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Awakenings (1990) Poster

(1990)

Trivia

The rock, on which Leonard Lowe (Robert De Niro) stands, is named Killy Rock. It is located in Edgewater Park, a small waterfront community in The Bronx, New York.
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When filming the scene where Dr. Sayer and the security guards attempt to restrain Leonard, Robin Williams accidentally hit Robert De Niro in the face with his elbow, breaking De Niro's nose. De Niro later commented that his nose had been broken before, in the opposite direction, and this injury actually straightened it back out.
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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.
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Based on a nonfiction book by Oliver Sacks, with the character of Sayer based closely on Sacks.
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Prior to filming, the cast members portraying patients studied films of Dr. Oliver Sacks' post-encephalitis patients, and Robert De Niro and Robin Williams spent time with Sacks in the hospital observing him and his patients.
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For the movie, Robert De Niro filmed a scene with "Lillian T.", the only surviving patient from Oliver Sacks' book, "Awakenings". She was also said to have been the most outspoken patient in the 1974 Yorkshire Television (UK) documentary about the patients, also called "Awakenings".
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Famed jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon, who portrayed Rolando in the film, passed away eight months before the film's release.
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One of Robin Williams' favorite films of his own.
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Vin Diesel's film debut.
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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.
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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.
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The name that Leonard spells out on the Ouija board is German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and the poem that Dr. Sayer quotes in the arboretum is "The Panther".
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Oliver Sacks has been fictionalized into an American neurosurgeon named Malcolm Sayer. However, Robin Williams' portrayal actually bears a very close physical resemblance to the real Dr. Sacks, as he was in the 1960s. (Contributed on the day of Dr. Sacks' passing.)
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The lullaby, that Leonard's mother sings to him at the hospital, is called "Slumber Boat".
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Robin Williams and Robert De Niro were both with John Belushi the night before he fatally overdosed at the Chateau Marmont. Penny Marshall was also going to direct Joy of Sex (1984), that was going to be Belushi's next starring vehicle.
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Robert De Niro wanted Shelley Winters to play his mother. However, the studio insisted that she read for the part first. Winters refused to do so and when she met the casting director, she reportedly put both her Oscars on his desk and said, "Some people think I can act".
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Final credited acting role of Jan Saint.
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The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Robin Williams and Robert De Niro; and two Oscar nominees: Dexter Gordon and Max von Sydow.
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This was the last film, on which Production Designer Anton Furst worked.
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Anton Furst's work on this film was inspired by the works of famous photographer Diane Arbus: "I'm putting these characters in an uncomplicated background, in a big spatial void, but isolating them."
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In the scene where the patients all awaken, Nurse Costello charges through the door into Dr. Sayer's office where he is asleep, she calls, "Dr. Sayer". He jumps up and says, "What is it?", whereupon she says, "It's a fucking miracle!" However, in recent years, almost all screenings of the film delete the obvious word, leaving, "It's a miracle!"
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Robert De Niro and Robin Williams appeared in The Big Wedding (2013).
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The only Best Picture Oscar nominee not nominated in either of the support acting categories that year.
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The only film that year nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and not in any Best Motion Picture category at the Golden Globes.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Dr. Malcolm Sayer is a fictionalized version of Dr. Oliver Sacks, who wrote a book and made a documentary film on the effects of L-Dopa on his patients. In this movie, Sayer eventually overcomes his shyness and accepts a date with Eleanor. In his 2015 autobiography, "On the Move", Dr. Sacks says that (like his fictional counterpart) he was very shy when he was younger, but he was also gay.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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