The time it was about Oliver Sacks: His Own Life

Posted November 9, 2020 by Stacee in Movies | 2 Comments

When I got the invite to watch a press release for the documentary about Oliver Sacks, I was so excited.  I’ve been a fan of Dr. Sacks and his writing for a long long long time and had no idea there was going to be a movie about his life.

Understandably, neurology might not be a topic for everyone, but Dr. Sacks had a way of sharing his case studies and findings in a compelling way.

Title: Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Director: Ric Burns
Format: Blu-ray, DVD
Time: 114 minutes
Release date: September 23, 2020
Distributor: Zeitgeist Films

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life explores the life and work of the legendary neurologist and storyteller, as he shares intimate details of his battles with drug addiction, homophobia, and a medical establishment that accepted his work only decades after the fact. Sacks, known for his literary works Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, was a fearless explorer of unknown cognitive worlds who helped redefine our understanding of the brain and mind, the diversity of human experience, and our shared humanity.

The film features exclusive interviews with Sacks conducted just weeks after he received a terminal diagnosis, and months prior to his death in August 2015, and nearly two dozen deeply revealing and personal interviews with family members, colleagues, patients, and close friends. The film also draws on unique access to the extensive archives from the Oliver Sacks Foundation.

Cast: Oliver Sacks, Jonathan Miller, Robert Silvers, Temple Grandin, Christof Koch, Robert Krulwich, Lawrence Weschler, Roberto Calasso, Paul Theroux, Bill Hayes, Kate Edgar, and Atul Gawande

Before we get to my top 5 reasons to watch, let’s check out the trailer:

Top 5 reasons to watch Oliver Sacks: His Own Life:

“Much of my life has been spent trying to imagine what is is like to be another sentient being.”

  • the outline — the way the story is unfolded is perfection: we see Dr. Sacks in 2015 and then the narrative tells his story starting at childhood.  As things progress, 2015 Dr. Sacks interjects with commentary.
  • the accessibility — he was so open with his struggles, his family, his sexuality and I didn’t expect such candor
  • the humility — for someone so accomplished, he was so so humble and quite silly
  • the periodic table — this will make more sense when the movie is seen, but Dr. Sacks had a huge love for the table. Not only did he carry a copy in his wallet, but it was often seen in the background in various shots. He would get elements that correlated to the age of his birthday and stated “If you doubt reality, drop some tungsten on your foot.”
  • the impact — it was stated that Columbia University shared that 70% of neurology students mention Oliver Sacks as the reason they want to study

Huge thanks to Zeitgeist Films for the invite. Oliver Sacks: His Own Life is out now in digital theaters.

Do you watch documentaries? Have you read anything from Dr. Sacks?

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2 responses to “The time it was about Oliver Sacks: His Own Life

  1. Thanks for the heads up on this! I was only familiar with the movie Awakenings; which destroyed me. We were taking my son to the circus and I was in on our bed sobbing over the ending three hours after we had finished watching it. I remember for two or three weeks later I would randomly think about the movie and start crying again. ?

    All of this is right up my alley. ???✨

    • Stacee

      Hooray!! I hope you love it. And if you’re looking to read some of his studies, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat was the first one I read and has stuck with me for a million years.


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