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Homeless to Harvard - The Liz Murray Story

4.4 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

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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

Amazon.com

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

Special Features

None.

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: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002J4ZZU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,649 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Homeless to Harvard - The Liz Murray Story" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Tong on January 27, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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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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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 Amazon.com, 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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Liz Murray was a guest speaker at a statewide agents meeting that I attended, and I drove her to the airport after her presentation. It was great getting to talk with her about her presentation and her story on that short trip, and later ordered the movie which was made of her true story. It was a story of struggle, pain, and heartache, but she turned it into a tale of beating the odds and ultimately of survival and triumph. It is a very fine film, and getting to know the yound lady who lived and is living that life, was an experience that taught me that there is always hope that we can all overcome and improve our lot in life, no matter what the circumstances may be.
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Saw this years ago on TV and always wanted to watch it again. I purchased this to show in my groups of women that I work with at a minimum security prison. Great motivational movie showing that with perseverance and hard work, people can have a good life.
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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 an excuse to underperform. She learned and acted on the fact that hard work was what was needed to succeed and she was not afraid to do it. And she verbally attributed her success, not to luck or brains, but to hard work.
If you follow her life after Harvard, you will find her very inspirational as well. Well worth whatever you pay for this.
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Very well done. It doesn't come off as too tainted by the movie industry, so it feels like you're getting the real story and not just some fake counterfeit. It's inspiring and serves to shake up any excuses we may put up for not overcoming. Good family movie despite the tough subject matter. I give it 5 stars because it was that good and because I did my research before purchasing it.
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