When Oliver Sacks was asked whether he was primarily a doctor or writer his response was, “equally first!”
This insightful documentary details his life from early beginnings. Born in England in 1933 to Jewish parents who were medical professionals, he was separated from his parents during WWII, later found love in chemistry, and moved to America in 1960.
Much of his early life was fraught with unhappiness and confusion. When his mother discovered he was gay she screamed, “You’re an abomination – wish you’d never been born!”
Sacks neglected sleep, healthy eating, and delved into drugs. He was self-destructive and played with death.
Achieving spectacular results with people who experienced neurological disorders, Sacks showed strong empathy towards his patients. He was the best-selling author of compilations of his medical cases but was stonewalled by professionals who claimed he was utilizing his patients to write stories.
Ultimately, he received accolade from the medical world and a film called Awakenings was produced in 1990 starring Robin Williams, based on Sack’s published memoirs.
This is quintessential viewing for movie-goers who have an interest in the medical world. A collage of photographs, filmed footage, and interviews with neurologists, authors, professors, family, and journalists all assimilate to illustrate the life and work of a very remarkable man. (MMo)