Picture from Awakenings
Overall B+

Leonard Lowe (Robert De Niro) is a middle-aged man who has been in a coma since he contracted encephalitis lethargica as a child. When Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) is made responsible for his care, the man of medicine begins experimenting with different options that may help to awaken Leonard (and others suffering from the same malady) from a decades long sleep. This movie is based on a true story.

Violence B
Sexual Content A-
Profanity D+
Substance Use B-

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Talk to your kids about…


Accurately depicting medical procedures and results doesn’t always happen (ask any nurse who works in an emergency room about current medical dramas). How true to life do you think Awakenings is? How difficult would it be for patients to go out dancing after being mostly wheelchair or bed bound for years? Would it take time to regain their ability to talk?

What would you find the most difficult to deal with if you awakened out of a comatose state after many years? Would you mourn lost youth? The changes in your family? Or be uncomfortable with advancements and changes in the world?

How does Leonard’s mother feel about having her son receive the drug therapy? Are her fears realistic? Would you be willing to participate in experimental drug therapy? Was Leonard’s awakening a positive or negative event for his mother?

How do staff members treat the patients differently after their awakening?

This movie is based on a true story. Learn more about Dr. Oliver Sacks, the man who inspired Robin Williams character, the book the movie is based on and encephalitis lethargica.

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Teddy's final good-bye is tender and touching and all the more poignant in light of Williams' death.