1969. Dr. Malcolm Sayer is hired as a clinical physician at a local 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 convince, ...Written by
At one point, this was a film Steven Spielberg considered directing, before passing it on to Penny Marshall. The time he spent on the project did yield one useful outcome for him: Steven Zaillian's script took several short chapters, each about different patients, and put them together into a linear whole. This brought Zaillian to Spielberg's attention, and he offered Zaillian the similar task of adapting Schindler's List (1993), which ended up winning Oscars for both of them. See more »
1969 - After Dr Sayer exits his car he looks up at the care facility he has an interview appointment. Clearly heard in the background is a modern day electronic siren at a time when the Federal 'Pulsator' siren was still the standard siren used. See more »
You told him I was a kind man. How kind is it to give life, only to take it away?
It's given to and taken away from all of us.
Why does that not comfort me?
Because you are a kind man. Because he's your friend.
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Robin Williams Should Do Films Like This More Often
"Awakenings" is a positively surprising career change of pace for its two leads, Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro. Based on a true story, the film is about the experimental drug invented by Dr. Oliver Sacks (Williams) and how it successfully awakened many paitents from catatonic states which had lasted as long as 30 years. DeNiro gives an especially moving performance as one of the paitents who also turns out to be one of the drug's biggest success stories. It's a real shame how overlooked this film turned out to be for Williams' career. He should be getting praised for his quality dramatic performances in films that matter like this one rather than for his inferior comedies. This film proves that Williams can successfully expand his range and be a great dramatic actor. The same goes for DeNiro and his performance here as well.
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