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
For the movie, Robert De Niro filmed a scene with "Lillian T.", the only surviving patient from Oliver Sacks' book, "Awakenings". She was also said to have been the most outspoken patient in the 1974 Yorkshire Television (UK) documentary about the patients, also called "Awakenings". See more »
The orientation of the eyeglasses when Dr. Sayer attempts to hand them to new patient Lucy. See more »
Being a psychiatrist I was able to evaluate this movie more accurately than most. It gives a simplified and exaggerated but basically accurate account of using a new drug (at the time--1969) to help neurologically seized up patients. The ward looks just like the one I worked on for years at a State Mental Hospital, even the same design of 50's furniture.
The movie is several steps above a Lifetime Television production (which it resembles). Another reviewer said that De Niro was hamming his performance... NO. A dopamine compromised or Parkinson's patient looks exactly like De Niro did only maybe worse.
The ending statement was a stupid platitude. Robbins says "the chemical has stopped working but the human spirit advances through friendships family blah blah blah..." what a lot of solace that would be to one of those patients.
In this movie one can see the provenance of Cocoon.
This movie should get about a 6.5 . Maudlin formula stuff but well done maudlin stuff. I gave it a 7.
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