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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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3,190 ( 779)

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

Penny Marshall at first wanted Bill Murray to play Leonard Lowe, who was interested in the project, but she decided against it because she didn't want audiences expecting a comedy. See more »

Goofs

At one point Dr. Sayers describes L-DOPA as synthetic dopamine. It is in fact a precursor to dopamine, i.e. a substance used by the body to synthesize dopamine. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Sayer: What we do know is that, as the chemical window closed, another awakening took place; that the human spirit is more powerful than any drug - and THAT is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. THESE are the things that matter. This is what we'd forgotten - the simplest things.
See more »


Soundtracks

Shanghai Shuffle
Written by Gene Rodemich (as G. Rodemich) and Larry Conley (as L. Conley)
Performed by Fletcher Henderson
Courtesy of MCA Records
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User Reviews

 
What An Incredible Story!!
20 March 2006 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

Here's a good example of how you can still make a great modern-day movie without profanity, violence or sex.

This is an amazing story, based on fact, about about a doctor who makes great progress fighting an illness that heretofore was considered incurable. These were patients in catatonic states, and the good doctor uses an experimental drug to snap these people back to reality and to a normal life as they once had. The patients, and how they react, both before and after the medications, is really fascinating.

Robert De Niro is outstanding as one of the patients, but that's not a surprise knowing all the fine acting performances he's done over the years. Robin Williams, relatively new to dramatic acting when this came out, was also excellent in a very low-key role. Penelope Ann Miller is extremely sweet and appealing. I wish both she and Williams would do more roles like that.

With multiple viewings, I came to appreciate the minor characters in here a lot more, such as De Niro's mother, played by Ruth Nelson, whom I fondly remember in the 1945 film "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn." What a treat is was to see her again and this was just two years before she died. Also, Alice Drummund as the patient known as "Lucy" was notable.

Language-wise, i's almost stunning to watch a movie which has De Niro, Williams, Miller and John Heard and not hear one profane word uttered! (The film isn't perfect, however, as some idiot decided to insert one f-word, and in a totally unnecessary circumstance.)

This is a memorable story and one I guarantee you won't forget because the subject matter is so different.


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