Monday, January 18, 2010

#387: Rain Man (1988)

Director: Barry Levinson
Cast: Dustin Hoffman & Tom Cruise

Charlie Babbitt, the money-hungry yuppie car dealer from L.A. has absolutely no reaction when he gets the news that his wealthy father has died. What does get an emotion out of him is that the father has given all of his money to Raymond – a brother that Charlie never knew he had. What makes it worse for Charlie – Raymond is retarded.

Of course, as you all know, what Charlie understands in the beginning is nowhere near the truth. Charlie learns throughout the film what it means to be an autistic savant. Hoffman puts on a stellar performance, possibly the best of his career, portraying a man in a world of his own. Watching him makes you wonder what is going on behind those vacant eyes of his, but only the smallest bits of information come out of his mouth. Despite this handicap, Hoffman says so much.

The film caused a great shift in public knowledge of autism, though not necessarily bringing it a step closer to truth. Like Charlie, before this film was released, a great many people did not distinguish autism from mental retardation. After the film, however, the view of autism has gone in the opposite direction. It is often assumed that all autistics are savants, not only thanks to Rain Man, but also thanks to all of the parodies that this film has spurred.

This one’s all about Dustin Hoffman. Amazing performance.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):

  • The script originally had Raymond as happy and friendly, but after an initial reading Dustin Hoffman successfully lobbied for Raymond to be a withdrawn autistic.
  • The scene in the airport was cut by most airlines on their plane trips... except Qantas. They even promoted one of the movie's writers to first class once when he traveled on their airline.
  • During the shooting of the casino scenes, Dustin Hoffman would go off and play games like blackjack. After production was halted to look for him, someone was assigned to watch him during takes.
  • Barry Levinson specifically instructed composer Hans Zimmer to avoid strings in his score as he felt it would make the film too sentimental

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