Inspired by Oliver Sacks

Feature Films

Oliver Sacks: His Own Life

A feature documentary by award-winning writer and director Ric Burns, celebrating the life of Oliver Sacks. Oliver Sacks: His Own Life explores the riveting and profoundly moving life and work of this unique figure—an old-fashioned polymath and natural historian of the 19th century sort who redefined our 21st century understanding of brain and mind. Stream the Oliver Sacks documentary now!

The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks (in production)

The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks is a journey into the mind and work of world-renowned neurologist and author Oliver Sacks. Filmmaker Dempsey Rice’s decade of interviews with Oliver combine with animation, archival material and cinematic new filming, to take this film beyond conventional biography and into Oliver’s mind and world.


Feature film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, Julie Kavner and John Heard. Produced by Walter Parkes and Larry Lasker, directed by Penny Marshall, screenplay by Steven Zaillian. Released December 1990 by Columbia Pictures. Awakening was nominated for three Academy Awards. Received the 1991 Scriptor Award. More info herestream Awakenings now.

At First Sight

A feature film based on “To See or Not See,” a clinical tale in An Anthropologist on Mars. Starring Val Kilmer, Mira Sorvino, Bruce Davidson, Nathan Lane, Kelly McGillis, and Steven Weber. Screenplay by Steve Leavitt and Rob Cowan. Produced by Rob Cowan. Directed and Produced by Irwin Winkler. Released by MGM, January 1999. More info here.

The Music Never Stopped

An independent feature film based on “The Last Hippie,” a story in An Anthropologist on Mars. Starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Julia Ormond, J.K. Simmons, and Cara Seymour. Directed by Jim Kohlberg, from a script by Gwyn Lurie and Gary Marks. Chosen to premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival. Opening in theaters in March 2011. More info here.

Documentary Films / Podcasts / Other Projects

Radiant Minds: The World of Oliver Sacks (Podcast)

Hosted by neuroscientist Indre Viskontas, this nine-part original podcast series from Audible tells the story of the human brain one person at a time. Drawing inspiration from the work of best-selling author Oliver Sacks, each installment introduces listeners to a world of scientific wonder: stories of incredible resilience in the face of life-altering neurological conditions and the powers of the human brain we often take for granted. Listen to the Radiant Minds podcast now.

Awakenings (Opera)

An opera composed by Tobias Picker, libretto by Aryeh Stollman based on the book Awakenings by best-selling author Oliver Sacks. See upcoming performance dates.

Awakenings (Ballet)

A ballet composed by Tobias Picker and choreographed by Aletta Collins for the Rambert dance company. Premiered in Manchester, England, September 2010. Learn more.

Musical Minds

One-hour NOVA documentary on music therapy, produced by Ryan Murdock. Originally broadcast June, 23 2009 on PBS stations. Based on the 2008 BBC documentary by Alan Yentob and Louise Lockwood. This version has additional footage, including fMRI images of Dr. Sacks’s brain as he listens to music.

Oliver Sacks: Tales of Music and the Brain

One-hour BBC One documentary on music therapy as part of Alan Yentob’s “Imagine” series. Produced by Louise Lockwood and originally broadcast June 3, 2008.

The Mind Traveler

US broadcast. Four-part PBS series by Rosetta Pictures. Christopher Rawlence, producer and director; Emma Crichton-Miller, co-producer. Episodes on “The Ragin’ Cajun” (on a deaf-blind community in Seattle); “Island of the Colorblind” (on color and colorblindness in a small Pacific atoll); “Rage for Order” (on an autistic artist, Jessy Park); and “Don’t be Shy, Mr. Sacks” (on Williams syndrome), September 1998.

U.K. Broadcast. Six-part BBC series by Rosetta Pictures. Christopher Rawlence, producer and director; Emma Crichton-Miller, co-producer. September 1996. In addition to the episodes listed above, the U.K. broadcast included “Poison in Paradise” (a mysterious neurological disease on the island of Guam) and “Shane” (an artist withTourette Syndrome).

A Glorious Accident

A documentary for VPRO by Wim Kayzer, first aired in the Netherlands in 1993 and on PBS stations in the United States in 1994. More info.

Featuring Oliver Sacks, Stephen Jay Gould, Freeman Dyson, Rupert Sheldrake, Steven Toulmin and Daniel Dennett. From the New York Times: “Holland has only 15 million people, and one million of them watched some or all of “A Glorious Accident,” a rating usually reserved for sitcoms and dramas. A book based on the series was No. 1 on the Dutch best-seller list for months. For the final episode, 12 percent of the adult population tuned in, and the next day some universities closed to give people time to ponder the experience.”

In Search of Lucy Doe

One-hour documentary on languagelessness, produced for Arte TV, France by Rosetta Pictures. Produced and directed by Christopher Rawlence; co-producer by Emma Crichton-Miller. First broadcast by Arte TV, November 1996. (This film is not currently available.)

A Change in Mind

A documentary about a man with Tourette’s Syndrome. Produced by Duncan Dallas, Yorkshire Television, 1978. (This film is not currently available.)

Stage Adaptations

A Kind of Alaska

A one-act play by Harold Pinter, based on Awakenings by author Oliver Sacks . Performed in “Other Places” at National Theatre (Cottesloe), London, Oct. 1982 with Judi Dench, Paul Rogers, & Anna Massey. Directed by Peter Hall.

US Premiere at The Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City, April 1984 with Dianne Wiest, Henderson Forsythe, & Caroline Lagerfelt. Directed by Alan Schneider.


Adapted by Arnold Aprill for a stage reading at City Lit Theater Company, Chicago, Sept. 10, 1987.


Adapted by John Reeves for a dramatic reading, CBC Radio, 1986.


A one-act play by Peter Barnes, adapted from “Witty Ticcy Ray.”

The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat

A one-act opera adapted by Michael Morris, music by Michael Nyman, based on author Oliver Sacks’s critically-acclaimed book. Produced and libretto by Christopher Rawlence. First performed at the Inst. of Contemporary Arts, London, Oct. 30, 1986. U.S. Premiere at the American Music Theater Festival, Philadelphia, Sept. 30, 1987.
Performed at Lincoln Center Theater, New York City, July 14, 1988.

The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat

Filmed version of the opera.

L’homme Qui…

Theatrical production by Peter Brook, inspired by author Oliver Sacks’s The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. First production at the Theatre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, 1993; English version, “The Man Who…,” first performed at the National Theatre, 1994 and 1995; Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1995; and elsewhere.

Molly Sweeney

A play by Brian Friel inspired in part by “To See and Not See,” a clinical tale in An Anthropologist on Mars. World premiere Gate Theatre, Dublin, August 1994, with Catherine Byrne, Mark Lambert, and T. P. McKenna; U.S. debut January 1996, Roundabout Theater, with Catherine Byrne, Jason Robards, and Alfred Molina.