Awakenings

Dr. Malcolm Sayer, a shy research physician, uses an experimental drug to “awaken” the catatonic victims of a rare disease. Leonard is the first patient to receive the controversial treatment. His awakening, filled with awe and enthusiasm, proves a rebirth for Sayer too, as the exuberant patient reveals life’s simple but unutterably sweet pleasures to the introverted doctor.
<%%item_is_not_adult%%

Credits: TheMovieDb.

Film Cast:

  • Leonard Lowe: Robert De Niro
  • Malcolm Sayer: Robin Williams
  • Dr. Kaufman: John Heard
  • Eleanor Costello: Julie Kavner
  • Paula: Penelope Ann Miller
  • Mrs. Lowe: Ruth Nelson
  • Peter Ingham: Max von Sydow
  • Miriam: Anne Meara
  • Rolando: Dexter Gordon
  • Frank: George Martin
  • Lucy Fishman: Alice Drummond
  • Sidney: Richard Libertini
  • Lolly: Laura Esterman
  • Bert: Barton Heyman
  • Rose: Judith Malina
  • Nurse Margaret: Mary Alice
  • Anthony: Keith Diamond
  • Dr. Tyler: Bradley Whitford
  • Dr. Sullivan: John Christopher Jones
  • Nurse Beth: Mary Catherine Wright
  • Frances: Jayne Haynes
  • Magda: Le Clanché du Rand
  • Joseph: Yusef Bulos
  • Luis: Steven Randazzo
  • Dottie: Gloria Harper
  • Desmond: Gwyllum Evans
  • Ray: Steve Vinovich
  • Janitor: Tiger Haynes
  • Hospital Director: Harvey Miller
  • Psychiatrist: Tanya Berezin
  • Neurochemist: Peter Stormare
  • Man in Hall: Shane Fistell
  • Hysterical Woman: Waheedah Ahmad
  • Mr. Kean: Charles Keating
  • Christina: Christina Huertes
  • Fishsticks: Linda Burns
  • Hospital Receptionist: Judy Jacksina
  • George: Gary Tacon
  • Orderly #1: Rico Elias
  • Nurse Sara: Mel Gorham
  • EEG Technician: Chris Carolan
  • Cafeteria Nurse: Debra Kovner-Zaks
  • Hospital Orderly (Uncredited): Vin Diesel
  • Ward #5 Orderly: Max Rabinowitz
  • Ward #5 Patient: Gordon Joseph Weiss
  • Ward #5 Patient #2: Byron Utley
  • Ward #5 Patient #3: Anthony McGowen
  • Ward #5 Patient #4: Paul Montgomery
  • Ward #5 Patient #5: Leonard Tepper
  • Ward #5 Patient #6: Vincent Pastore
  • Ward #5 Patient #7: Howard Feller
  • Club Singer: Libby Titus
  • Bus Driver: Michael Hyde
  • Bartender: Tomislav Novakovic
  • Librarian: Adam Bryant
  • Young Leonard: Anthony J. Nici
  • Leonard’s Friend #1: Oliver Block
  • Leonard’s Friend #2: Buck Smith
  • Teacher: Joan E. MacIntosh
  • Medical Student: Harry L. Seddon
  • Psych Ward Intern: Jack Mulcahy

Film Crew:

  • Thanks: Carrie Fisher
  • Editor: Gerald B. Greenberg
  • Casting: Bonnie Timmermann
  • Screenplay: Steven Zaillian
  • Producer: Walter F. Parkes
  • Production Design: Anton Furst
  • Director of Photography: Miroslav Ondříček
  • Music Editor: Laura Perlman
  • Thanks: Tracy Reiner
  • Music: Randy Newman
  • Executive Producer: Arne Schmidt
  • Art Department Assistant: Sarah Knowles
  • Assistant Art Director: Alan E. Muraoka
  • Producer: Lawrence Lasker
  • Camera Operator: Tom Priestley Jr.
  • Executive Producer: Penny Marshall
  • Hairstylist: Scott W. Farley
  • Editor: Battle Davis
  • Hairstylist: Ilona Herman
  • Script Supervisor: Sheila Paige
  • Set Decoration: George DeTitta Jr.
  • Location Manager: Richard Baratta
  • Additional Editing: Jere Huggins
  • Unit Production Manager: Timothy M. Bourne
  • Thanks: Patricia Birch
  • Book: Oliver Sacks
  • Second Assistant Director: Glen Trotiner
  • Costume Design: Cynthia Flynt
  • Construction Coordinator: Ron Petagna
  • Still Photographer: Louis Goldman
  • Makeup Artist: Bernadette Mazur
  • Executive Producer: Elliot Abbott
  • Art Direction: Bill Groom
  • Chief Lighting Technician: Richard Quinlan
  • Sound Editor: Hugo Weng
  • Thanks: Yakov Sklyansky
  • Thanks: Ed. Weinberger
  • Thanks: Jack Winter
  • Foley Editor: David Williams
  • Assistant Editor: Suzanne Pillsbury
  • Sound Re-Recording Mixer: Matthew Iadarola
  • Sound Editor: Hamilton Sterling
  • Music Editor: James Flamberg
  • Sound Editor: Bob Newlan
  • Supervising Sound Editor: Jerry Ross
  • Transportation Captain: Michael Hyde
  • Sound Re-Recording Mixer: Gary C. Bourgeois
  • Unit Publicist: Larry Kaplan
  • Leadman: Gerald DeTitta
  • Property Master: Robert Griffon Jr.
  • Hairstylist: William A. Farley
  • ADR Editor: Joe Dorn
  • Assistant Sound Editor: Michele Perrone
  • Assistant Sound Editor: Linda Yeaney
  • Assistant Costume Designer: George Potts
  • Sound Editor: John Morris
  • Foley Editor: Mark Pappas
  • Supervising ADR Editor: Beth Bergeron
  • Production Sound Mixer: Les Lazarowitz
  • Boom Operator: Linda Murphy
  • Cableman: Michael Bedard
  • Production Accountant: Margaret Mitchell
  • Negative Cutter: Donah Bassett
  • Associate Producer: Amy Lemisch
  • First Assistant Director: Tony Gittelson
  • Art Department Assistant: Lynn Nigro
  • First Assistant Editor: Kathryn Camp
  • Assistant Editor: Debbie Goldsmith
  • Assistant Sound Editor: Michelle Pleis

Movie Reviews:

  • Wuchak: ***A ‘hospital film’ with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, based on a true story***

    A shy doctor (Robin Williams) gets a job at a Bronx hospital in 1969 where he attends to several patients in a catatonic state after the encephalitis epidemic of 1917–28. He experiments with a new drug that offers the hope of reviving them. Robert De Niro plays his key patient, Julie Kavner his nurse and John Heard his supervisor. Penelope Ann Miller is also on hand as a potential romantic interest.

    “Awakenings” (1990) is based on Oliver Sacks’ 1973 memoir of the same name, which chronicled the true event that occurred the summer of ’69. Being a hospital movie about ailing people trying to recover puts it in the same camp as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) and “Instinct” (1999), but it’s not as compelling.

    There’s just not enough human interest beyond the viewer being sympathetic toward the patients’ plight and wanting them to get well. It’s also marred by some blatant predictableness, like Leonard’s name on the bench and the “cup of coffee” aspect. Still, this is a tale that needed to be told and I’m not sorry I watched it. It’s just overrated.

    The film runs 2 hours and was shot in Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, New York City.

    GRADE: C+

%d bloggers like this: