Owen Suskind was a boy of considerable promise, until he developed autism at the age of 3. As Owen withdrew into his silent state, his parents almost lost hope that he find some way to interact with his world in some meaningful way. However, that way was found through animated films, especially those of the Walt Disney Company, which provided Owen a way to understand the world through its stories to the point of creating his own. This film covers the life of Owen and how he manages to become as functional as possible with the help of Disney and his family to the point of having his own life. However, Owen soon learns as well that there is more to real life than what Disney can illustrate in animation even as his family prepares itself for an uncertain future with him. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Autism: If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Albert Einstein
Until I saw the remarkably-affecting Life, Animated, I had an unclear idea of what autism is; now I feel I have expunged my prejudices and embraced it as a fascinating world. Given the right circumstances, and that condition is crucial, an autistic child may grow up into a well-functioning adult who carries with him a rich treasure of Disney inspirations.
Yes, I said Disney, for although this sometimes-animated documentary may feel like a Disney infomercial, there can be no doubt about the animations as essential to Owen's healthy response to the language of life. When as a very young boy he tells his parents his brother does not want to be Peter Pan or Mowgli, they realize he is seeing life through the Disney lens, opening up conversations that would never have happened if Owen had not memorized all the lines from the classic animations.
While this revelation about the transforming nature of Disney's work is astonishing, more stunning is the realization that Owen's parents and his brother give him unconditional love that is really the bedrock of his mental health. Dad, as a successful writer for The Wall Street Journal, and exceptionally caring mom promise a healthy, intelligent autistic child/adult.
For that very reason, Life, Animated and its director, Roger Ross Williams, together with original author Ron Suskind, offer an idyllic world cut to maximum lyrical effect. I suspect some other autistic kids may not have it so good. But, hey, I'm just beginning to understand autism, and it looks oh so promising under the aegis of the Suskind family and the mighty Disney.
"God created Autism to help offset the excessive number of boring people on earth." Unknown
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