5.0 out of 5 stars Williams and DeNiro shine!
Based on the real life story of Dr. Oliver Sacks, 'Awakenings' ranks as one of the best movies I've seen. If features a terrific screenplay that was adapted from the book and a memorable directing job by Penny Marshall. But the most suprising thing to me was the choice of actors to play the two main roles in the movie. Robin Williams was pretty much known as the...
Published on Jun 30 2002 by John Margaritis
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Groan.
Hollywood toying with our emotions yet again. Here's a clue for Hollywood - these types of films work when the manipulation is subtle.
Published on April 25 1999
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4.0 out of 5 stars DeNiro, Williams in a poignant human drama,
This review is from: Awakenings (VHS Tape)Undeniably one of the industry's most underrated directors, Penny Marshall attained lofty heights in 1990 with this poignant and true drama about one doctor's (Robin Williams, in a brilliant dramatic performance) awakening his own soul to the risk of love while literally awakening patients in a New York chronic care hospital in the late 1960's. Based on Dr. Oliver W. Sacks' novel of the same time and based on his professional experience, "Awakenings" is one doctor's triumph in identifying (by accident) the correct chemical balance in the drug L-Dopa to bring sufferers of a sleeping sickness that totally immobilizes them to life. As Leonard, Robert DeNiro is the shiniest of the wonder drug's triumphs, and DeNiro glimmers in one of the most compelling and humane performances of his magnificent career. But the miracle begins to wane all too soon, and both Dr. Sayer and Leonard painfully prepare for the day when Leonard and his fellow sufferers lapse again into their immobilized state. The film's scenes that lead to that devastation are real, honest and painfully moving and don't insult us with phony sentimentality. But in the process, Leonard instills in his and his fellow patients' caregivers a sense of humanity for their suffering, and Dr. Sayer manages to find the courage to risk loving something other than his work. In a supporting role as the object of Leonard's rediscovered love, Penelope Ann Miller is tremendous. It is little wonder the film was a favorite with multiple Oscar nominations, and DeNiro and Williams are at their best here. But it is director Marshall's vision of the fragility of human life and love and the power of that which is the focus of her film, and her vision is powerfully moving and humbling.
5.0 out of 5 stars Williams and DeNiro shine!,
The film is based on Dr. Leo Sayer(Williams) and his work with people who have come down with a mysterious sleeping-sickness in 1918, which has left them in a catatonic state. Dr. Sayer is a shy person who is not comfortable conversing with others, but is also a very dedicated neurologist. He starts to work with these "sleeping" people and thinks that he senses something in them that is alive deep inside. He begins to work with a man called Leonard Lowe(DeNiro), and takes a special interest in him. He reads up on the drug L-Dopa, which had helped people in similiar states as his patients, and tries to convince the hospital and Leonard's mother to try the drug on her son. They allow the test to happen, and Leonard wakes up from his "sleep". The drug is then tried on his other patients with similar results. You would think that it was a happy story from thereafter, but life is not full of Hollywood endings, and the story does not take the easy way out. It won't leave you depressed or exhilarated but somewhere in between, like life is most of the time.
Definitely one of the best films to come out in the past 12 years, and should be in any serious movie buff's collection. There are no extra's on the DVD, but the quality of the picture is pretty good. But in the end, isn't it about the movie, not the extra's(by the way, I love the extra's just as much as everyone else). Marshall, Williams, and DeNiro have made a special film that they should be proud of and will be watched by generations to come.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Heart Touching Film,
5.0 out of 5 stars Miracle in New York--a Miracle from Hollywood,
Based on Oliver Sack's book, AWAKENINGS recounts the story of a miracle that occurred in a New York hospital during the mid-1960s. Bucking the system and believing in his theory, Williams' character brings back a dozen patients who appear catatonic--DeNiro being one of them. Through massive applications of the drug L-Dopa, the patients revive and take sheer joy out of just simple tasks. Although the sad ending has been given away by others, I feel the film remains a positive story. It is about human endurance and also about the joys we some times take for granted.
5.0 out of 5 stars De Niro And Williams at there best!!,
Robin Williams dedicates his time to finding a cure or at least something to help these patients like somewhat of a normal life. I dont want to ruin the movie for those who havent seen it some Im gonna stop there.
But Robert De Niro does an excellent job with his role in this movie. He his famous for his roles in The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Heat, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Untouchables, and Casino. In all of these movies he plays either a gangster or a bad@$$ of some sort. So seeing this movie really shows the acting ability that he has.
I dont usually watch movies like this but I had De Niro in it so I had to watch it. And coming from someone who loves Gangster Movies; this is one of Robert De Niro's best performances and I recommend this movie to everyone, this is a must see!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Williams & DeNiro are Great!,
The scene where DeNiro wakes up for the first time and puts his arms out with a big smile is one of my favorite movie scenes of all-time. This was probably Robin Williams best role ever!
4.0 out of 5 stars TOUCHING DRAMA WITH SUPERB PERFORMANCES.,
It's really a shame that diseases like this can destroy the ability to fulfill the hopes and desires of the human beings, and "Awakenings" superbly captures on-screen the pain and suffer of the relatives of the affected people that can't fully enjoy their physical abilities.
"Awakenings" displays excellent performances from Robin Williams, in one of his finest performances, and the magnificent Robert De Niro as well. However, the movie wouldn't had the same impact if the supporting cast wouldn't delivered such fine performances as they did on "Awakenings", everybody on this movie contributed to print a remarkable realism to the movie.
"Awakenings" is a film that will provoke several feelings, will provide clean entertainment and will make people reflect about the value of life, because the human life could be limited or finished at any time.
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Movie,
5.0 out of 5 stars Facing the Incurable Disease,
'Awakenings' is a story of hope, survival, and triumph of human spirit amidst of uncertainties in the fields of science and health. Two of the most notable and brilliant actors in their own right (and at the same time, included in my lists of favorite actors)...Robin Williams and Robert de Niro surfaces their award-winning performances in this film. Dr. Sayer magnificently played by Robin Williams which I truly commend him for being a versatile actor...not just a comedian but an actor whose different portrayals in his different movies gave an astounding performances with better execution. We saw Robin Williams played also as a doctor in 'Patch Adams' which is more humorous and spirited act but not in 'Awakenings' which branded more on a serious tone and in a sense 'geek' doctor. Nevertheless, he fairly overcome his pathetic character to become extreme but turning to a mild one.
In Robert De niro's character as Leonard Lowe, who was contracted with a forgotten illness of 1920's did a great performance. It is likely believable for De Niro's part to be in this character as a patient of this illness. I was moved by his credible act for this movie.
Penny Marshall should also be credited for a wonderful and moving performances of her actors and of course her unique directing gave way the very heart of this film.
The film was dealing with an incurable disease of the 1920s which existed until the 1960's with no medicines that are able to cure them but Dr.Sayer tried to dare himself by experimenting with drugs that can cure basically Parkinson's disease and which is so uncertain also if it cures the disease that Leonard and others has. But lo, everybody 'awakened' from their long sleep. Leonard and the others experienced a short 'awakenings' in their life that particular summer but not for long...the disease came back and no matter how the drugs (that cured them before) prevent this, it is useless. Although the film deals with this disease there is something more incurable disease that revolves around the story or much more, it is the worse disease that humanity have ever contracted...the disease of indifference...
Sayer was right in saying 'We are faced with incurable disease...that is indifference'...The film doesn't focus only on that particular disease but the the disease of indifference also. What makes life more simpler and happier that one cannot find in the facts of science and medicine? That is love and compassion...that makes life so simpler and yet so fulfilling. The joys of life that one can attain and live fully is given by the people we loved dearly and loved us and through this love one can cure the disease of indifference. 'Awakenings' speaks about this...
I definitely recommend this to everyone...of all ages. So that you can find cure by giving your total and unconditioned love for your family and friends as well as others...
5.0 out of 5 stars The Simple Thing's,
Robin Williams plays a realistic, tender, giving person named Doctor Sayer. His innocence and humbleness in the movie is something that baffled me all through my younger years. How could the crazy Robin Williams pull of something so real? Well, I was unknowing to his other accomplishments prior to that time. Movies such as 'Good Morning, Vietnam' and 'Dead Poets Society' had already been added to his filmography. The Robin Williams I knew had only been in movies like Popeye and little show called Mork and Mindy. Since 'Awakenings' he has done amazing performances in both the dramatic, and comedic realms. Soon to be added to his list of talent's is the "Serial Killer" in Insomnia. What an amazing actor. Also see his dramatic acting in 'What Dreams May Come'.
Julie Kavner is someone who I have recently discovered. How could I not have placed her voice with that of Marge Simpson. Well, to put it mildly I had a duck when I put that together. Her list of accomplishments include the honest movie 'This is My Life' and, of course The Simpsons.
Robert Deniro will never (mark my words) be able to top his sacrificial performance as Leonard. Not even his classic and raw character in 'The Deer Hunter' came close to Leonard. From being totally motionless to having his body wracked with the gripping illness, he is totally believable, and never allows the viewer to doubt he isn't for real. The fact that he didn't win an oscar is a tragedy.
Based on Dr Oliver Sack's true life experiences in the late 60's, 'Awakenings' the book is written in chapters titled by the patient's name. Most memorably "Lucy" and "Leonard." It tells of his experiments with the drug "L-dopa" (a synthetic dope) to attack the sickness from a Parkinson's Disease(pärkn-snz) stand-point.
Amidst the powerful words of the movie (so many, of which you must discover on your own) is the amazing musical score by Randy Newman, who righfully won his first oscar in 2003 for best original song. He shows his tallent for creating emotional and entirely unique compositions. This movie has one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. Unfortunately the soundtrack is hard to find.
There are movies, epic's mostly, that people are accustomed to watching over and over. I have seen 'Awakenings' between 50 and 100 times, and with every viewing learn and appreciate something new about life. Penny Marshall's project was bigger than her, bigger than the actors, bigger than the screen. Her insight made it that way. She created something that she will never be able to re-do or re-capture. Though her movies like 'A League of Their Own' and 'Big' are great classics worth owning, the emotional and spiritual depth of 'Awakenings' is something that only It can do. When you watch this, my favorite film, reflect on your own life. How much you have. How much you could loose. This is a learning experience that everyone should own. ~S.A.O.S.~
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Awakenings [Blu-ray] [Import] by Penny Marshall (Blu-ray - 2011)