Awakenings Review and Blu-ray Feature
11 January 1991
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
The scene that just broke my heart…
When DeNiro dances with the girl and then watches her through the fenced window as she leaves to get on her bus….this scene makes me cry and cry again–it is so well done. It happens while everyone quietly watches and then they all look away when he leaves the window and makes his way back out of the room….POWERFUL scene….wow.
I actually cried through most of the last 30 minutes….such a great, underrated film.
i liked the scene when he realized that the medicin actually didn’t work after all.
this was the movie that touched me the most;
listening to end music alone makes me cry
wonderful wonderful sad movie!
I actually felt most emotional at the bit when Leonard has just awoken, and he sees his mother for the first time. What a moment!
But, for me, the most heart-rending is near the end when Leonard is suffering the relapse and is talking to Paula and says that he can’t see her again because his illness is returning. He shakes her hand and tries to leave but she holds on to him and she stands up, takes him in her arms and they dance. That whole scene and what follows as he watches her leave the hospital, is one of the most emotional scenes I have seen in any film.
When Leonards Illness is returning and he begins to rebel against the doctors in his defense to be able to leave the institution to go for a walk.After his attack on Dr Sayer.The Dr returns to the ward to see him sitting alone in a corner.The next morning after helping him return.as Leonard is standing by the window,he quietly pleads with Dr Sayer “Dont give up on me”.
It has to be (for me) at the very end, where Robin Williams and Julie Kavner are watching the film of Leonard……dialogue (Williams first)
“You told him I was a kind man; how kind is it to give life, only to take it away again”?
“It’s given, and taken away, from all of us”
“Why doesn’t that comfort me”?
“Because you are a kind man; he was your friend”.
That exchange just breaks me up every time I see it, and Randy Newman’s music piles on the emotion for me – why, I can not explain.
Mine is the part near the end, when Lenard is relapsing, where he says to Dr. Sayer “Learn from me”! As if he knows the game is lost for him but maybe not for others after him.
This entire movie is extraordinary. Who would have guessed that the director, Penny Marshall (Laverne) had this ability? One of the scenes I find so touching is when Leonard’s mother sings him a lullaby. They did not substitute a professional singer with a perfect voice. They just let the actress sing in her own imperfect way. It makes me feel teary, just thinking of it.
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 1973 documentary about the patients, also called “Awakenings”.
The rock that De Niro is standing on in the water is named Killy Rock. It is located in Edgewater Park, a small waterfront community in The Bronx.
Why did the drug lose its effect?
I didn’t understand why they all went back to their catatonic state, can anyone tell me?
Is it because they weren’t allowed a 1000 mg dose of L-Dopa or something?
The side effects were so bad that I think they stopped taking it and returned to their catatonic states.
L-Dopa also is supposed to replace a brain chemical that is not being made properly and is supposed to balance the brain’s activity out. In some cases L-Dopa can cause other chemicals in the brain or body to over/under produce after long term use and it loses the original benefits. That may have been what happened to Leonard and the others. After working for a brief period, their bodies either started rejecting the L-Dopa or it lost its effectiveness. The coda at the end did mention they tried other drugs as they came onto the market in the future and also got short periods of awakening but none of the drugs could permanently repair or regulate the damage their brains suffered
L-Dopa’s effect & absorption in the body unfortunately wears off after a time.
This is true also when it is taken for Parkinson’s Disease. It works for a while, then usually stops.
the dancing scene
The scene when Robin Williams was with the patients in that dance club, the old lady was coming on to him singing “you made me love you” He sure was uncomfortable in that scene.
RT/Meta Critic Review
A beautifully moving, life-affirming true story.(Chuck O’Leary)
Tour-de-force performances and one memorable storyline (Clint Morris)
Once again, Image has opted to fit a two-hour film on a BD-25, but since there are no extras of any kind and only one audio track, they seem to have gotten away with it. The 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray does a splendid job of presenting cinematographer Miroslav Ondrícek’s subtly muted period photography. Ondrícek had previously “done” the late Sixties in one of his several collaborations with director Miloš Forman, Hair. But that film depicted a colorful fantasyland, whereasAwakenings is set in a real place where funds are tight, upkeep is neglected and no one dresses to be noticed. Ondrícek and director Marshall don’t resort to cheap tricks like magically brightening the frame or shining additional light on Leonard or the other patients when they wake up. They let the actors do the work of brightening the frame, and the character transformations are all the more convincing as a result.
Because of the setting and the nature of the original photography, this is not a Blu-ray image that will “pop”, but it is faithful to the source and well rendered. The detail of the hospital wards and the patients’ attire is fully visible, as is the detail of Dr. Sayer’s chaotic home. (One glance, and you know he’s a bachelor.) In the sequence where the patients take a day trip, the careful re-creation of 1969’s street scenes can be appreciated down to the trashiest attire, and the dance hall where they end up stands out for being shiny and colorful. The film’s grain is visible but never distracting, and the source material is in excellent condition. Black levels are sufficiently solid that the many night scenes in the hospital are dark without being murky or losing detail.
The film’s original stereo soundtrack has been remixed for 5.1 and presented in DTS lossless. (Sony’s first DVD in 1997 retained the stereo track.) Unlike some 5.1 remixes from stereo, this one has been done with care and restraint. The bulk of the track remains in the front speakers where it belongs, with the dialogue anchored firmly and clearly in the center. But subtle ambiant noises waft into the surrounds where appropriate, and sometimes they do a little more. For example, in a scene where Dr. Sayer forces open a window that’s been painted shut so that he can escape from the hospital for just a moment, the surrounds accentuate the sensation by contrasting the suppressed environment inside the room with the much livelier surroundings that greet Sayer outside.
Randy Newman wrote one of his fine orchestral scores for Awakenings: sincere and emotional, but at the same time reserved and devoid of schmaltz. Newman is incapable of sentimentality, which made him the perfect composer forAwakenings. The DTS lossless track showcases his score to good advantage.
None, not even a trailer.