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Drama, Biography
IMDB rating:
Daniel Petrie
Sally Field as Sybil
Harold Pruett as Danny (as Harold Pruitt)
Natasha Ryan as Child Sybil
Tommy Crebbs as Matthew
Jessamine Milner as Grandma Dorsett
Charles Lane as Dr. Quinoness
William Prince as Willard Dorsett
Joanne Woodward as Dr. Cornelia Wilbur
Jane Hoffman as Frieda Dorsett
Brad Davis as Richard
Gina Petrushka as Dr. Lazarus
Penelope Allen as Miss Penny
Storyline: The true story of a young woman named Sybil, whose childhood was so harrowing to her that she developed at least 13 different personalities.
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
DVD-rip 352x256 px 698 Mb mpeg4 521 Kbps avi Download
I can't emphasize how underrated this film is!
What a moving, outstandingly brilliant film starring Joanne Woodward, Brad Davies and Sally Field who won an Emmy for her unforgettably, rare and treasuring performance as the susceptible and disturbed Sybil!

Psychological drama, based on a true story; Sally Field stars as Sybil Dorset, a 20-something supply-teacher who suffered unspeakably horrifying treatment from her volatile mother (Martine Bartlett) and subsequently developed sixteen different personalities. With the help of her caring psychiatrist (Joanne Woodward), she slowly but surely learns how to identify herself.

Sally Field could have been the Meryl Streep-like actress of this generation. Before watching Sybil, I was unaware of her erratic next role and as such was intrigued upon discovering she played a woman with multiple personalities. Watching her portray each character thoroughly is overwhelming and cherished. It's a shame both she Sybil are so underrated and ignored.

Joanne Woodward is equally cherished in her role as the sympathetic and patient psychiatrist who nurses Sybil back to a normal woman. She too seems rather underrated as I'd never heard of her until I watched Sybil. I may need to consider delving into her CV for some good movies to get a hold on.

The only problem with the video I managed to snatch off eBay was that fact it was a pirate copy AND didn't even get to the end of the sodding film! Despite getting towards the end of the film is still sadly disrupted my enjoyment of Sybil and now I don't know how it ends. I've posted a message on the message board and hope to have an answer from someone soon. However, all of what I watched was incredibly excellent and as I said earlier - overwhelming.

My only question would be why the hell hasn't this been released on DVD? Or even screened on British TV?! I will not rest until amazon.com sees sense and releases the full four hour, uncut version. With a range of special features, including commentary from both Sally Field and Joanne Woodward, a documentary on Shirley Ardell Mason - the real Sybil who passed away back in 1998 and a selection of different languages - including Spanish and French - for non-English speaking viewers.

UPDATE: To my delight, I have recently realized that whoever they are have finally seen sense and agreed for a two disk, full, uncut version of the original Sybil - accompanied with several special features - is to be released on May 23rd 2006. To celebrate its 30th anniversary. I've already marked it in my calendar. Tick-tock ... tick-tock ... tick-tock ...
Jessamine Milner, the "Grandma"
This was a deeply harrowing movie to watch, and unbelievably so when it came out in 1976. A small child in the grip of her homicidally insane mother, who inflicted sadistic torture on her, while her ineffective husband looked the other way when the signs of abuse were obvious.

There's a small performance in this movie that haunted me more than almost anything else in the film; the part of the grandmother, played by Jessamine Milner, who was as much a victim and prisoner in the home of her psychotic daughter as Sybil was. The difference was she was aware of the extent of her daughter's insanity.

What must it be like to be a prisoner in your own adult child's home, knowing she is inflicting abuse on your grandchild and will do the same to you if you speak? That kind of helplessness must be sheer hell to live with. She could have told her son-in-law or the police at any time (if she was able to get out of the house), but would they have done anything? Or turned a blind eye, considering the time?

Jessamine Milner's performance was so honest and affecting, it stands out as one of the most painful parts of the film, and she is in only two minutes of it! She was born in 1894, and was almost 80 when she made the film. She apparently was in her mid-seventies when she went into film! She's a mystery, and other than her few TV appearances in the late 70s, nothing apparently is known about her. However, she deserves a mention somewhere because of her performance in this difficult to watch film.
Re release of 'Sybil' 1976
I am so glad the film is being released later this month. I saw this film when I was much younger and have been trying to get a copy for ages. I actually taped the film when it was on TV but loaned it to a friend who never returned it....typical. The film is so moving and so well acted by all who took part. Can't wait to see it again and show my husband and daughters what I have always raved about. Sally Field plays the part of Sybil as if she were actually Sybil herself. Joanne Woodward is fantastic. I can't understand why so few people that I have spoken to don't know much about the film. Obviously, as I was only around 16 years old at the time, a lot of the film is missing in my mind but for it to stay in my head for 30 years proves what an impact it made at the time. I am sure, upon its new release, It will hit the headlines enormously. Making way for a re make. Can they find actors and actresses as good as played in the first film? We will have to wait and see !!!!!!!!!
Sybil is worthwhile viewing
Sally Field does a wonderful job recounting the true life story of the process that 'Sybil' underwent with the help of her therapist to deal with her multiple personalities. Field is wonderful in this role. She demonstrates here the same depth that she demonstrates in later films like "Steel Magnolias'. As always, JoAnne Woodward does a superb job playing the therapist.

This is a difficult movie to watch at times because it retells the trauma that 'Sybil' went through, but it is a very good film because the actors make you forget they are acting. Lastly, the technical aspects of the film like the transition and action scenes use somewhat dated techniques that are not as smooth as the processes we are used to seeing in today's movies.
Vivid, unsettling true story given enormous stature by Joanne Woodward and Emmy-winning Sally Field.
How does one survive, much less overcome, long-standing child abuse? Newscasts are littered with the more unusual, horrific stories - children imprisoned in closets or chained to beds with little more than food or water; tiny children dying in hot, sweltering autos or stuffed into car trunks while a parent works. In yesterday's paper alone, an archbishop of a progressive church was charged with the strangulation of a 15-year-old girl he sexually assaulted for years, while on the opposite page a woman and her boyfriend were charged with beating two of her children with a metal pipe, their battered bodies bearing the marks of years of abuse. How does a child get through this WHILE IT IS HAPPENING? Somehow, some way they MUST build up some sort of mental toughness or defense mechanism to combat the agony and fear - either by tuning out or systematically shutting down -- going into deep states of denial and emotional withdrawal. And then there is Sybil Dorsett...

Sally Field is unforgettable as the titular victim of incessant child abuse, a woman who dissolved into SIXTEEN separate and distinct personalities in order to cope with a mother who inflicted indescribable childhood tortures. She is nothing short of amazing, especially in her "dissociative" scenes as she morphs with lightning speed into one or more of her "inner family" -- a combative, self-assertive Peggy Lou, a mothering but suicidal Mary, a vivacious, ambitious Vicky, a frightened, thumb-sucking Sybil Ann, or even an athletically-inclined Mike. All of them personalities created and programmed unconsciously by Sybil to endure any situation she herself couldn't handle, and triggered by almost anything -- a hostile argument, piano music, certain colors, street sounds, even a word.

What is incredible about Field's performance as Sybil (not her real name) is the ability to tear down her own barriers to such an extent that she can revert into a flood of strange babblings or shockingly infantile behavior at the drop of a hat. It is such a compelling and all-consuming feat that these scenes come off almost improvisatory in style. One particular marvel of a scene has Sybil's psychologist discovering her patient, an artist by nature, lodged under a piano taken over by one of her more immature personalities, tormented by thunderous sounds of Dvorak and Beethoven, illustrating her torment on paper with brightly-colored crayons. It is to director Daniel Petrie's credit that he was able to create such a safe environment for Field to let herself go like this. With "Sybil," Field, who won an Emmy, forever dispelled any theories that she was a one-note actress trapped with a Gidget-like cuteness.

In an ironic bit of casting, Joanne Woodward essays the role of Sybil's psychologist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, who finally pinpoints Sybil's mental disability and starts her on the long, arduous journey of putting the "selves" back together. Woodward won an Academy Award decades earlier as a similar victim of MPD (multiple personality disorder) in a curious but ultimately heavy-handed and very dated film "The Three Faces of Eve." Woodward is superb here as a professional clearly out of her element but determined to find a light at the end of the tunnel for this poor, unfortunate girl.

The late Brad Davis, as an unsuspecting acquaintance who wants to get to know Sybil better, adds a tender, sympathetic chapter to Sybil's turbulent life, while William Prince and Jane Hoffman are compelling as Sybil's bloodless father and stepmother who offer puzzling, ignorant explanations to Sybil's "problem." Charles Lane has a significant scene as Sybil's small-town doctor (as a child) who failed to report his examination findings, and little Natasha Ryan, in flashback sequences, must be commended for reenacting the more harrowing details of Sybil's childhood torment. Jessamine Milner as Sybil's grandmother has a few affecting moments as a doting grandma who offers Sybil brief moments of respite.

However, the most chilling portrait of evil you'll ever witness on TV goes hands down to stocky, harsh-looking Martine Bartlett as Sybil's monster of a mother. She lends horrifying believability to the fragmented, unbalanced woman who gets sadistic pleasure out of her routine torturous acts. Bartlett, a respected stage actress little seen on film, was known for another bizarre but fascinating screen role as a crazy, self-abusing mental patient in "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." As Hattie Dorsett, she displays subtle, calculating menace, which makes her even more terrifying, as she devises a number of "games" to inflict on her only child. Some of these scenes are extremely repelling and graphic in nature, but it is all handled as responsibly as possible, considering the actual incidents DID occur.

Hopefully seeing this dark, disturbing, but ultimately important TV-movie will inspire you to read Flora Rheta Schreiber's best selling book, which details Sybil's childhood, blackout episodes (the real Sybil once woke up finding out she had missed the entire sixth grade(!), therapy sessions, the battle of alter-egos for control of Sybil, and the subsequent unifying process, through the professional vantage point of Dr. Wilbur and with more depth. Trust me, you won't be able to put it down and you'll never question the boundaries and/or consequences of child abuse again.

WARNING - Don't rent the confusing, chopped-up two-hour version, also available on tape. This was a two-part, over three-hour long drama when initially shown and THIS version is what rates a "10."
More than 20 years later, I still remember this riveting and emotional movie.
I was only 10 when I saw this on TV but still remember scenes vividly from it (I believe I watched it again since). Sally Field is awesome as she portrays a woman who was abused as a child by her mother and has developed multiple personalities as a result. It is fascinating and heart-breaking as the psychologist played by Joanne Woodward (also very good) uncovers all her personalities and reveals the suppressed memories which caused them. I can't recommend this movie enough. 10/10
Great but very tense
A wonderful movie, but very tense and fairly disturbing. It's a movie about a young woman suffering from dissociative identity disorder caused by an abusive mother, who I believe had schizophrenia -- though that isn't mentioned. It goes through the process of healing for the girl, Sybil, slowly revealing the things that caused her to break apart. It's touching, but can be very tense. I do NOT suggest letting anyone under the age of 16 watch it myself. But it's very good and an insightful look into the illness. If you have any interest in movies about real life, I highly suggest it. The special effects during a dream sequence are rather amusing, but the actual acting jobs are convincing and hold your attention. Each character seems realistic, rather than overdone or underdone -- so if overly dramatic movies are your thing this may not be a good movie for you. Overall, I really enjoyed it...even if it did leave me feeling a bit uneasy.
Sybil DVD was both informative and disappointing
The 30th anniversary DVD edition of Sybil was released in July. As Shirley Mason's (aka Sybil)long time friend, I was included in the documentary about the making of the movie. The documentary is a fascinating recap of how the movie was cast and how it came to be. However, I was disappointed that Shirley Mason is not mentioned anywhere in the documentary, and her name is not even shown on her paintings in the gallery. Shirley was a person to me, not a fictional character. I was told that her name couldn't be mentioned because of contractual agreements with the author of the book. Shirley Mason WAS Sybil and her life as an artist in Kentucky should not be minimized. Since Sybil is a story of abuse, but also one of recovery, I feel my friend was denied the recognition she deserves as a survivor of abuse, as a wonderful artist, as a warm, kind lady who lived a quiet life of dignity in Lexington. If and when my book, Life After Sybil... From the Words of Shirley Mason, gets published, I intend to correct that omission. Regards, Sybil's Friend ... Nancy Preston
Nice and underrated movie, with an amazing Sally Field performance
This is a movie that really impressed me with how much it is able to draw you in, make you relate with the characters and shock you with the psychological elements of it. Although the validity of the diagnosis of Multiple Personalities and Repressed Memories are still subject of debate, and until this day a lot of controversy exists over the book (apparently most of it was fabricated, specially the part of multiple personalities, which was mostly the result of suggestion by Dr. Wilbur to make things more interesting and monetize over the story), this is a very involving movie, with incredible acting and that dated very well. Kudos for Sally Field and her amazing rendition of a psychiatric patient, and also for Joanne Woodward and Brad Davis, and their respective moving performances as Dr. Wilbur and Sybil's neighbor.

This was initially made for TV, shown in 2 parts and having a total run of 3 hours. I strongly recommend that you get the DVD with the whole 198 minutes (I didn't see the abridged version). The cuts for commercial breaks show, but they won't bother you too much. It's very well directed and edited for its time, and everyone's acting is incredible.

Some people say that this movie was a breakthrough in treatment of Multiple Personalities (called DID nowadays, which stands for Dissociative Identity Disorder), while others blame it for the creation of an "industry of Repressed Memories". I strongly advise that you do your research about it, so you'll be aware of the controversy and the lack of consensus that those themes still face between professionals of the area (if you're interested about my opinion, I'm very suspicious about repressed memories, and it surely sounds to me like something that could be used to take advantage of people, but I don't have an opinion about DID, although it is said to be one of the most controversial dissociative disorders). However, do it AFTER seeing this movie, so it won't impair your ability to relate with the character of Sybil and prevent you from enjoying the movie. There are some really shocking things that will happen, so be prepared. The plot unravels very nicely, and it also treats the relationships between the characters very delicately, so the film never feels hushed and, although its running time is long, this is not boring or hard to digest, and it's a really enjoyable experience. Definitely worth the watch.

Rating: 7,5/10 (I round ratings down)
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