1990  120 MN


Awakenings on IMDb
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Penny Marshall

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.

 Release Date

March 15, 1990


2h0m (120 min)


$ 52,096,475

 Top Billed Cast

 Robert De Niro
 Leonard Lowe
 Robin Williams
 Malcolm Sayer
 John Heard
 Dr. Kaufman
 Julie Kavner
 Eleanor Costello
 Penelope Ann Miller
 Ruth Nelson
 Mrs. Lowe

 Written by

Steven Zaillian Screenplay
Oliver Sacks Book


There is no such thing as a simple miracle.



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


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


 New Quote

You're the one's asleep.
— Leonard Low


I won't see you anymore...
— Leonard Lowe



 New Review

You're the one's asleep
By Jack Anderson on January 23, 2020

Awakenings is a classic feel-good drama. You can see the strings, but you can also see that the intentions are good.

Watching this film knowing that Robin Williams killed himself because he had Parkinson's disease makes the viewing very sad. Apart from that, his duo with Robert De Niro is obviously top notch.

The end of the film is also extremely emotional, when Leonard says "I won't see you anymore..." That was really difficult yet very moving.

What I also liked was the fact that Robin Williams' character was, in a way, also asleep. This is quite a powerful message and talks to all of us. As Leonard tells him at some point: "You're the one's asleep!". Always remember that. Never get asleep.

I give it 7 out of 10. Excellent.


***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.



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