Hollywood and Autism

Hollywood is the biggest dream factory of the world. Besides producing big budget blockbusters, it has also made sensitive human dramas that often feature the less fortunate class of the society. Though not in big numbers, films on autism or where an autistic person is a major character, have been made fairly regularly in Hollywood. Here are some of them.

I Am Sam (1998)

Starring: Dakota Fanning, Sean Penn, Michele Pfeiffer

This was the story of an autistic man living all by himself and functioning well in a real world. His life changes drastically when he becomes a father and has to tend the child single-handed.

Temple Grandin (2010)

Starring: Julia Ormond, Claire Danes

Temple Grandin is a moving story of a young woman's determination and perseverance while at the same time, struggling with the challenges of autism. The film is set in the times when much about autism was still unknown. The film tells about Temple's autism diagnosis, the disturbed growth and turbulent times through school, the wholehearted support she got from her mother, aunt and the science teacher. The film chronicles Temple's emergence as a woman who is sensitive and understanding towards animals.

Rain Man (1988)

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman, Valeria Golino

Perhaps the most famous of all films on autism, Rain Man was almost epochal. A car salesman returns home soon after learning that his father has died. The father left a huge sum of money to Raymond, his autistic brother. Raymond was sent to rehab soon after his mother's death because of fears that he may harm his younger brother. Throughout the film, Raymond (Hoffman) displays multiple autistic traits, though it's never stated that he is an autistic. He has autism savants, rocking, and often inflicts self-injuries. During a cross country road trip, the younger brother (Cruise) gets to know and bonds with his brother.

Mozart and the Whale (2005)

Starring: Radha Mitchell, Josh Hartnett

A heart touching love story of two persons having Asperger's syndrome and the social disparities that infringe their relationship. The film is inspired by the relationship of Mary and Jerry Newport.

The Boy Who Could Fly (1986)

Starring: Lucy Deakins, Jay Underwood, Fred Savage, Louise Fletcher Fred Gwynne, Colleen Dewhurst

A teenager, after the death of his parents in an air crash, is sent to live with his uncle. He exhibits several autistic symptoms, like lack of proper speech, social withdrawal, and typical autistic behavior. A girl in the neighborhood befriends the teenager. First she becomes his friend, and later, his tutor. After much interaction between the two, the boy becomes aware of the people around him and begins to show emotions. But he is soon sent to an institution because of his uncle's alcohol problems.

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