on March 24, 2005
This version has has omitted some very powerful and crucial scenes, from 196 minutes to 122 minutes, which leaves out more than an hour of the original movie. The ending was particularly disappointing because it had originally been so beautifully and creatively done, and was the culmination was eleven years of grueling work to integrate the personalities. Why on earth anyone would choose to remove this scene is beyond me. Other scenes had been omitted or cut to the point they weren't fully explained, so while it was still a good movie for someone who's never seen the original, I feel that the high prices on this severely edited version are not warranted.
on June 22, 2005
I orignally saw this superb television movie in 1976. It was a two-parter, as TV movies often were in the 70's. Now, in it's un-edited state, I would have given SYBIL 5 STARS. Sally Field is unbelievable, and had this been a theatrical release, she surely would have won her 1st Oscar for this film. Joann Woodward, as the psychiatrist, is also profoundly moving and excellent in her role. This movie is quite disturbing, and extremely difficult to take at times, especially the scenes where Sybil's hateful mother is torturing her. However, it is important, psychologically and socially, and ought to be viewed by any student studying the subject. SYBIL is a frightened young woman who loses time, sometimes up to 2 years of it. Her psyciatrist discovers that Sybil has 16 personalities, all of whom are operating on a daily basis w/o Sybil's knowledge. These personalities guide her through each tumultuous day of her life. This film is powerful and shocking, and it is a crying shame that the VHS version has been chopped into pieces! More than one hour of the original telecast has been deleted, leaving some headscratching moments when there should be significant drama and understanding on the viewer's part. I once taped this film in its entirety off TBS; omitting the commercials, so I have the original film and will not watch the hacked-to-pieces VHS version. So beware! Don't pay $20 for the VHS, you'll be sorry! Hopefully, in this day and age of the release of seemingly EVERYTHING EVER RECORDED, this film will be restored, and released in it's original version on DVD. This excellent movie deserves such treatment.
on February 18, 2006
The film that set into motion Sally Field's long acting career, "Sybil" was an emotional tornado of multiple personalities, child abuse, and modern psychology. Set in a now distant New York, the mini-series settled down upon an introverted young woman by the name of Sybil Dorsett. Living in constant fear of social situations, she struggles to understand what is happening within herself. But when things steadily worsen, she must seek the help of a psychiatrist: Dr. Wilbur.
The two women soon become one in each other; Sybil depends on Wilbur to help get her out of this mental mess while Wilbur depends on Sybil for the knowledge of the unknown world of multiple personalities. However, as the answers to Sybil's illness creep closer, they both suffer emotional breakdowns, whilst Sybil begins to understand the Knifes, the Glass, and the Green Kitchen.
A horrific yet beautiful series, Sybil stands alone as one of the best made for television movies of all time.
And now, it is finally being released, uncut, on this special DVD.
Originally released in a condensed volume on VHS, fans of the film have been dying to get their hands on a more complete edition for years. But the long wait was all worth it.
This DVD includes the following special features: a look at the real Sybil's drawings, an actual therapy session between the real Sybil and Psychiatrist, a featurette with cast interviews and more, along with the original 3 hour long broadcast version. And *though not confirmed* there is word of possible commentaries included in this 2 DVD set as well.
May 23rd: year one.
on July 20, 2006
If the name Sally Field appeared on a nationwide (better yet a human race wide) word association test, we would be all divided in thirds. One third would remember sitcoms of the 60s and 70s like "Gidget", "The Flying Nun" and "The Girl With Something Extra". The Second Third would remember her wonderful appearances on the big screen since 80s (maybe the 70s too) in "Places In The Heart", "Norma Rae", "The Smokey And The Bandit Trilogy", "Steel Magnolias", "Forrest Gump", and others. The Final Third would be right on the border between the 2 groups. How soon we forget her appearance in the fall of 1976 in an Emmy winning performance in the 2 part tv movie "Sybil". Based on the true novel by Flora Rheta Schreiber, Field plays a young substitute teacher/art student whose battered childhood (thanks to a schizophrenic mother and a henpecked father) shattered her so that she grew to adulthood with 16 distinct personalities (all children) although for the tv film they imply 13 (based on the writing on the back of the box and the ending credits of the film). The film also stars Joanne Woodward (aka Mrs. Paul Newman) as Cornelia B. Wilbur, the psychiatrist determined to help Sybil pull her self (or selves if you will) together (the real Dr. Wilbur served as a consultant to the film). Other stars include bit part actors William Prince as her father Willard Dorsett (in present scenes he is remarried to a "normal" woman), Martine Bartlett (in flashbacks) as Hattie Dorsett, the schizoid mother, veteran bit part actor Charles Lane as Dr. Quinones, the hometown M.D. who in the present helps shed some light on her case to Dr. Wilbur, and a young unknown named Brad Davis as neighbor Richard Loomis, a young widower with a young son Matthew (both of whom become "fond" of Sybil before realizing her "condition"). The film won 4 Emmys including a tie for best Dramatic Special and as I stated above Best Actress in a Dramatic Special (for Field). The film originally ran on NBC in 2 parts (at 2 hours with commericals) each. Most stations nowadays if they run it, show it all at one time. When it was released on prerecorded VHS, it was cut from the 3 hours and change (without commercials) by an hour probably because very few movies over 2 hours hit videotape (except as 2 tape sets). Why it was never re-released is beyond me, but now it has hit DVD with the entire film restored to its full length with a second disc of interesting extras. Whether you are a psychology major or not, you will enjoy this film. It is as the box claims, the role that would launch Sally Field on the way to being the great dramatic actress she is now (she does comedy well too).
on August 11, 2005
WHAT IS WRONG WITH CBS/FOX FOR NOT PUTTING THIS OUT ON DVD YET?!?!?!? IT NEEDS TO BE ON DVD, FULLY RESTORED FOOTAGE, DIRECTOR COMMENTARY WITH SALLY FIELD... NOOOOOOOW!! I CHECK AMAZON ALMOST EVERYDAY TO SEE IF IT HAS HAPPENED YET!! THIS TV MOVIE IS AMAZING & AHEAD OF ITS TIME FOR ITS 1977 RELEASE! SALLY FIELD SHOULD HAVE WON 10 OSCAR'S FOR HER PREFOMANCE!! I THINK I'M GOING TO WRITE CBS/FOX EVERY 10 MINUTES UNTIL THEY PUT IT OUT ON DVD!!
on August 23, 2005
I've had the VHS version in my collection for years and just went online and found a reasonably priced copy of the uncut 196 minute version. The different, to put it mildly, is night and day. It's almost another movie (and I'll never understand how the reconcilation of selves scene at the end was cut from the VHS version - isn't that the whole point?) I've always found this movie inspiring and terrifying, but the original version communicates the horror that Sybil experiences in her head in an eloquent, fascinating way. Now finally, scenes in the cut version make sense because the scenes that were removed before or after them are included (Dr. Wilbur's concern that she's pushed Sybil too far, Sybil's affection for her neighbor/boyfriend who reminds her of a childhood friend, the conversation between Dr. Wilbur and Sybil's father, and on and on.) It is a crime that this hasn't been given a real DVD release when I think of the junk that is taking up space at the store. This is a tour de force from Sally Field, but I have to say I really love Joanne Woodward's work here. Her Dr. Wilbur is absolutely convincing and you understand why this woman could help Sybil heal.
on August 26, 2006
I first watched this movie in Health class in 11th grade in the late '90s. Some people in our class had to leave the room when the teacher warned about some of the things Sybil's sick mother was going to do to her in the kitchen. I searched everywhere to buy my own copy but only found a poor quality VHS copy on eBay. Also read the book by Flora Rheta Schrieber (which has eerie drawings by Sybil, including a christmas card for Dr Wilbur where the tree ornament is cracked in half).
Sally Field is extraordinary. Wow. I almost start crying when she sings the "Easter Bonnet" song at Dr Wilbur's apartment, and she's in tears because she wants to sing it just right.
So much stuff in this movie creeps me out - the buttonhook, the whole kitchen scene, her mother tripping her down the stairs and cruelly saying, "Have a nice trip, see you next fall!", the dream with all those evil cats (she awakens climbing the bookcase), the purple crayon in the trunk, banging windows so hard that she breaks them, and when she would look in a mirror but see one of her young personalities staring back.
Some of the music is quite haunting...the high voices of children singing is what I remember the most.
Even after watching this, I can hardly imagine a tenth of all the trauma Sybil had to endure at the sadistic hands of her schizophrenic mother. Her mother needed to be committed and the father should have stepped up and noticed some things. It would have been better if the dr across the street had adopted her. And it's a miracle that she didn't kill herself - Dr. Wilbur really helped her a lot, but I don't think Joanne Woodward (Dr. Wilbur) should have been nominated for an Emmy.
Classic. If you're a Sally Field fan, a psych major or interested AT ALL in mental disorders, watch this movie.
on February 24, 2006
Sybil is a testament to how good television can be. In one mighty stroke Field not only redefined her public image and launched her career as a serious actor, she also set an nearly impossibly high bar for actors to follow. By comparison most television offerings seem flat, self conscious and even antiquated. Woodward is so natural as her smart , capable, compassionate doctor that it's easy to forget she's only "playing one on tv". And Martine Bartlett as Sybil's beastly, schizophrenic mother -- a thankless role to the 10th power -- is insanely brilliant. Under the fine, ginger hand of director Daniel Pietre, who had the rare sense to know when to move out of the way and let his actors work, was born a masterpiece. The bar he set back in 1976 remains the gold standard.
on June 20, 2006
SYBIL is most definately one of the most engrossing and thrilling masterpieces in the Made-for-TV movie genre. A stiringly haunting energetic Emmy Award winning performance by Sally Field (who at the time we only knew as "Gidget" and "The Flying Nun" which only made her performance here all that much more enthralling), as a troubled young woman trying to cope with a life full of blackouts and sometimes lengthy periods of lost time. Sybil finds herself at the mercy of Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, a psychiatrist (brilliantly portrayed by Joanne Woodward), who discovers through her therapy with Sybil a total of no less than 16 separate personalities. This is the story of their struggle toward bringing Sybil together as a whole person again.
The only reservations I have about this movie, is the fact that it so totally vears away from the story as told in the book that it could lead one to believe the movie writers must have just taken a few names from the book and wrote their own story. Although I still find the movie to be outstanding in it's own right, and fully deserving of a 5-star rating.)
My advice to you is if you get this DVD, get the book as well - and read it. If you think Sybil the movie had you glued to your set, you'll be amazed at how much more enthralling the true story of Sybil really is!
on August 30, 2006
I first saw glimpses of this movie when it was first on TV in `76 and I was just a kid. I remember walking through the room and seeing parts of it on my way through. Those short glimpses had freaked me out for years. From what I saw then it was a horror movie. I suppose it still is. When I finally saw it years later, I was able to watch it for what it was: the story of a tragic childhood and how it had produced the women named Sybil, Peggy, Vicky, and thirteen others.
I never could understand why this movie was never available in its full length when every part of it is important to the story. I was able to make my own choppy copy, cutting out commercials, that I watched countless times. To put this new full length version in my DVD player and watch it was like watching a whole different movie. The color in itself made it stand out to make it seem like I was watching it for the first time.
I'm not a critic. I love movies. This is a true story. I've read the book. If you have any interest in the workings of the mind and the way the lack of nurturing and abuse can cripple a person into adulthood, this is the movie to watch. It may scare you, but that's a good thing. This stuff is real, and though multiple personalities is a rare illness, there are tons of adults around us that are shunned because they are different, when in fact they are lost and lonely because of tragic childhoods. There are children all around us that will grow up lost and lonely and will thus be shunned also. With mental illness on the back burner a greater understanding of it needs too brought to the foreground if we are ever to anything about it. If we never stop to help the adults that come out of childhood, we will never stop the abuse and neglect of children. It will continue to be a senseless cycle.