Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in a scene from The Theory of Everything

Top films that portray disability

We asked our Facebook fans about their favourite films that portray disability. Here are the top suggestions:

My Left Foot

“One of the first films that focused entirely on a disabled character is most probably ‘My Left Foot’directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Daniel Day-Lewis.  I was merely a child slowly discovering the world and found so many aspects of the film that I did not fully understand but I did get from it that disability has its struggles and challenges but with it also comes strength and determination. The film tackled various issues that 26 years ago were considered a taboo such as suicide, love, anti-disabled attitudes and rejection of the disabled.”   – Raya Al-Jadir 

“My Left Foot was the earliest film I remember portraying disability. I remember being amazed at how determined the character was. ” – Libby

Inside I’m dancing

“Since seeing this film in school I fell in love and would recommend it to anyone, Inside I’m Dancing is one of the best films I’ve ever watched for showing both the highs and lows of living with a disability, it was so realistic and well written that when I found out neither of the actors were actually disabled, I was in complete shock!
Inside I’m Dancing takes both the good and bad points of being disabled and adds humour which makes for such a feel good film. Having cerebral palsy myself I believe that people with disabilities should be given the chance to show their amazing talents in the media instead of able bodied actors playing the part of disabled characters.”  – Michelle

The Imitation Game

“Although it’s never stated, I feel the makers of The Imitation Game wanted to portray Alan Turing as someone with an autism spectrum condition. The thing that makes the film extraordinary for me is that they got this so right, while not letting it dominate the story.

Autistic characters are so often portrayed as rude, oblivious and not having emotions. Autistic traits tend to be foregrounded in quirky diversions and gags, while the person’s achievements fade into the background. “Not fitting in” is emphasised to the point that you might think if you’re autistic, you’ll never have any friends. This is depressing, but it’s also untrue.

In The Imitation Game, Turing’s autistic traits are just part of who he is, and crucially, part of what his friends like about him. The highly emotional scenes where young Turing – brilliantly played by Alex Lawther – falls in love with a school friend, are enormously moving. Turing’s special interest in codes is beautifully laced through these heart-wrenching flashbacks, where it becomes a source of meaningful connection, not a freakish curiosity.

The things we struggle with are portrayed too. Being overwhelmed by noise or strong emotions, the lifelong project of understanding what others are feeling and the mysterious world of social rules. At least, this is what I identified with in Turing’s story – each autistic person’s experience will be different.

Despite the tragedy of the story, I left the cinema feeling optimistic. As Temple Grandin says, we need all types of minds.” – Suraya

Four Weddings and a Funeral

“I’ve always liked the character of David, played by deaf actor David Bower, in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Bower plays Hugh Grant’s brother, but the film doesn’t make a big deal of his deafness: the character is neither tragic nor endowed with special gifts. He’s an ordinary person who has a nice, jokey relationship with his brother – and they just happen to communicate in sign language. I love David’s dramatic intervention in the wedding ceremony, where Hugh Grant’s character translates David’s signed words for the congregation, transforming a well-worn cinematic trope into a funny and memorable scene.” – Kim Thomas

2 thoughts on “Top films that portray disability”

  1. totally agree about Theory of Everything – great movie that wonderfully portrays the love story and achievement of the Hawkings. Without doubt for me however two of the best movies in recent times (disability focused or not) are The Intouchables and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Both are French movies that showcase the amazing strength emotional reality and diversity of experience for quadriplegics. My teenage daughter is a quad and she was inspired by both. Hard viewing at times but no one said this life is easy. Thanks Scope we are a long way away from the UK but we love the work you do for the community.

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