Movie Character with Dementia Scores Well-Deserved Oscar Win
Hollywood has created many films featuring characters with heart-breaking diseases, which society struggled with at the time. In recent memory, one of the most popularly dramatized illnesses was HIV/AIDS. Several great movies were made on the subject, such as “Philadelphia” starring Tom Hanks.
Today, dementia has become a global health crisis, afflicting 50 million people. So why don’t we see more movie characters with dementia?
Dementia refers to cognitive decline resulting from brain damage. It’s tough to present on-screen because, unlike other diseases, the damage is internal. No make-up or CGI can help portray dementia. It requires pure acting chops. That’s why we haven’t seen many movies on this difficult subject.
Not many doesn’t mean not any. This year, 82-year-old actor Sir Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar depicting a man with dementia. Let’s walk through some of the main reasons why this film is so significant.
The Father was directed by the talented Florian Ziller, who adapted it from a play.
The story centers on an older man who denies his dementia. We see him struggling with his failing memory and how it affects his daughter. This is one of the most poignant aspects of the film. Many of us don’t understand why people choose to put their elderly family members in nursing homes. This film vividly portrays the stress dementia puts on loved ones and how the disease strains relationships. In the end, we develop sympathy for both sides.
The film is not your usual Oscar bait. Instead, it has been described as complex, using various artistic elements to depict dementia. For example:
- To help the audience experience mental decline, sets are altered throughout the film in subtle ways. Multiple furniture shifts and color changes impart a general sense of nothing-is-as-it-seems.
- The film also features several purposeful inconsistencies. For instance, different actors play multiple characters throughout the film, furthering the feeling of confusion experienced by patients with dementia.
The Academy Award — or Oscar — is the highest honor in the film industry. First awarded in 1929, Oscar is a seal of excellence. Anthony Hopkins is no stranger to the Academy Awards. He’s been nominated six times and won his first Oscar portraying Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs.
When Sir Anthony Hopkins won this Oscar, he became the oldest actor to receive the top honor – A victory for seasoned adults everywhere. It also personalized a disease that has silently plagued millions for centuries.
The screen legend deserves the golden trophy! Sir Anthony poured his heart into the role. Reports say that he was so worked up in one climactic scene that he broke down and cried.
Sir Anthony Hopkins’ lastest win marks a crucial moment for brain-health awareness. The movie only made 8.9 million dollars in its studio run — not exactly a blockbuster. While the film was loved by people who saw it, the problem is, not many people did.
The Oscar win attracts more attention, and hopefully, many more people will see the film. Increased viewership could mean more people recognizing the importance of brain health. And hopefully, this subject is discussed more openly and often in our homes, media, and society, which so often celebrates youth.
Facts About Dementia
The alarming truth is, we often think about brain health when someone is approaching the late phase of their life. But in fact, brain care should be a top priority even in early adulthood. Why? Because early preventive care is the best way to ward off Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of neurodegenerative disease. Six million people in the U.S. have the condition. An additional 12 million have Minimum Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
A third of these people can work to improve their condition, while a third will remain in their state of MCI. The last third will rapidly decline to dementia.
Research shows the onset of Alzheimer’s can be slowed or prevented with lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise, jobs, quitting smoking, etc.
It’s important to note that the early stages of dementia symptoms overlap with typical signs of aging. So just because someone is slowing down a bit in their mental faculties doesn’t mean they have dementia.
However, if a person starts to experience significant forgetfulness, it’s a sign that shouldn’t be ignored. It could be as simple as forgetting where your watch is or as significant as not remembering your daughter has been in a major accident (spoiler alert – both are examples from the film).
As depicted in “The Father”, many people take pride in their mental faculties. It may be challenging for somebody to admit that their brain is deteriorating, and you may encounter resistance from them when you try to help them.
What We Can Do
Our mission at Amprion is to raise awareness about brain health. We believe that helping people catch these afflictions early can significantly increase their quality of life.
In knowledge, there’s power, even in something as intimidating as neurodegenerative disease. Learn the Top 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease to better recognize the early symptoms for loved ones.
Unfortunately, brain diseases are hard to diagnose. As explained earlier, the symptoms can overlap with the signs of aging. The symptoms can also overlap with other common neurodegenerative disorders like Lewy Body Dementia (LBD).
While we’re focused on science and news related to brain health, we will take all the help we can get. The arts have a unique way of penetrating hearts.
If enough people have intense experiences with dementia through art, they may just be inspired to make a difference. After all, dementia affects everyone directly or indirectly.
Why We Need Art About Dementia
We believe that many ailments the elderly face put them at a disadvantage that needs to be considered. Art about dementia will inspire more conversations about this difficult subject.
When we talk, we come together, and we find solutions.
The Father’s Oscar win is a win for older adults everywhere. Moreover, it represents many people in the mainstream now taking seriously an issue that has been ignored too long.
A Positive Step Forward
It is worth celebrating when Hollywood puts out meaningful films about diseases. Look at the impact of such films on the disease itself, for example, HIV/AIDS.
Those films brought social focus, raised awareness, and rallied research, resources, and science to create cures.
And that’s what happened with HIV. We found a cure for AIDs.
We believe the same thing can happen with dementia. By raising awareness for neurodegenerative diseases, we will soon find a cure.
This is the new frontier in brain health. For the first time in history, we now have biomarker testing for early brain disease detection.
Learn more about this exciting development here.