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18 August 2010 | 12:25 PM 


DVD widescreen 2010, not rated

Best extra: Commentary with director Mick Jackson, writer Christopher Monger and the “real” Temple Grandin.

FROM THE OPENING sequence, it’s clear that Temple Grandin is different.

Sporting cowgirl attire and a messy mop of curls, Temple (Clare Danes) barks out, “My name is Temple Grandin! I’m not like other people. I think in pictures! And I connect them.”

Emphasis on the “different, not less,” as Temple’s mother Eustacia (Julia Ormond) reminds us.

We have to agree that this biopic is “different, perhaps more.” It’s no surprising that the film has received 15 Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Made for Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actress.

The storyline follows a young autistic woman who begins her life in the 1940s, when medical understanding of autism is limited and treatment generally included institutionalization.

Instead, Temple is able to put her visual way of thinking to use, solving problems that neurotypicals don’t even realize exist. She graduates college, earns a Ph.D., and quickly becomes a world-known authority in animal science. Today, almost half of North American cattle are handled in a restrainer system she designed.

In the bonus commentary, the “real” Temple Grandin shares stories and experiences from her life with autism alongside director Mick Jackson and writer Christopher Monger. Beginning with the pain that being misunderstood caused and progressing to the challenges she faced as an academic, it is clear that Grandin is a woman who has left few hurdles uncrossed.

What sets this film apart from similar stories about people living with genetic differences is that Grandin credits autism for her success. Without the disorder, she argues, she would never have been so aware of animal sensitivities. Grandin says if she could snap her fingers and be cured of autism, she wouldn’t do it.

Director Jackson used illustrative animations and quick flashes of still imagery to demonstrate how a visual thinker like Temple processes information. One critic likened it to what was done for “A Beautiful Mind.” The treatment pays off well and people in the autism community have hailed the film has an important demonstration of the autistic mind.

The DVD also includes the “Making of Temple Grandin” which focuses mostly on Clare Danes remarkable performance. She is so convincing that Grandin (who is a self-proclaimed detail nut) says watching the film is like going through a strange time warp and watching her life play out. The physical performance alone is impressive. Not only did Danes portray the movements of Grandin with precision, she also expressed a range of ages.

Additional extras like a discussion with the actors and information about Grandin can be found on HBO.com/movies/temple-grandin.

— Olivia Hubert-Allen

Source:  http://hamptonroads.com/2010/08/hbo-film-embraced-autism-community?cid=poblg

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