7.8/10
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203 user 43 critic

Awakenings (1990)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama | 11 January 1991 (USA)
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2:43 | 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)
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Popularity
2,902 ( 134)
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 ... 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

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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dr. Sayer treats the catatonic patient, 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

Dr Sayer puts on a record saying "This is one of the most beautiful arias ever written...". The record is clearly an LP (you can even see "Long Playing" on the label) but it starts turning at 78rpm - and the music is heard at normal speed. See more »

Quotes

Lucy: I can't imagine being older than 22. I've no experience at it. I know it's not 1926. I just need it to be.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Re: Awakenings (2013) 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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
formula feel good tear jerker drama
4 November 2012 | by filmalamosaSee all my reviews

Being a psychiatrist I was able to evaluate this movie more accurately than most. It gives a simplified and exaggerated but basically accurate account of using a new drug (at the time--1969) to help neurologically seized up patients. The ward looks just like the one I worked on for years at a State Mental Hospital, even the same design of 50's furniture.

The movie is several steps above a Lifetime Television production (which it resembles). Another reviewer said that De Niro was hamming his performance... NO. A dopamine compromised or Parkinson's patient looks exactly like De Niro did only maybe worse.

The ending statement was a stupid platitude. Robbins says "the chemical has stopped working but the human spirit advances through friendships family blah blah blah..." what a lot of solace that would be to one of those patients.

In this movie one can see the provenance of Cocoon.

This movie should get about a 6.5 . Maudlin formula stuff but well done maudlin stuff. I gave it a 7.

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