Here are some movies that I’ve seen that adress the issue of physical disability on the plot. Though the list is very short, the idea of posting this is for you to make it longer with your own recommendations.
1. Les intouchables (2011) by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano.
French drama about the friendship between Philippe, who is rich and quadriplegic, and his stubborn assistant Driss. This movie is A-MAZING! It’s a must, disabled or not. The film won several awards and both starring actors are super hot, plus, “Philippe” is adorable. I fell in love with him, I wanna marry him and have french kids. (+ Loved the “ear joke” ).
2. Kiss me (2013)by Jeff Probst.
Drama about a girl, Zoe, who is diagnosed with scoliosis at 15 and is forced to wear a back brace. She falls in love with the father of the kids she babysits. It stars Emily Osment, for teenage fans. It’s kindof a teenage drama, but it sums pretty well the pressures on being disabled at that age. (+The plaster scene is gold! It was such a flashback for me that I shed a tear).
3. El bulto (1991)by Gabriel Retes Mello.
Mexican movie about Lauro, a journalist who returns from a coma after twenty years and struggles with recovery and adapting to the whole changes in his family, politics, ideology and culture. He starts a romance with Adela, a friend of the family who used to take care of him. This film is old but still awesome, though idk if you can find it with english subtitles. (+ I adore the scene when Adela shows naked to Lauro to make love to him and he is so overwhelmed that he falls off the wheelchair).
4. The Brooke Ellison Story (2004) by Christopher Reeve (YES! Superman)
It’s the story of this girl who was the first quadriplegic to graduate from Harvard (in science, I think). It has a pinch of inspiration bullshit, but it’s also rough as it’s so true. (+Looking for the data, I found that Brooke Ellison ran for U.S. State Senate in 2006 :O And the prom scene made me cry like a lady).
There’s a Stephen Hawking movie starred by Benedict Cumberbatch, but I can’t recommend it as I haven’t seen it.
About a recently paralysed cyclist coming to terms with his disability and finding love. He is also gay but to be honest, it doesn’t make much difference to the plot apart from the fact that the love interest is male. I love that it is not the main plot and just something else added in. Independent movie that won some awards. You can watch it here.
6. Avatar (2009) by James Cameron
(My favourite film ever) “A paraplegic Marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.” I love it so much because the fact he is in a wheelchair has no impact on the plot; it doesn’t matter its just a thing that happens. It still deals with his reaction to it though.
7. Ondine (2009) by Neil Jordan
“This is an Irish tale of romance and tragedy set on the life of a fisherman by the name of Ciracuse. Here, rescues a woman from the sea. However, she begs him not to expose. So, he keeps her at a secret hideout. The man is stuck between the Ondine and his drunkard wife and their paths intertwine.” I don’t remember that much about it but Cirscuse’s daughter Ondine uses a wheelchair and is waiting for a kidney or liver transplant. (I can’t remember which!) It’s weird but it has a nice ending. It’s also the same again, the fact that she uses a wheelchair has no impact on the plot but the difficulties for her family are dealt with a bit.
8. How to Train Your Dragon (2010) & How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
(These are kids films but I really like them!) Set in the mythical world of burly Vikings and wild dragons, and based on the book by Cressida Cowell, this action comedy tells the story of Hiccup, a Viking teenager who doesn’t exactly fit in with his tribe’s longstanding tradition of heroic dragon slayers. Hiccup’s world is turned upside down when he encounters a dragon that challenges him and his fellow Vikings to see the world from an entirely different point of view. *spoilers for the first film* Right at the end of the first one, Hiccup loses a leg and uses a prosthetic. He continues to use the prosthetic in the second film. I love the first one and hope the second will be just as good! One of the other characters has one hand and the dragon is also disabled (for most of the first film). Hiccup having one leg also has no impact on the plot. (you can see a running theme here!) There’s also a TV series with these but I don’t know if he has one leg in them or not. I’ve got the DVDs to find out! He does in a short film in the series too.
9. X-Men Franchise
Superhero films. Professor Charles Xavier is in a wheelchair. I’m not sure how many of the films and they’re not in a chronological order. I’ve never seen them so I can’t comment on what the portrayal/whatever was like.
10. Hawking (2004) by Philip Martin
I have seen this and can recommend it. It’s Benedict Cumberbatch’s first leading role and he did very well considering how hard this would have been to play. It’s about Stephen Hawking around the time he got diagnosed with motor neurone disease. It has the decline which it really important as I never see gradual declines anywhere in films. You can tell it’s a bit dramatised compared to what actually happened to him but if you read Stephen Hawking’s accounts of the time, some parts make it directly into the film. It was a TV movie but can be found online and on youtube because on Benedict. It’s also now available to buy on DVD on amazon.
11. Forrest Gump (1994) by Robert Zemeckis
“This Academy Award winner for Best Picture stars Tom Hanks as the good hearted, but painfully slow Forrest Gump, a man who manages to somehow be involved with almost every major event in history during the last half of the 20th Century. Spanning the course of his life, the story follows him as he grows from a weak child to a war hero to a shrimp boat captain, all the while pining for the love of his childhood friend Jenny, played by Robin Wright.” *Spoilers* Lieutenant Dan loses his legs in Vietnam and that is dealt with a fair bit. He is in the film a fair bit and in my essays on the film I classed him as a main character. You might also consider Forrest as being mentally disabled. This really is a fantastic film and if you haven’t seen it go and watch it now!
12. The Elephant Man (1980) by David Lynch
"A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.” (Not seen the whole thing myself so can’t comment but I think it’s supposed to be pretty good. It’s also interesting for how people with disabilities were treated in Victorian times.
13. My Left Foot (1989) by Jim Sheridan
“Christy Brown, born with cerebral palsy, learns to paint and write with his only controllable limb - his left foot.” Interesting for comparing then and now etc. Also how a family with very limited income dealt with it.
14. Quid Pro Quo (2008) by Carlos Brooks
“A semi-paralyzed radio reporter is sent out to investigate a story that leads him into an odd subculture and on a journey of disturbing self-realization” All I can say is that it’s quite interesting but very weird. The ending is especially weird.
15. The Fault in Our Stars (2014) by Josh Boone
For the Book: “Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.” I love the book of this and hope the film will be just as good. Augustus Waters has one leg and there are other characters with varying physical disabilities. The issue of physical disability is dealt with really well in the book and especially a bit at an airport which I think is fantastic (I really hope it’s in the film). I can definitely recommend the book and I hope I’ll be able to recommend the film.
That’s all I can think of at the moment. I’m sure I know more though. There’s a new Julia Roberts one where she’s in a wheelchair but I have no idea what it’s about or what it’s called. My Sister’s Keeper maybe counts but it’s more dying and morals than disability but the book is much better.
Morgan Director: Michael Akers Cast: Leo Minaya (Morgan Oliver), Jack Kesy (Dean Kagen) USA | 2011 | 90 min
A poignant and candid drama about perseverance centered on Morgan, a young man who ends up in a wheelchair after a bicycling accident. Driven and competitive, Morgan has a tough time accepting his new life as a paraplegic, a life that’s often frustrating and lonely. When he meets Dean, who strikes up a friendship with him on the basketball court, Morgan’s zest for life is rekindled, but soon he finds himself reverting to the reckless ways that lead to his debilitating accident in the first place. When Morgan decides to face his demons in the location where his accident took place, he risks not only a broken body, but also a broken heart.
Michael Akers and Sandon Berg have consistently pushed the boundaries for the gay genre of independent films. GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN explored the age old question of homosexuality as a biological vs. environmental phenomenon. Would a gay man who forgets his past still be gay–and, in this case, would a closeted gay man who lost the shackles of the past find his way, at last, to the truth? Having made their feature-film debut and met with resounding success in the film-festival circuit, the filmmaker duo crossed over into spoof territory, for MATRIMONIUM, about a “reality” show based on lies and stereotypes in a mass-media world willing to turn the serious matter of same-sex marriage into a money-making hoax. The 2006 movie PHOENIX was inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1961 classic L'Avventura.It naturally alters the story into a modern ‘gay twist’. Dylan is a young nurse, with a good job and a nice apartment near the beach, where he surfs everyday, and he thinks he has found true love in Ken, a mysterious real-estate agent who is sweet and passionate with Dylan, but always has an out-of-town business meeting whenever it’s time to get serious. When Ken jets off, ostensibly to Phoenix, Dylan is left feeling hurt and disappointed, again, but this time he decides to 'surprise’ Ken by meeting him in Phoenix. Instead of surprising Ken, however, he ends up being shocked to find Ken’s longtime partner, Demetrius, and the two of them pair up to learn the truth about their mutual lover. UGN’s latest film, MORGAN, shakes things up yet again. Morgan Oliver is an athletic, outgoing, fun-spirited young man. A bartender by profession, he’s also a bicycle racer, until an accident on a tricky turn in Central Park renders him paralyzed. Now the gregarious, ambitious young man has to learn to live in a wheelchair. His life as he knew it being over, he sinks into an abyss of depression. A sliver of sunshine comes in the form of Dean Kagen, a handsome basketball player with a tantalizing grin. When Morgan was a “legger” he’d have, no doubt, been all eagerness and confidence on his first dates with Dean. But now things are totally different. He’s in a wheelchair, and being a paraplegic, he can’t even have an erection. Morgan’s story explores truths about society’s prejudices, particularly strong in the very image-conscious lgbt community. Akers and Berg have addressed in their films several prevalent issues that face the lives of gay men, and amazingly, have done so without succumbing to stereotypes and cliches. They have woven their gay characters into classic storylines, thus giving an element of normalcy to homosexuality seldom seen in mainstream cinema.