Awakenings-Awakenings Within Movie Essay, Research Paper
Leonard, after 30 years, has been given the chance to live again, with the help of the L. Dopa drug. Awakening after 30 years, Leonard is faced with the fact that he’s lost 30 years of his life. All is revealed when Dr. Sayer photographs Leonard and presents him with a self-portrait. After Leonard’s awakening, he wanted to do so much, so fast. He wanted to be normal, experience relationships, have his freedom, and most importantly, be treated as a human being with dignity. The awakening was overwhelming at first, however, he adjusted to his new life fairly quickly. Leonard, now aged 50, became a living example of the drug’s effects on humans. Dr. Sayer carefully monitored Leonard’s progress, and Leonard began to regress, he insisted that Dr. Sayer continue recording and observing him for scientific research.
Leonard’s first words were, “I’m awake.” He said this with great emotion. He knew he’d been sleeping, but not for as long as it actually was. Before his total awakening, Dr. Sayer spent many hours tending to Leonard, observing that he was like a live animal, trying to escape, that couldn’t break free. This showed his dedication. Dr. Sayer’s scientific research into the L. Dopa drug made possible Leonards ‘awakening.’ He saw this drug as having potential and gave it a try. As the drug was given to Leonard, Dr. Sayer noticed little effect, but this made him more persistent and the dosage was raised. Initially, it was 200mg, and through Dr. Sayer’s persistence, the dosage reached 1000mg, and this produced the amazing result of awakening Leonard.
At first, Leonard was scared of going to sleep with the fear of never waking again. His mother had to sing him to sleep, as she did when he was younger, and unaffected by the neurological effects of the devastating disease encephalitis. As time went on, Leonard wanted independence and the ability to go where he wanted and do whatever he wished, whenever he felt the need. He also wanted to do everything so quickly, as he’d missed out on many opportunities in his vegetable state. His desire for a normal relationship was realised when he met Paula at the hospital when she regularly came to visit her father who was a patient. They talked about life and became good friends.
The whole ‘awakening’ experience was an extremely emotional one. When he first awoke, he felt great confusion. How did he get there? Why was he there? What had happened to him? Once these questions were answered, he experienced extreme joy – “I’m back!” He showed great courage by sleeping with the fear of never waking again. He had trust in his mother, Dr. Sayer, as well as the hospital staff. Love and friendship, both shown by Leonard’s towards Paula, his new friend. As his regression began, he felt sadness as he learnt of his fate and had great courage in allowing Dr. Sayer to record his progress for future reference. As he regressed to his original state, he experienced major frustration as the tremors he experienced as a boy returned, and the loss of co-ordination set in. He was then faced with the fact that he would experience total regression, however, deep down inside, he was proud of his achievements over the past few days/weeks.
The staff too who once showed no interest towards their patients, also experienced an ‘awakening.’ Leonard made them realise that they could help their patients and it wasn’t a waste of time. They began to show compassion, and as they became aware of Leonard’s destiny. They felt for him and the other patients at the hospital. Leonard was given the chance to say goodbye to the people who loved and cared fir him throughout his life.
Leonard’s ‘awakening’ was merely a “second chance at life.” It was a chance for him to try and achieve in a short amount of time what he would have done in a lifetime. He taught ‘normal’ people leading a ‘normal’ life, not to take life for granted and to make the most of opportunities one has, because tomorrow a serious accident may cause brain damage or even death. Leonard was extremely lucky to have this second chance at living, even though it was so short. As mentioned in Dr. Sayer’s speech,”as the chemical window closed, another awakening took place, the human spirit is more powerful than any drug and that s what needs to be nourished, work, play, friendship, family – these are the things that matter. This is what we’ve forgotten – the simplest thing.” This experience was very beneficial, not only for Leonard, but also for Dr. Sayer and the hospital staff. It opened their eyes.