It’s time for another true story and one that is just as sad. This one is about a group of people who suffered from encephalitis lethargica. This is essentially a form of coma where the patient is technically alive, but just barely. They are almost completely immobile and brain functions are down to nearly 0%. They are essentially trapped within their own bodies and may not even be aware of what is going on around them. It’s quite close to being in a state of death and there had been no cure for it. A doctor decides to try administering higher doses of the L Dopa drug to see if it would help the patients get better. It helps a little in the short term, but ultimately the bodies become immune to it and shut down once more.
Part of what makes this film so tragic is that the patients know that it is only temporary after they see the first one revert back to normal. It’s like being given a second chance at life only to suddenly be told that you actually only have 2 days before you revert. It really ends the celebration abruptly and as there is nothing that can be done about it, the patients simply have to accept it. It’s emotionally taxing not just on the individuals, but on their families as well. It’s just a very sad film. At least they were given a chance to live a little thanks to the doctor though. Getting a few days to talk with your family after being immobile for over a decade is nothing to sneeze at and while L Dopa was not a permanent solution, I like to think that it got scientists closer to getting a full cure. Unfortunately, there is still no permanent cure once it is serious enough. I’d need to give the Wikipedia page a deeper read, but it sounds like it is a condition that is still relatively incurable. It’s always a shame to see that we’re in 2017, but there are still so many illnesses which cannot be treated completely. Science can never know everything, but it would be great if we could make some real progress. It feels like a long time since there have been any major breakthroughs.
It’s definitely a film that is pretty hard to watch if you’re not a fan of somber titles. I avoid sad films on principle because I watch movies to just have fun and relax for a while. This film is certainly not relaxing, but it’s good for these issues to get more exposure. Even if it’s not my idea of a fun time, if it gets more people to donate to the cause then it’s worth it. It doesn’t add anything like animal violence or unnecessary subplots and mostly plays it straight. There is a very tragic romance that takes place with one of the patients that makes the whole thing a little more sad though. It’s yet another time where I would have preferred if they hadn’t added this angle into the film.
This film can also let you appreciate how tough some people have it and make your own troubles not seem as bad. Everyone has challenges and trials in their lives. No matter how perfect a life can look from afar, you can be absolutely certain that the individual has gone through some trials and likely has more to go. I don’t believe that anyone ever runs out of challenges as they will pop up at some point or another. Some people may just be strong enough where they can handle their challenges really well. If you have complete faith in God and are always communicating to him, it stands to reason that you would handle a challenge a lot better than the next person, but it will still be there. Your life can always be tougher so be grateful for your current situation and pray for those who seem like they have a hard struggle at the moment. Praying for this illness to be curable someday is something that only takes a minute, but can help ignite some miracles. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be blind or deaf, let alone being completely paralyzed and losing all 5 senses. It’s a very dark fate and one that will hopefully not be with us for too much longer. I am confident that while we may not be able to completely eradicate every illness, that we can get most of them. Cures that may seem like science fiction now can become practical in the future so never count anything out. One way or the other, there is always hope in even the bleakest of circumstances.
Overall, Awakenings is certainly one of the sadder movies that you’ll see. The Awakenings were very brief and it shows how quickly strong feelings of joy can turn back to sadness. Sometimes it can feel even worse to get a brief glimpse of hope only to have it taken away than to have never seen it at all. While it can be easy to get that mindset, you have to grab the good while you can. Think of the possibility that maybe some of these people got to say their final good byes, become Christians, or take care of other unfinished business before going back into coma. Then the few minutes were certainly well worth it and some patients did have days or maybe even a week or two. If you want to learn more about the story then this movie is informative enough for your purposes. Honestly, I think it would be a lot easier to read the book version or just study online, but supporting the movie is also good for awareness so whatever you’re comfortable with should be your priority.