“It’s a fucking miracle!”

I don’t know if there is another movie that is so moving and inspiring, and touches so many important philosophical aspects such as the meaning of life and work, the relation between body and mind, the ethics of life and death (or waking and sleeping), and the question of conscience and unconscious, etc.

This movie is the 1990 movie Awakenings, with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro as the leading actors.

I first watched it in 2005, the first year when I started the PhD study, and my advisor showed me this movie, obviously with the good intention of arousing curiosity and passion for neuroscience in me. My English was not that good that time, but it did not need much language to understand the story and feel the emotions of the roles. I was deeply touched at that time.

Years later, I read the booked on which the movie was based, Dr. Oliver Sacks’ Awakenings, a collection of stories about his work in the 1969 summer involving a group of severely mentally damaged patients. They were great stories, but the way Dr. Sacks told them was a little overacted and too wordy. So I skipped probably one or two chapters. I do think I grasped something important from the book, about the powers of love, family, music, and work, powers that could awake individuals in deep sleep, with some help from a good doctor and a transformative drug.

It’s 8 years since I first watched the movie. Tonight, I was again deeply touched by the movie. More than one times my eyes became wet, and in other times I laughed my heart out. One line can be used to summarize my feeling of the story: “it’s a fucking miracle!”

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