Awakenings is a 1990 American drama film based on Oliver Sacks' 1973 memoir of the same title. It tells the story of Malcolm Sayer, who, in 1969, discovers beneficial effects of the drug L-Dopa. He administers it to catatonic patients who survived the 1917–28 epidemic of encephalitis lethargica. Leonard Lowe and the rest of the patients are awakened after decades and have to deal with a new life in a new time. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards.
Directed by Penny Marshall, the film was produced by Walter Parkes and Lawrence Lasker, who first encountered Sacks's book as undergraduates at Yale University and optioned it a few years later. Awakenings stars Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Julie Kavner, Ruth Nelson, John Heard, Penelope Ann Miller, and Max von Sydow. The film features a cameo appearance by jazz musician Dexter Gordon (who died before the film's release) and then-unknowns Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Vin Diesel, and Vincent Pastore.