On this page we include reviews of some of our favorite TBI-related films, as well as links to a few sites covering these and other movies.

The most famous brain Injury in Hollywood: The Wizard of Oz

Released: 1939
Genre: Family/fantasy/adventure/musical
Rating: G
Awards: 2 Oscars; best original score, best original song. Nominated for 4 other Oscars: best art direction, best cinematography, best special effects, and best picture. Additionally nominated for Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival

Story line: Dorothy sustains the most famous of all cinematic head injuries when a window hits her on the back of the head during a tornado. She is knocked out and dreams the tornado has swept her away to the magical land of Oz. She embarks on a journey to the Wizard, who can help her return home.

Quotes: "You don't need to be helped anymore -- you have always had the power to go back to Kansas." (Glenda the good witch to Dorothy)

"Anybody can have a brain. That's a mediocre commodity." (The Wizard of Oz to the Scarecrow)

"A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." (The Wizard of Oz to the Tin Man)

Accuracy: While a wonderful family film, this is not the movie to see if you want to learn anything about a head injury. In fact, this movie is a great source of misinformation about TBI. Rarely do people wake up from a prolonged state of unconsciousness due to head injury without a headache or any other symptoms.

Unlike Dorothy's personal growth and revelations upon waking, head-injured people do not awake with instantaneous great insights or as a more harmonious human being. Dorothy wakes up a better, more loving person with strengthened relationships. The fact is that many people with head injury find themselves more isolated than ever. TBI puts an enormous strain on relationships, and it is often the case that marital and other serious relationships decline.

50 First Dates

Released: 2004
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: PG - 13 (crude humor & drug references)

Story line: Lucy is a beautiful young woman who suffers retrograde amnesia from a car accident. For Lucy every date is a first date, as she is unable to formulate new memories after her accident. A young bachelor falls in love with her and is determined to help her remember their first date, first kiss… and much more.

Accuracy: This movie gets it wrong as far as TBI is concerned, but it also gets it right. Extensive damage to the temporal lobe would probably result in difficulty with processing information from vision, touch and hearing, yet Lucy’s only symptom is retrograde amnesia. Another unlikely part to the movie is the family reaction to TBI. Lucy’s family and friends are so vested in keeping her from the real world, that would only confuse her, that they’ve been pretending it’s the same day for an entire year.

What this movie accurately portrays is the terror and confusion Lucy awakes with each day when she rediscovers she has been head injured and has lost the past year of her life. As soon as her family give up the bit, we see a head injured person stuck in the past, a past that no longer exists. The movie does justice to this type of heart rendering suffering.

The movie also introduces audiences to severe memory problems such as the one the character called Ten Second Tom portrays. It seems implausible someone could forget within seconds anything said or done with another person -- yet this is in fact Korsakov’s syndrome.

Post Concussion

Released: 1999
Genre: Indie Feature
Rating: PG-13
Awards: Taos Land Grant award & Best Feature Film Taos Film Festival 2000

Story line: A young San Francisco management consultant is struck by a car & sustains a serious concussion. Due to severe post concussion syndrome, he is terminated by his employer and dumped by his girlfriend. He is left to rediscover himself, his family, and the meaning of true friendship.

Accuracy: Highly accurate account of TBI. The filmmaker wrote, shot, and edited the film after he was struck by a car and suffered a severe post-concussive syndrome. The film does an excellent job of taking the viewer into a day-in-the-life account of coping with TBI. The viewer is shown neuropsychological exams, battles with insurance companies to receive disability, and botched attempts at healing via complimentary medicine.

The film also illustrates many symptoms TBI survivors suffer, such as headaches, confusion, nightmares, memory lapses, inattention, troubled speech, inappropriate behavior, mood swings, and difficulty with visual processing.

Post Concussion is an affirming film that acknowledges and gives justice to the experience and aftermath of head injury. For more on the film and the filmmakers' back-story go to bluewaterfilms.com.

Finding Nemo

Released:: 2003
Genre: Animated Feature
Rating: G

Story line: Timid father journeys to find his lost son. Accompanied by Dory, a fish with short-term memory loss (retrograde amnesia).

Quotes:"I think I lost somebody, but I can’t remember." (Dory)

Accuracy: Accurate account of TBI and retrograde amnesia. Dory cannot learn or retain new information. Dory cannot recall names, where she is going or what she is doing.

Finding Nemo portrays the frustration others may feel when dealing with TBI deficits. It also portrays others' acceptance of those with memory loss and the positive contributions the latter have to offer.

At the worst times Dory is lost, alone and confused. In the best times Dory is eternally present, exuberant and fearless.

Memento

Released: 2002
Genre: Thriller
Rating: R (Violence)

Story line: A man suffering from TBI and subsequent severe anterograde amnesia uses notes and tattoos to hunt down his wife’s killer.

Quotes: "I use habit and routine to make my life possible." (Leonard)

"I have to believe my actions still have meaning, even if I can’t remember them." (Leonard)

Accuracy: Very accurate portrayal of memory loss due to TBI. Additionally the film addresses anger, guilt (depression) and confusion commonly experienced after brain injury.

Further, this film accurately portrays how others often take advantage of persons suffering from brain injury.

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