- 2 hr 1 min
In a small hospital in the Bronx borough of New York City, Dr. Malcolm Sayer, played by Robin Williams, was a devoted physician. A local outbreak created an influx of patents with catatonia, a condition where the patients are psychologically unresponsive and have no control over their movement. After many years of caring for them, Dr. Sayer discovered that if you throw them a ball they will catch it. This may seem insignificant but it was a major breakthrough. He tried many other things to get responses from them. Hearing music and touch seemed the most promising. Robert De Niro played Leonard Lowe, a patient who is unresponsive to most stimuli but who was able to communicate extensively with the doctor through a Oija board. The L-Dopa drug was introduced to Dr. Sayer at a medical conference. It had been used for Parkinson’s sufferers but Dr. Sayer saw potential for it with the catatonic. He first put Leonard Lowe on the medication. To his astonishment, Leonard awakened completely from his catatonia. Dr. Sayer petitioned for funding to have all the patients put on the L-Dopa. Leonard did not skip a beat in rebuilding his life. He became romantically involved with another patient's daughter. Penelope Ann Miller played Paula, the love interest. They spend time together whenever she visited the hospital and become a charming pair. Understandably, Leonard wants to leave the hospital and live a normal life. He fought for his freedom and others who have been awakened joined him. Due to the nature of the L-Dopa trial, they are denied at every turn. His persistence did not fade and even became stronger as others are awakened with him. As his battle with hospital administrators waged on, he starts to develop a facial tic. This spreads into a full body tic. Many patients and doctors tried to ignore these classic signs of returning catatonia. Some came to believe that the L-Dopa drug may not be all that they had hoped. This heart wrenching story will inspire hope and awe for anyone who feels like they are in an impossible situation.