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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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2,801 ( 85)

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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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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

Dr. Sayer treats the comatose Leonard with a drug called Levodopa (L-DOPA). This was the same drug used to treat Robin Williams' own Parkinson-like symptoms shortly before his death in August 2014. See more »

Goofs

Car window when Dr. Sayer is sitting inside talking to Nurse Costello. See more »

Quotes

Orderly #1: You see doc, we got MS, Tourette's Syndrome, Parkinson's disease, some of 'em we ain't even got a name for...
See more »


Soundtracks

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


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