Claire Danes plays Dr. Temple Grandin in an outstanding new HBO film about the pioneering animal scientist whose autism is a central element of her ability to understand animals and to think visually. Her astonishing and inspiring story first came to public attention in an article by neurologist Oliver Sacks called An Anthropologist On Mars. The title comes from Dr. Grandin’s own description of her sense of bafflement in trying to understand human behavior and communication.
But her understanding of animal behavior transformed the operations of cattle facilities. The movie makes clear that Dr. Grandin faced prejudice not just as an autistic person but as a woman. But her ideas were so compelling that she has become a world-respected authority. And she has been a guide to autism as well, writing and speaking about her experiences as a way of helping neuro-typicals understand those who literally see the world differently.
“Extraordinary Measures is the real story of a man who needed a miracle for his sick children and quit his job to work full time on raising money to support the medical research that might help keep them alive. The movie stars Brendan Fraser as the father and Harrison Ford as the doctor. But the real story continues, not only in the continuing fight to help children who struggle with the life-threatening genetic disease featured in the film but in the inspiration that the story has given to others struggling with what seem like insurmountable challenges.
The makers of the film are inviting people to tell their stories on an “inspirational quilt” made from videos. They are looking for “uplifting stories that include themes of triumph over tragedy, overcoming adversity, overcoming illness/disability/injury, acts of altruism, generosity and simple heroism. The Quilt is a community expressing the power of good in the human spirit, and a platform to share and connect stories of hope and inspiration.” If you have such a story, submit a video and you can win $10,000 for the charity you support. Or, visit the site to take a look at the videos uploaded by others and vote for the one you think is most deserving of the prize.
The movie may be good — I will let you know when I see it. But the videos are engrossing, touching, and, yes, inspiring. Take a look and vote for the one you want to support.
The Real Story: the Crowleys of ‘Extraordinary Measures’
Posted on January 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm
“Extraordinary Measures” stars Brendan Fraser as John Crowley, the real-life dad who quit his job to raise money for research that could help his two children, critically ill with an incurable genetic disorder called Pompe disease. Here is a featurette with the real John and Aileen Crowley and their children.