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Awakenings (1990)

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

Director:

Penny Marshall

Writers:

Oliver Sacks (book) (as Oliver Sacks M.D.), Steven Zaillian (screenplay)
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2,411 ( 580)

Remembering Penny Marshall

Take a look back at the life and legacy of groundbreaking actor, director, comedian, and producer Penny Marshall.

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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:
Robert De Niro ... Leonard Lowe
Robin Williams ... Dr. Malcolm Sayer
Julie Kavner ... Eleanor Costello
Ruth Nelson ... Mrs. Lowe
John Heard ... Dr. Kaufman
Penelope Ann Miller ... Paula
Alice Drummond ... Lucy
Judith Malina ... Rose
Barton Heyman ... Bert
George Martin George Martin ... Frank
Anne Meara ... Miriam
Richard Libertini ... Sidney
Laura Esterman Laura Esterman ... Lolly
Dexter Gordon ... Rolando
Jayne Haynes 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 »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 January 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Despertares See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$31,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$417,076, 25 December 1990, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$52,096,475
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

The orientation of the eyeglasses when Dr. Sayer attempts to hand them to new patient Lucy. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Lowe: My son is in pain! Please, stop this!
Dr. Sayer: He's fighting, Mrs. Lowe.
Mrs. Lowe: He's losing.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Pioneers of Television: Robin Williams Remembered (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

You Made Me Love You
Written by Joseph McCarthy and James V. Monaco
See more »

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User Reviews

 
formula feel good tear jerker drama
4 November 2012 | by filmalamosaSee all my reviews

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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