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Subject: Rain Man

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 09/25/07 at 12:11 am

As many times as I watched "Rain Man," I didn't pick up on the tragedy until this weekend when I saw it again on TV. 

Charlie Babbitt didn't seem like such a superficial prick on this viewing.  What I saw instead was a young man in pain.  His late father, Sanford, alienated Charlie to the point where Charlie felt Sanford was no father to him at all.  Charlie's mother was long dead.  So we have a lonely character in Charlie who is nursing bitter memories from an unhappy childhood.

Charlie asks time and again in the film, "Why didn't anybody tell me I had a brother?"

What Charlie does seems nasty.  It appears he kidnaps his autistic brother, Raymond Babbitt, from the Wallbrook institute in order to gain access to their father's estate.  However, the temper of the story turns quickly.  Charlie comes to care for Raymond very much and develops a deep affection for Raymond, his long lost brother.  Here is a chance for fraternal love and the give-and-take of familial support Charlie had been missing all his life. 

But it's a dead end.

Raymond Babbitt's autism is profound.  He is simply does not have the mental capacity to relate to others.  Raymond has his mathematical savant, but not much else.  His life revolves around routines of waking and sleeping, of meals, of sports statistics, and of television programs.   Raymond's attendant, Vern, remarks that if he quit looking after Raymond as he has done for years, Raymond wouldn't even miss him.  Raymond's only access to emotion is uncontrollable panic when his routine is interrupted or when he senses danger.  Charlie first does not understand autism and later denies the depth of the pathology.

At the meeting with Dr. Bruner, Raymond's specialist from Wallbrook, Charlie insists he has made more progress with Raymond than the experts have in twenty years. The doctor and the magistrate quickly prove to Charlie that he has engaged in wishful thinking.  Charlie wants to care for Raymond as a brother.  At the meeting, he insists he can handle Raymond's mental deficits and his outbursts of panic, but the look in Charlie's eyes says he knows he cannot. 

The saddest part of the film for me is when Charlie is touching his head to Raymond's after losing the custody battle.  Charlie is demonstrating the kind of affection he so terribly needs himself, but Raymond will never be able to reciprocate. 

Tom Cruise is a lightweight compared to Dustin Hoffman.  Hoffman's portrayal of Raymond Babbitt is part of our pop culture 20 years later.  Hoffman's performance basically overwhelms Cruise's.  Thus, my attention was always on Raymond's character and I never really picked up on the heartbreaking tragedy of Charlie Babbitt. 
:\'(

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rain_man

ADDENDUM

Whoever wrote the wiki article states:

"Eventually it is decided that Raymond will go back to Cincinnati, but he has noticeably progressed emotionally and while he still seems locked in his own world, he displays affection towards Charlie by placing his head on Charlie's. Charlie, for his part, has gained a brother and mellowed considerably, telling Raymond that he will visit two weeks later."

However, if you watch carefully, you see this is not the case.  Raymond has "mellowed" because the psychiatrist stops badgering him for a decision his brain cannot make.  Furthermore, Raymond is returning to Wallbrook and his routine is being restored.  There is wishful thinking on the writer's part.  We want to believe Raymond displayls affection towards Charlie. We want to believe the week with Charlie has positively changed Raymond.  It has not.  Hoffman's portrayal of Raymond is too loveable and demonstrative.  The audience imbues the character with traits that sort of autistic would not have.  I'm guessing this was deliberate on the part of Hoffman and Barry Levinson.  Reality only works to a point in cinema.  I've observed profound autistics.  They don't have anything like the demeanor of Raymond Babbitt; however, if Hoffman played Raymond as dystonic and bereft of emotion, the audience could not warm to the character.


Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: whistledog on 09/25/07 at 12:18 am

Charlie does appear to be a prick, but the more times you see Rain Man, you really do begin to see the whole picture.  Charlie didn't really know how to handle Ray.  Suddenly, he finds out he had a brother that he didn't know about, and who was also autistic.  That's alot to take in, and it wouldn't generally be something that would be easy to handle at first

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: MaxwellSmart on 09/25/07 at 12:45 am


Charlie does appear to be a prick, but the more times you see Rain Man, you really do begin to see the whole picture.  Charlie didn't really know how to handle Ray.  Suddenly, he finds out he had a brother that he didn't know about, and who was also autistic.  That's alot to take in, and it wouldn't generally be something that would be easy to handle at first


Yes.  Initially you see Charlie still being selfish.  He talks of the fact that his older brother was hidden from him as yet another way the world is picking on poor Charlie--like his father cutting him out of the money and the state regulators keeping his cars off the road.  Indeed, Charlie changes in the story, he becomes more giving and caring, but the glimmer of hope of having a family is still denied him. 

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: quirky_cat_girl on 09/25/07 at 7:54 am

I watched part of this movie too, this past weekend. Dustin Hoffman's performance was amazing in this movie.

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: cinnabon on 09/29/07 at 6:33 pm

This is my favorite Dustin Hoffman movie of all time; I could watch the opening credits alone just to hear the song "Iko Iko" by the Belle Stars.  :)

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: danootaandme on 09/29/07 at 11:21 pm

I have an autistic child who is higher functioning than the Raymond of the movie, but am aquainted with some who are more profoundly autistic.  I haven't seen Rain Man since having him so I should look again, but from what I remember, and what I know now, given the scenario that one week would have been a disaster for all involved if it happened in real life.  It is a movie.  Removing Raymond from the controlled setting that he was in would have been exceedingly stressful, Charlie wouldn't have lasted 4 hours let alone one day.  But, it is a movie and does give a bit of insight into what it is like caring for someone with autism, and Raymonds autism is pretty mild when compared to some. 

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: MrCleveland on 10/04/07 at 10:08 am

I've seen this movie and yes, I have autism. But some say I express my feelings more than any autistic they know. If I was living in 1950's America, would I be sent to an Institute and did the institution thing get abandoned in the late 60's?

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: danootaandme on 10/04/07 at 12:56 pm


I've seen this movie and yes, I have autism. But some say I express my feelings more than any autistic they know. If I was living in 1950's America, would I be sent to an Institute and did the institution thing get abandoned in the late 60's?


There was a scaling back on institutionalization in the 60s, but it does still happen.  Then parents were pressed to put there children away if they were a bit "different".  Schools could decide not to accept students, too, the alternative being that they weren't educated at all.  We have come a long way.

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: ultraviolet52 on 10/04/07 at 6:00 pm

I actually own this movie. I bought it after I watched it in full a few years back. Very moving performances by all, and a very close (if not totally on the mark) portrayal of someone who's autistic.

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: MrCleveland on 10/04/07 at 6:44 pm


There was a scaling back on institutionalization in the 60s, but it does still happen.  Then parents were pressed to put there children away if they were a bit "different".  Schools could decide not to accept students, too, the alternative being that they weren't educated at all.  We have come a long way.


In 1913, a child with a disability was rejected by his own school because he was 'different'. I think the 60's really did help the disabled children and I am thankful for that decade.

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: MrCleveland on 10/06/07 at 2:04 pm

I was thinking of making a Rock-Opera about a boy who lived from 1952 to 1979 and he was autistic. He's the oldest and his family was a clean-cut suburban American family living in a Leave it to Beaver atmosphere and was considered by Time Magazine the American Family. The Autistic son was never part of it because the family considered him a blemish, so they took him into an institution run by a Catholic Dioscess. He has a younger brother and sister, but his family never visits him. Then in 1960, a Liberal Nun teaches the autistic boy and she even takes him down the southland to see the repression of others and in 1963, he went to Washington and met Martin Luther King. In the 60's, the nun took the autistic boy to San Fransisco at the height of the Summer of Love and in 1968, they move to Chicago and see the violence at the DNC. In 1969, the nun took the autistic son to Woodstock and then to New York City where in 1970, she died. So the boy who had no family met a girl who was an actress in the theater and the autistic boy tried out as an actor and a worker in a few plays. Both him and the actress go to Hollywood and the autistic boy wants to get married to her and she was very unsure and they both never met again. In 1976, the autistic boy gets his big break and becomes a known actor who can remember his lines extremely well. And in 1979, his family meets him for the first time in Hollywood seeing that he was more different than ever and the autistic son gets so upset, he walks down the pacific ocean and walks into the water and suddenly...a storm hits and he disappears. I hope It works.

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: danootaandme on 10/06/07 at 3:35 pm


I was thinking of making a Rock-Opera about a boy who lived from 1952 to 1979 and he was autistic. He's the oldest and his family was a clean-cut suburban American family living in a Leave it to Beaver atmosphere and was considered by Time Magazine the American Family. The Autistic son was never part of it because the family considered him a blemish, so they took him into an institution run by a Catholic Dioscess. He has a younger brother and sister, but his family never visits him. Then in 1960, a Liberal Nun teaches the autistic boy and she even takes him down the southland to see the repression of others and in 1963, he went to Washington and met Martin Luther King. In the 60's, the nun took the autistic boy to San Fransisco at the height of the Summer of Love and in 1968, they move to Chicago and see the violence at the DNC. In 1969, the nun took the autistic son to Woodstock and then to New York City where in 1970, she died. So the boy who had no family met a girl who was an actress in the theater and the autistic boy tried out as an actor and a worker in a few plays. Both him and the actress go to Hollywood and the autistic boy wants to get married to her and she was very unsure and they both never met again. In 1976, the autistic boy gets his big break and becomes a known actor who can remember his lines extremely well. And in 1979, his family meets him for the first time in Hollywood seeing that he was more different than ever and the autistic son gets so upset, he walks down the pacific ocean and walks into the water and suddenly...a storm hits and he disappears. I hope It works.


Sounds good to me, except for that ending.

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: Philip Eno on 10/06/07 at 3:37 pm


I was thinking of making a Rock-Opera about a boy who lived from 1952 to 1979 and he was autistic. He's the oldest and his family was a clean-cut suburban American family living in a Leave it to Beaver atmosphere and was considered by Time Magazine the American Family. The Autistic son was never part of it because the family considered him a blemish, so they took him into an institution run by a Catholic Dioscess. He has a younger brother and sister, but his family never visits him. Then in 1960, a Liberal Nun teaches the autistic boy and she even takes him down the southland to see the repression of others and in 1963, he went to Washington and met Martin Luther King. In the 60's, the nun took the autistic boy to San Fransisco at the height of the Summer of Love and in 1968, they move to Chicago and see the violence at the DNC. In 1969, the nun took the autistic son to Woodstock and then to New York City where in 1970, she died. So the boy who had no family met a girl who was an actress in the theater and the autistic boy tried out as an actor and a worker in a few plays. Both him and the actress go to Hollywood and the autistic boy wants to get married to her and she was very unsure and they both never met again. In 1976, the autistic boy gets his big break and becomes a known actor who can remember his lines extremely well. And in 1979, his family meets him for the first time in Hollywood seeing that he was more different than ever and the autistic son gets so upset, he walks down the pacific ocean and walks into the water and suddenly...a storm hits and he disappears. I hope It works.
Musicals should have a happy ending.

Subject: Re: Rain Man

Written By: HawkTheSlayer on 10/08/07 at 6:36 pm

Sounds like a hell of a project.
Let me know if you want an opinion, or something.

As for this film- I picked up on the whole picture, when I first saw it.
When I saw this, it was during a painful time in my life.

I grew up not knowing my father. I haven't seen him since the age of 3.
I never knew why, but I have my own theories.
Thus, I can see Charlie's self-imposed hardening of the heart, toward a father who showed no compassion, and no real emotion other than disappointment.

I also have a half-brother and half-sister whom I have never met.
Would probably be a big shock for me to meet them....thus, mirroring Charlie's shock at the discovery of a long-lost brother (Raymond).

The inner complexities of this film greatly convey themselves on film, and the total magnitude of the reality of autism makes this one of the all-time best films dealing with a disability.

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