Awakenings is a 1990 film based on British neurologist Oliver Sack’s 1973 memoir, directed by Penny Marshall. In 1969 the doctor discovered the beneficial effects of the drug L-Dopa when administered to catatonic patients who survived the 1916-28 encephalitis lethargica epidemic. Leonard Lowe and the rest of the patients were awakened after decades of catatonia and have to deal with a new life in a new time.
Robert DeNiro plays Leonard Lowe, one of the patients. After a trial run with L-Dopa produces astounding results with Leonard, it is administered to the rest of the catatonic patients.
Robert DeNiro was nominated for Best Actor for this role. In my opinion, he should have won. He did a remarkable job of bringing Leonard Lowe to life. Through his portrayal, we see the despair and isolation of his condition, and the attitude of wonder he adopts when awakened. We watch his struggle to relearn, his fight to find a place in the world, and the heartbreaking realization that the miracle is only temporary. It will probably move you to tears, but it is a poignant movie that has a lesson for everyone. Enjoy the wonder of living. Learn to appreciate every moment.