Zjoek (1987)

Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - Netherlands   |  
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Synopsis by Clarke Fountain

This drama focuses on two case studies by the groundbreaking neurologist and cognitive scientist Alexander R. Luria, whose works gave so much impetus to another doctor-writer whose case stories have also served as a basis for films, Oliver Sacks (Awakenings). One of the doctor's patients is a professional memory expert (a mnemonist), a man whose ever-expanding amounts of remembered information can only be organized through the use of skillfully ordered associative techniques (e.g., red is the color of blood, blood runs through the heart, that redhead I just met has the name "Hart," which sounds like heart). When the neurologist takes on the case of a brain-damaged soldier who has lost the ability to speak, the techniques he used to help the mnemonist make sense of his store of data also help the soldier put together the skills needed to speak intelligibly again. Slow-paced and intellectual in its focus, this film is likeliest to be of interest to those already familiar with neurological issues.