Beautiful Dreamers

  • Film
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In 1880, progressive doctor Maurice Bucke invited American poet Walt Whitman to London, Ontario, where he was superintendent of the mental asylum. Whitman, whose brother was mentally ill, was a source of spiritual enlightenment for the doctor: they formed a lifelong friendship, and Bucke eventually went on to write the poet's biography. Writer-director Harrison uses these facts to develop a tale primarily of emotional rediscovery and sexual awakening. Bucke (Feore) finds his strait-laced wife (Meldrum) antagonistic to Whitman, until she too throws convention aside and goes skinny-dipping with the guys. Where the film drags is in its earnest attemptto convey the doctor's euphoric response to Whitman's message: applying the tone of Bucke's writings to the screen doesn't always make for credible exchanges. More involving are the scenes within the asylum which indicate the value of compassionate treatment, and Torn's glorious performance as Whitman.

Release details

Duration: 108 mins

Cast and crew

Director: John Harrison
Screenwriter: John Harrison
Cast: Colm Feore
Rip Torn
Wendel Meldrum
Sheila McCarthy
Colin Fox
David Gardner
Marsha Moreau
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