Author Topic: Top 5 Autism Movies  (Read 143 times)

DarkeningHumour

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Top 5 Autism Movies
« on: May 16, 2017, 03:56:23 AM »
I was thinking about how oldkid was glad to see a protagonist who was on the spectrum after he watched Harry Potter: Not Harry Potter last year. I felt that if that was supposed to be a portrayal of a main character with autism it was a rather poor one. On the other hand, it's not like we have that many of them, at least to my knowledge. My hope was that there would be at least five movies that dealt better with autism, and that they would not have to all be documentaries.

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MartinTeller

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Re: Top 5 Autism Movies
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2017, 09:51:54 AM »
My top 5 movies with the "autism" keyword on IMDb:

1. The Aviator
2. American Splendor
3. Sling Blade
4. Being There
5. Elle s'appelle Sabine

As I recall, none of the first four ever explicitly say their protagonists are autistic, and the fifth one is a documentary.

(technically, Deliverance was in the #5 spot but it's crazy to call that a movie about autism)

DarkeningHumour

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Re: Top 5 Autism Movies
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2017, 12:45:48 PM »
I wouldn't call Mr. Chance autistic. That's not what the movie is doing. Nor was Howard Hughes. He was certainly not neuro-typical, but that had nothing to do with autism.

Don't know the others.
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oldkid

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Re: Top 5 Autism Movies
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2017, 12:47:30 PM »
Technically, we'd call it Autistic Spectrum Disorder, because when people think "autism" they are considering a much more extreme, unable-to-function issue, and to say ASD would be to include Asperger's Syndrome and other issues as well.  No one is diagnosed with "Autism" anymore.  This is why Mr. Chance and Howard Hughes might not be classically "autistic", they are certainly on the spectrum.

I was mentioning about Fantastic Beasts that I loved the main protagonist partly because he was autistic and he is functional.  It was like watching one of my kids a number of years down the road, and my kids loved the movie because the portrayal was so recognizable.   It's easy to make a character sympathetic because they have some clear deficiencies, but I think Fantastic Beasts does a great job of showing an autistic character who is interesting and watchable. I think that most people think of him as dull because they don't recognize that he is on the spectrum.  However, Fantastic Beasts is far from a movie about autism.  That is incidental.  There are some great performances and stories that have autism front and center.


1. Lars and the Real Girl
2. Being There
3. Temple Grandin
4, Sling Blade
3. Punch-Drunk Love

HM: My Name is Khan, Guardians of the Galaxy (Draxx is on the spectrum), The Imitation Game, and, yes, Rainman.

I'm looking forward to Life, Animated.


A note on the TV series Parenthood, which has a kid with Asperger's Syndrome.  The portrayal is amazing good, but the overly dramatic "tragedy" of parents having a child diagnosed with this is disgusting.


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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Top 5 Autism Movies
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2017, 01:10:03 PM »
I was including Asperger's when I used the term autism. In fact, I was including the entire spectrum. I might have the nomenclature wrong, but I thought that was not an incorrect synecdoche (a word that my spellchecker apparently does not recognize, hmm...).

That said, I must nitpick.

When I said Chance was not autistic, or on the spectrum, it was because, while he exhibited similar behaviour to one who might be, his nature as it relates to his role in the movie is more akin to a fairy-like being who effortlessly floats his way through life, oblivious to everything but somehow managing to spread joy like so much fairy dust. Not to mention the ending.

Draxx is not on the spectrum because the spectrum relates to human neurology, and not to be specie-ist, but Draxx is not a human. He could be the poster child for normal neurology where he's from.

Howard Hughes was a victim of severe OCD, at least in the movie. He does not exhibit the social impairments associated with autism. I realise that people who suffer from Asperger's and such are also prone to OCD behaviour, but as the movie begins Hughes is fully functional and behaves like a neuro-typical person in all things. He doesn't struggle with body language or physical contact. He slowly progresses into something that could be described as mania.
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1SO

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Re: Top 5 Autism Movies
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2017, 01:33:15 PM »
1. Temple Grandin
2. Mary and Max
3. Ben X
4. Adam (2009)
5. Mozart and the Whale


My wife is a high-functioning Autistic, so there are a lot of times where she sees characters like Drax or Newt Scamander as positive portrayals of Autistics even though she understands they're not really Autistic. They just capture the condition better than The Accountant, whose Autism superpowers him like Donnie Yen's blindness in Rogue One.

Adam and Mozart mean well, but the films are looking at them from the outside, under the microscope, and they're only as Autistic as the stories can have them. When the stakes are high, they seem to easily shake off their condition. Ben X captures the uncomfortable disconnect and confusion of Autism a little too well, but in the final act, Ben's actions become completely unbelievable. The first two are what you're looking for with no reservations or apologies.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Top 5 Autism Movies
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2017, 02:16:10 PM »
Oh yea, Ben X was really good.

oldkid

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Re: Top 5 Autism Movies
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2017, 02:50:52 PM »
DH, it seems that your interpretation of Being There is different than my view of the film.  My view, from the time I saw it as a pre-teen, is that Chance has a disability, but everyone is treating it as an ability, which is the road to the presidency (which feels strangely applicable).  As I grew more aware, I see that Chance's social disability is equivalent to being on the spectrum.   Interpret the film as you like, but that interpretation is not inherent to the film, and it does not inform me how I understand the film.

Daxx is a non-human, it is true.  But he is also a character written by humans and his person or race would be associated with being on the spectrum.  I think the idea of a race of people on the spectrum fascinating and would love to see a race of Daxx's and am curious as to how that society might work.  On the other hand, in a few hundred years that may very well be what we see humanity become, who knows?
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Top 5 Autism Movies
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2017, 03:20:57 PM »
You must admit that the end of the movie does suggest a magical realism interpretation though.
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oldkid

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Re: Top 5 Autism Movies
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2017, 04:08:42 PM »
I always understood that scene to indicate that he is type of Christ.  Walking on water is pretty specific.
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