Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
As the title suggests, Oliver Sacks: His Own Life is a film that explores the life of neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks, from his troubled youth to his twilight years. These biographical observations are framed by the cancer diagnosis received by the scientist at the time the documentary was recorded, which left him with months to live.
Despite the spectre of mortality looming over the piece, it is at its core a joyous picture that allows the doctor a great deal of agency in his reflections and allows his tale to be told on his own terms. There is a lot of sadness in the story, from childhood trauma in the backdrop of the Blitz to his struggles with homophobia and early self-destructive tendencies – but alongside this there is just as much love and happiness – and the neurologist’s poetic narration weaves a beautiful and diverse tapestry befitting a man as multi-faceted as he was.
Even near the end of his life, Sacks was discovering new things to love about the human experience, and this film is as much a triumphant celebration of life, love and the wonders of being human as it is a biography of a brilliant scientist.
The documentary paints a comprehensive portrait of a complex man, exploring his unique attitudes to neurology and human life as a whole, without anything so pedestrian as a final diagnosis of his worldview. The protagonist’s professional work was marked by a focus on qualitative therapy, of observation and putting the human experience first, and the film follows suit with extensive interviews and archival footage coming together in observance of an individual who defied definition.
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life is a touching celebration of a rich and well-lived life, uncompromising and honest in a way that perfectly represents the scientist, writer and – most importantly – human that changed the world of medicine.
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life is released in select cinemas on 29th September 2021.
Watch the trailer for Oliver Sacks: His Own Life here: