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Awakenings is a 1990 American drama film based on Oliver Sacks's 1973 memoir of the same title. It tells the story of a fictional character, neurologist Dr. Malcolm Sayer, who is based on Sacks and played by Robin Williams. In 1969, he discovered beneficial effects of the drug L-Dopa. He administers it to catatonic patients who had survived the 1917–28 epidemic of encephalitis lethargica. Leonard Lowe (played by Robert de Niro) and the rest of the patients are awakened after decades and have to deal with a new life in a new time. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Plot

In 1969, Dr. Malcolm Sayer (Robin Williams) is a dedicated and caring physician at a local hospital in the Bronx borough of New York City. After working extensively with the catatonic patients who survived the 1917–1928 epidemic of encephalitis lethargica, Sayer discovers certain stimuli will reach beyond the patients' respective catatonic states; actions such as catching a ball, hearing familiar music, being called by their name, and enjoying human touch, all have unique effects on particular patients and offer a glimpse into their worlds. Leonard Lowe (Robert De Niro) seems to remain removed, but Sayer learns that Leonard is able to communicate with him by using an Ouija board.

Awards