finally confronting and learning to accept all of her personalities while under hypnosis
What a moving, outstandingly brilliant film starring Joanne Woodward, Brad Davies and Sally Field who won an Emmy for her unforgettably, rare and treasuring performance as the susceptible and disturbed Sybil!
Psychological drama, based on a true story; Sally Field stars as Sybil Dorset, a 20-something supply-teacher who suffered unspeakably horrifying treatment from her volatile mother (Martine Bartlett) and subsequently developed sixteen different personalities. With the help of her caring psychiatrist (Joanne Woodward), she slowly but surely learns how to identify herself.
Sally Field could have been the Meryl Streep-like actress of this generation. Before watching Sybil, I was unaware of her erratic next role and as such was intrigued upon discovering she played a woman with multiple personalities. Watching her portray each character thoroughly is overwhelming and cherished. It's a shame both she Sybil are so underrated and ignored.
Joanne Woodward is equally cherished in her role as the sympathetic and patient psychiatrist who nurses Sybil back to a normal woman. She too seems rather underrated as I'd never heard of her until I watched Sybil. I may need to consider delving into her CV for some good movies to get a hold on.
The only problem with the video I managed to snatch off eBay was that fact it was a pirate copy AND didn't even get to the end of the sodding film! Despite getting towards the end of the film is still sadly disrupted my enjoyment of Sybil and now I don't know how it ends. I've posted a message on the message board and hope to have an answer from someone soon. However, all of what I watched was incredibly excellent and as I said earlier - overwhelming.
My only question would be why the hell hasn't this been released on DVD? Or even screened on British TV?! I will not rest until amazon.com sees sense and releases the full four hour, uncut version. With a range of special features, including commentary from both Sally Field and Joanne Woodward, a documentary on Shirley Ardell Mason - the real Sybil who passed away back in 1998 and a selection of different languages - including Spanish and French - for non-English speaking viewers.
UPDATE: To my delight, I have recently realized that whoever they are have finally seen sense and agreed for a two disk, full, uncut version of the original Sybil - accompanied with several special features - is to be released on May 23rd 2006. To celebrate its 30th anniversary. I've already marked it in my calendar. Tick-tock ... tick-tock ... tick-tock ...
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