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Awakenings Scene: Letting Go and Loving Truly

Awakenings is a movie based on a true story about a boy named Leonard Lowe trying to live in an adult body after waking up from a 30-year-long coma.

My favorite scene in the movie is when he accepts that the medicine that awakened him is no longer working and that he must say goodbye to the woman he has fallen in love with. Tremoring from withdrawal, he gets up from his seat to shake Paula’s hand. She receives his hand and, as he turns away, holds it tighter, clasping his hand with both of hers. She rises from her seat and pulls him in close to her. They dance slowly. His tremors fade away. When they disappear completely, Paula cries.

The scene starts at 1:46:08 in the movie and ends at 1:48:57. The scene clip is available on YouTube.

Scene Meaning

Leonard loves Paula, truly. We realize this with his decision to let her go in this scene. What could be mistaken for the shame of his declining state is actually true love. He could let her spend more time with him, but he knows her dad is ill and does not want to burden her. Leonard has also accepted his fate of returning to a vegetable state. With this acceptance, he is able to love with his whole heart.

Scene Lift

Over a month ago, I started seeing someone who I came to love. But she is returning to her home country next year and has been hurt by short-term relationships in the past. Now she is starting to worry. Because of this, she wants to end it. Before I would have fought this, but this movie scene reminded me to let go and love truly: to love her, the person, over any idea of her and us together.

Scene Script

This is my fan version of the script. I wrote it to connect with the scene on another level and practice screenwriting. You can read the original scene script here (p. 125–126).

INT. HOSPITAL MESS HALL - DAY

Paula sits across from a tremoring Leonard who struggles to get words out. His battle between acceptance, shame, and sorrow show in every pause and tremoring movement.

LEONARD
They'll never let me out of this place.
(pause)
And they shouldn't.
(pause)
I'm still not well, as you can see.
(pause)
I feel well when I see you, and...

Our longest pause yet now. Leonard inhales deeply. He knows what he must say, but he is physically incapable of saying it. His mouth hangs open. He looks like he's about to cry. Paula really sees him now, and he lets go.

LEONARD
(stuttering)
I won't see you anymore.

He nods and rises, shaking intensely, as if he's doing a little dance. He extends his hand toward Paula.

LEONARD
I do want to say — goodbye.

Their hands meet and, as Leonard turns to go, Paula hangs on. She rises and wriggles his other hand to her waist. He shakes into a slow dance, his tremors lessening until they stop completely. We see the total innocence in his eyes as his head rests against hers. Paula cries.

By Robert Gibb

Practicing screenwriting and writer @ Scene Lift

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