FILM REVIEW | Oliver Sacks: His Own Life – A life well-lived
The late Oliver Sacks was a very fascinating man. Learn more about him in the upcoming documentary Oliver Sacks: His Own Life.
Sacks was not just a scientist and neurologist, he also wrote dozens and dozens of books including best sellers, was a master in his field, greatly respected, became a celebrity later in life, and he was also gay.
Sacks grew up in an upper-middle-class family in Cricklewood, London. Both his parents were doctors – so it was almost a natural that he’d be a doctor. But it wasn’t until his older brother Michael was diagnosed schizophrenic, an illness that affected the whole family but Oliver more so, that Sacks future was sealed. Going to medical school in Oxford, then to America where he took up residency in San Francisco is when his true self came out – a man with a motorbike dressed in head to toe leather. But while he was taking care of patients with severe neurological issues (stunning footage shows him with patients with neurological diseases and oddities) – Sacks never really found love or romance. His mother vehemently objected to his homosexuality but she also turned into a champion of his while he spent a summer writing a book at his childhood home. But her death affected him greatly, and after he turned 40 he remained celibate for the next 35 years.
Quite a bit of footage of Sacks is of him in his West Village apartment surrounded by staff, friends, etc. His personality comes through in these moments like a bright red sunset – with his charming laugh, unique British accent and sparkle in his eye that will win you over. He won Bill Hayes over – at age 75 Sacks and Hayes (20 years younger) remained together until Sacks death in 2015 at the age of 83. It’s a happy relationship to the end of an amazing life led by a man who changed medical science and at the same time opened our eyes to it. Director Ric Burns really captures the life and times of Sacks, especially of his final years of being with Hayes.