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Children of a Lesser God (1986)

William Hurt , Marlee Matlin , Randa Haines  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: William Hurt, Marlee Matlin, Piper Laurie, Philip Bosco, Allison Gompf
  • Directors: Randa Haines
  • Writers: Hesper Anderson, James Carrington, Mark Medoff
  • Producers: Burt Sugarman, Candace Koethe, Patrick J. Palmer
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: December 12, 2000
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000507P9
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,535 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Children of a Lesser God" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

One of the most critically-acclaimed films of the 80s, Children of a Lesser God garnered four Academy Award nominations and a Best Actress Oscar for Marlee Matlin. Based on the hit Broadway play, it's the uplifting love story of John Leeds (William Hurt), an idealistic special education teacher, and a headstrong deaf girl named Sarah (Marlee Matlin). At first, Leeds sees Sarah as a teaching challenge. But soon their teacher/student relationship blossoms into a love so passionate it shatters the barrier of silence that keeps them apart.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally Entertaining April 7, 2004
"Children of a Lesser God" is one of the best films released in 1986, starring William Hurt and Marlee Matlin. Its brilliant plot never loses its emotional value. Its story about a high school teacher, James, who teaches deaf students, then meets a deaf female janitor who doesn't speak, Sarah, is unique. As secrets are revealed about Sarah's past, the film becomes increasingly interesting. James and Sarah later fall in love, but the battle between Sarah and her inner demons prevents the relationship to function at the fullest. Such twists turns arise within the characters that keep audiences always awaiting anxiously for what happens next. Therefore, this film is more than a love story; it's a story about hope. Such combination adds more unique themes. The distinction between the spoken words and the sign language was brilliantly translated. Rather than typing subtitles on the lower screen during the sign language scenes, James usually speaks what they are saying. Many say that having subtitles may have likely ruined the film's emotional affect. Such accomplishment makes the writing more brilliant.
Marlee Matlin became the youngest person to win the Oscar for the Best Actress catagory (age 21). Her role as Sarah proved highly difficult, considering she only expressed herself nonverbally. Her body language distinuish Sarah's emotions perfectly in every scene. Few others have accomplished this in such magnitude. Only one other actress has won an Oscar for playing a non-speaking lead role (Holly Hunter, "The Piano", 1993). William Hurt performs his role as James wonderfully. Though not as demanding as Matlin's role, his emotional value still holds on top. James struggles between love and reaching out are expressed beautifully in every scene.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Marlee Matalin received critical acclaim and a well-deserved Academy Award, for Best Actress, in this beautiful and intelligent drama. Sarah (Matalin) is a deaf janitor at a school for deaf children who encounters a talented and patient hearing teacher who has just arrived (William Hurt). Together, they embark on a relationship, filled with challenges along the way. Nevertheless, Sarah comes to learn that love and respect does exist for her in the world. What's more, the teacher comes to gain a new perspective, understanding and sensitivity for people born without the ability to hear. He also learns that just because they lack this sense doesn't mean they aren't gifted in other ways, with their other senses (inward and outward). Sarah can literally express to him what a wave sounds like, as it rises out of the water, and she can sense the rhythm of music in her nose.

The acting is believeable and very compelling, in this film, as William Hurt's character interprets his signing (and Sarah's) with feeling and a real connection to their unspoken language. There are great, humorous moments in this film, as well as intense, introspective scenese, where we get a sense of Sarah's struggle to co-exsist with hearing, speaking people. Since Sarah never spoke, she learned to build a rather isolated existence as a cleaning woman, and also as a very sensuous woman. She never felt she belonged though. This story truly brings dignity and humanity to this story character study of an extraordinary, intelligent and beautiful woman who just happens to live through her sensations, as a means of connecting to the sounds she cannot hear. You will truly look at deaf people in a totally new light once you see this film. Everyone needs to watch it......
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love on screen between silence and sounds. April 16, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Sounds familiar I'm sure, man meets woman and they fall in love, fall out, and fall in again. So,when hearing man falls in love with deaf woman, and they fall out, and so on, there is good reason to think you have been there, heard it all before. Well, listen up, you may be surprised by the quiet assured tale that is the Childen of a Lesser God. A film that gives us an idea of what we thought we knew: Love needs more than words to keep it lit.
This is a film about a deaf and a hearing world trying to find a compromise in communication and echoes of all our stories of love and grief. William Hurt as a Speech Therapist, arrives with a maverick reputation and a certainty in his expectations of the speaking deaf. He can interpret the signs, yet can't undertand his lover's abused heart.

Marlee Matlin has agony across her face that has little to do with cleaning the toilet of a School for the Deaf, or her own deafness. Fortunately, the expressive face also shows the vulnerable tenderness that lies beneath and makes you believe in her struggle to be heard. The script avoids shouting about how the experience of loving someone who has hurt her, affects a woman who is deaf. She falls in love as a woman, and is affected as a woman.
In the company of a strong supporting cast, the characters learn something about their special needs when in love or alone. They stutter into love with a simple but limiting,vocabulary of passion and desire. Like all our own tales of love and grief, the early promise proves illusory when the enduring relationship requires more understanding of the other than we believe ourselves capable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Great to replace our old VHS with this DVD.
Published 11 days ago by Lita Norsworthy
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie.
Marlee Matlin deserving of the Oscar. Great movie.
Published 13 days ago by JOHN
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This movie is excellent and truly inspiring me.
Published 13 days ago by Richard P. Noel
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this film!!!
Loved this film. I believe this is William Hurts best film. Just wonderful all around.
Published 26 days ago by Hillarys Antiques
5.0 out of 5 stars Must see movie.
Excellent movie. It introduces the audience to the beauty of American Sign Language. The concept of trying to teach deaf children to speak notwithstanding, the acting is excellent... Read more
Published 28 days ago by bootwearer
5.0 out of 5 stars a great watch!
This movie is a classic...a great combination of funny, entertaining, and touching. I'm a speech therapist and enjoy using sign language. Read more
Published 29 days ago by soccer mom
5.0 out of 5 stars beautifully told story from 1986
A sensitive, beautifully told story from 1986. Young Marlee Matlin won an Oscar as a young deaf woman who becomes involved with, and falls in love, with young William Hurt, a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John R. Hultman
5.0 out of 5 stars Marlee Martin
I love it
Published 2 months ago by Carmen M. Negion
5.0 out of 5 stars Children of a Lesser God
Purchased this DVD to replace the one I already had in VHS format.
Published 2 months ago by Anthonette Houston
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie
saw it years ago and wanted to have it for my collection. great movie and wonderful cast. have tissue around because you will probably need it.
Published 3 months ago by mergie
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