7.8/10
122,875
223 user 47 critic

Awakenings (1990)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 11 January 1991 (USA)
Trailer
2:44 | Trailer
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)
Reviews
Popularity
2,533 ( 60)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

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 ... Frank
Anne Meara ... Miriam
Richard Libertini ... Sidney
Laura Esterman Laura Esterman ... Lolly
Dexter Gordon ... Rolando
Jayne Haynes Jayne Haynes ... Frances
Edit

Storyline

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 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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Dr. Sayer: You told him I was a kind man. How kind is it to give life, only to take it away?
Eleanor: It's given to and taken away from all of us.
Dr. Sayer: Why does that not comfort me?
Eleanor: Because you are a kind man. Because he's your friend.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Purple Haze
Written & Performed by Jimi Hendrix
Courtesy of Elber B.V.
See more »

User Reviews

Robin Williams Should Do Films Like This More Often
25 October 2002 | by sorannoSee all my reviews

"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.


83 of 92 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 223 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 January 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Awakenings See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$31,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$417,076, 25 December 1990

Gross USA:

$52,096,475

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$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 »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page



Recently Viewed