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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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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

Robin Williams and George Martin previously appeared in Dead Poets Society (1989). See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Dr. Malcolm Sayer: She borrows the will of the ball.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Princess and the Warrior (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Always Chasing Rainbows
Written by Harry Carroll and Joseph McCarthy
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User Reviews

 
To Be Alive
13 July 2015 | by darosslfcSee all my reviews

Awakenings follows the story of two men and their will to never give up. Leonard Low (Robert De Niro) fell victim to an encephalitis epidemic at a young age and has been left in a catatonic state for thirty years. His new doctor, Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) is determined to to find a cure that will revive his patients.

A new drug, L-Dopa, offers hope to the patients. Dr. Sayer ignores the criticisms of his more pessimistic colleagues and drives forward with the drug. During the summer of 1969 the patients of Dr. Sayer awaken and come back to the present after being frozen in time. Led by Leonard the group starts to enjoy life to the fullest.

Robert Di Niro and Robin Williams give one of their best performances in this film. Di Niro in particular must have done a lot of research for his role to get down the symptoms of his ailment. Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List) penned this beautiful script, his second screenplay, and director Penny Marshall (A League of Their Own) brings the story to life.

Unfortunately good things don't last forever, and the L-Dopa cure fails to work over time. Leonard and Dr. Sayer both fight this fact, but they have to come to terms with the limitations. This doesn't detour Leonard in the end though and he is happy to have experienced life again. It is heartbreaking experience, but Dr. Sayer takes Leonard's words to heart and chooses to be alive.


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