Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Temple Grandin: a movie review

We each see the world in a unique manner because of our individual physiologies and experiences. 

It may appear that we all perceive the same world, but similarities in perception only mask our individual perception. Unless we were to perceive the world from that unified field of consciousness that is the alpha and omega of existence, then we are all living, breathing exponents of the one and only this-is-what-I-see.

Voice is that aspect of writing that attests the uniqueness of our vision and the need to find words to convey the utterly new and grand beauty of individual expression. The best cinematographic representation of the need to allow our individual vision of the world its voice is the 2010 movie Temple Grandin.

Temple Grandin was the winner of the 2011 Golden Globe award for the best performance by an actress in a mini-series or a motion picture made for television. (Claire Danes starred in the title role.) The movie also won another 25 awards and was nominated for an additional 21. The IMDb storyline is below.
Biopic of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who overcame the limitations imposed on her by her condition to become a Ph.D. and expert in the field of animal husbandry. She developed an interest in cattle early in life while spending time at her aunt and uncle's ranch. She did not speak until age four and had difficulty right through high school, mostly in dealing with people. Her mother was very supportive as were some of her teachers. She is noted for creating her 'hug box,' widely recognized today as a way of relieving stress in autistic children, and her humane design for the treatment of cattle in processing plants, which have been the subject of several books and won an award from PETA. Today, she is a professor at Colorado State University and well-known speaker on autism and animal handling.
The true genius of this HBO production is how the film moves the viewer to see the world as Temple sees it and then moves the viewer to realize and embrace that vision. I also appreciated the opportunity the filmmakers gave me to discover Temple's world and its humanity. The movie is understated, not preachy; it leads us to the door but does not push us through.

The taglines for the film are "What made her different made her exceptional" and "Autism gave her a vision. She gave it a voice."

Those sentences are abstractions of the reality that the movie so compellingly presents. That reality, the actual Temple Grandin, interacted with the director and cast in the making of the movie. She is a noted scientist, author, education, and spokesperson for autism.

Temple Grandin
Ruth C. Sullivan, one of the founders of the Autism Society of America said that when "Temple first addressed an [ASA] audience... people were standing at least three deep... The audience couldn't get enough of her. Here, for the first time, was someone who could tell us from her own experience, what it was like to be extremely sound sensitive ('like being tied to the rail and the train's coming')... She was asked many questions: 'Why does my son do so much spinning?' 'Why does he hold his hands to his ears?' 'Why doesn't he look at me?' She spoke from her own experience, and her insight was impressive. There were tears in more than one set of eyes that day... Temple quickly became a much sought-after speaker in the autism community."  (from the foreward of The Way I See It, Temple Grandin)

My tagline for the movie Temple Grandin is "Autism is a real-life experience, not a medical label." Experience a flavor of that reality by watching the film. It will change how you see the world.

Copyright 2013 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


  1. I am autistic too. And yes I may have social problems as well, but I am happy with my drawing skills, writing music, and creating things. Sometimes, I discover hidden talents in myself that I never knew I've had. Temple Grandin is actually coming to my town and I'm going to see her with a friend of mine.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I've been a teacher for 34 years and still found the movie to be moving and inspiring.