My Review of "Awakenings"
A story about waking up, but what are we waking up to?
Awakenings came out back in 1990. It's based on a true story that talks about a lot of deep things. I remember seeing the trailers for this movie when it first came out and never thought of watching it. Today as we're going through this global pandemic I needed something uplifting to watch. So I decided to give it a try.
This movie is based in a mental ward in 1969. In this institution there are a large number of patients that suffer from some weird catatonic state. They look as if they are in a vegetative state but yet their eyes are open but they don't really respond.
As you would expect in those times finding doctors to work in this institute was slim pickings. Here is where our main character Dr. Malcolm Sayer, played by Robin Williams, comes to play. Dr. Sayer loves to research and was hoping to be hired to do research. I guess he was at the right place at the right time.
He's quickly assigned to a group of catatonic patients. At first he was put off by the institute because of the large amounts of unstable patients. Luckily he has a Eleanor, played by Julie Kavner. Eleanor is a caring nurse and she loves the fact that Dr. Sayer has drive and actually cares for his patients.
For years these catatonic patients have been ignored because of their state. The institute had simply given up on them. As a diligent researcher, Dr. Sayer makes some remarkable deductions about his patients. He looked at all of their charts and noticed that they had all suffered from the encephalitis epidemic that had happened 30 years ago. They were also responsive with certain stimuli despite being in a catatonic state. It drove him to find new ways of sparking his patients back to life.
Soon he is introduced to a new drug called L-Dopa. This drug was originally intended for patients that suffered from Parkinson's disease but Dr. Sayer was able to see the added use of the drug. He wanted to test the drug on one of his patients named Leonard, played by Robert De Niro. Thankfully, Leonard's mother, played by Ruth Nelson consents to the experimental drug.
The drug miraculously works but with strange circumstances. Questions start to pop up. They wanted to know if the patients were able to remember what had happened in the last 30 years. It wasn't known what frame of mind these patients would be after they've been awoken. Side effects were also not considered when they administered the drug.
If I go further I may ruin the movie for you. When you see the movie you'll understand all of the questions that are being asked. In the end Dr. Sayer begins to learn from his patients while the patients get a new lease on their lives.
The movie goes through a gamut of emotions. Fear, anger, love, happiness, sadness and laughter are all displayed equally in this movie. It's a surprisingly deep conversation about a lot of things in life.
The characters are well thought out with tons of different flaws that you can see that don't make us hate them. I really felt for all of the characters in this movie. They're all victims of their circumstances much like how today we're victims of a global pandemic. Everyone in this movie learns that they have to make the most of their situation.
The actors in this movie knocked it out of the park. Robert De Niro and Robin Williams do some of their best work in this movie. I really felt for these characters. They made really good work of carrying us through their character's journey from their low points and their highs.
Overall, this movie is absolutely fantastic. I think more than anything this movie really resonates to us in this dire time we're experiencing today. It's a film that gives us encouragement to do the best with what we've got. I have to give this movie an 8.5 out of 10. It's a movie that I would suggest especially during this global pandemic and I could watch this again.