Based on a true story as related by neurologist Oliver Sacks, Awakenings stars Robin Williams as the Sacks counterpart, here named Dr. Malcolm Sayer. Something of a klutz and naif, Dr. Sayer takes a job at a Bronx psychiatric hospital in 1969. Here he's put in charge of several seemingly catatonic patients who, under Sayer's painstaking guidance, begin responding to certain stimulati. Apprised of the efficacy of a new drug called L-DOPA in treating degenerative-disease victims, Sayer is given permission to test the drug on one of his patients: Leonard Lowe (Robert De Niro), who has not communicated with anyone since lapsing into catatonia as a child. Gradually, Lowe comes out of his shell, encouraging Sayers to administer L-DOPA to the other patients under his care. Julie Kavner and John Heard also star.
by Hal Erickson synopsis