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Homeless to Harvard - The Liz Murray Story (2003)

Thora Birch , Michael Riley , Peter Levin  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)

Price: $38.88 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Thora Birch, Michael Riley, Robert Bockstael, Makyla Smith, Kelly Lynch
  • Directors: Peter Levin
  • Writers: Ronni Kern
  • Producers: Alan Nevins, Barnet Bain, Liz Murray, Michael Mahoney, Ronni Kern
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Lifetime
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2004
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002J4ZZU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,644 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Homeless to Harvard - The Liz Murray Story" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Liz Murray was raised in poverty by drug-addicted parents. Though they loved her, they were unable to care for her and Liz ended up living on the streets by the age of 15. Profoundly affected by her mother's AIDS-related death, Liz forced herself to look at her future and make some significant changes. Her prospects were dismal, yet she turned her life around by going back to high school. After earning her diploma in just two years, while still homeless, Liz won a New York Times scholarship for needy students, which enabled her to attend Harvard University.

DVD Features:
Interviews:Interview with the real Liz Murray
Other:Inspirational message from Liz Murray

Thora Birch (American Beauty) is Liz Murray: homeless at 15, Harvard undergrad at 19. Based on a true story, the Lifetime movie begins when her mother, Jean (Kelly Lynch), a schizophrenic with a substance abuse problem, is placed in a mental institution. Liz and her sister are left with their father, Peter, who is also a drug addict. When Jean returns two years later, she's clean, but has AIDS (and will soon start drinking again). When Peter falls behind on the rent, they lose their apartment. He moves into a shelter, the rest move in with Jean's abusive father. Liz hits the streets soon afterwards. Once on her own, she gets serious about her studies and her hard work eventually pays off. Homeless to Harvard earned three Emmy nominations, including one for Birch, while Lynch (Drugstore Cowboy) is just as believable as her kindhearted mess of a mother. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very inspiring January 27, 2006
By A. Tong
The most inspiring movie I've ever seen.

However, I hate how they ended it. Right before the credits it says that Liz Murray left Harvard in 2003. What they didn't mention was that she transferred to Columbia University (still an Ivy League school), continued her studies and is now persuing her masters degree in sociology and psychology.

I wish they simply changed the title and simply didn't emphasize so much about Harvard. That's PR hype for you.

According to her 2005 speech at Greencastle, Ind., Liz Murray says "It's not about Harvard, it's not about a prestigious school. It's not about that. It's about learning, about educating yourself and gathering enough knowledge to find your way through any little crack or crevice you possibly can so you can move up and escape from that trap you were born into."
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True tale of homeless girl who made it to Harvard August 20, 2004
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
I saw this one when it first came out (on Lifetime) and am delighted it is finally available on video/Dvd. Thora Birch does an exceptional job playing a girl whose family life is chaotic (her mother is a drug addict, her father is mentally ill).

She's the butt of jokes at school because she has had no training in normal social behanvior and her home is so cluttered and messy that finding clean clothes to wear is a major challenge.

Somehow she manages to rise above her circumstances, beating the odds and going to Harvard. Credit the filmmakers for being honest and staying away from saccharine solutions. THis is a gritty but riveting film. A must-have in my colletion..should be in yours.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strength August 3, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I switched on the television to catch the initial third of the film, 'Homeless to Harvard'. I could not move after that, because I felt that what the protagonist of the story was so fascinating in, was her moving in a simple kind of way in a complicated pattern of life, in a simple world of her own, yet knowing only the kind of homes she did, of extreme poverty. Underneath the simple story told, there were these other layers of life, and of 'connections'.

After the end of the film, I went into the web to try and locate more information on Liz Murray. I found mountainloads of material: a whole range, in fact. I wrote to, and within minutes, I received a reply (presumably, from some machine-operated response, but it still didn't stop me from being impressed, since I live on the other side of the world, to get that rapidity of reply - the marvels of science)to say that my order for the Liz Murray story on DVD had been noted, and would arrive within the next fortnight. It did - just a few days later. Most impressive, this efficiency.

Since then, I have watched the film twice, and taken my own time to finish it at my own speed. I am someone who has stopped teaching, on early retirement, as a result of poor health. Had I still been at school, I would have taken my personal DVD with me to class, for anaylysis and discussion.

However, when one looks at 'Homeless to Harvard', one could also be looking at not only the disadvantaged in Asian cities, but those with greater problems not only here, but elsewhere as well. That wherever there are these ravages of war for example, other or similar kinds of difficulties run parallel. In that sense, the children at these places are always far worse. Comparisons are invariably impossible. Unfair as well.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homeless to Harvard a movie of a life time January 14, 2005
By kbremer
WOW! This was a great Lifetime origianl movie. This movie goes to show you that if you want some thing bad enough, you can get it. Here is a movie of a homelss girl who wanted more for her life and in the end she got it. You have to want to better yourself. If you had seen Liz Murray on the street, you would have thought, well there is another homeless person and not thought twicw about it. And she knew that. But she wanted people to know her as more then just a homeless person. This was an excellent movie.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration November 22, 2007
Never despair. No matter how bad things get, hang on in. To survive you must believe in yourself, and learn to trust.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strength and perseverance October 29, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a good movie. Thora Birch is convincing. The story is incredible. Sometimes it is a little slow but it's worth the time one takes to see it. It's inspirational.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great movie for the family December 10, 2005
By lyndzee
I love this movie! it is incredibly good. It is definitely sad to see this young girl struggle so much. It really makes you thankful for you have got in life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Story! Oprah check this out it's true! December 30, 2008
This was a short and sweet true story and I was surprised I liked it for one it's a made for tv movie by lifetime so right of the bat it didn't have much going for it. However it turned out to be a great story about a girl who beats all odds of a broken home. After becoming a parent myself I was quite angry with the parents in this story but then again I have never battled an addiction,schizophrenia or poverty of that level..I am by far not the perfect parent.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
I have admired this story for years and now I have it on DVD to remind myself never to give up!
Published 7 days ago by Suzanne E. Vannucci
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing
I first saw this movie when I was 15 with my friend Katie. When I caught it again on Lifetime, I recorded it. This movie is so inspiring and incredible. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Deborah McCaw
5.0 out of 5 stars A movie every teenager should see and talk about with friends and...
I bought this to show my 8th grade classes. It is very inspirational and has great life lessons. Liz is not your typical "entitlement" kid using everything and everybody as... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marion V. Douglas
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Such a great read and watch. Recommended to anyone interested in life stories.
Published 1 month ago by Hayzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I really enjoyed receiving this package. The package was well derived on date. Great!!
Published 2 months ago by Joe
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
This is a very inspiring and hope filled movie!
Published 2 months ago by Dragonfly7110
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good movie I have meet the author that is why I wanted to see the movie.
Published 2 months ago by Susan Rodgers
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie!
Published 3 months ago by Lucio Bastien
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the truly inspiring stories of overcoming horrendous odds to...
I'd been directed to this movie by a friend, so had seen it before I bought my own copy. The heroine in this story proves that nothing can hold back someone who has gumption and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Nellieanna H. Hay
5.0 out of 5 stars Awareness
Enjoyed the entire movie. It was heart moving and made me aware of some of the sufferings of children right here in the US.
Published 3 months ago by janice culver
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