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Sybil 1976

A young woman whose childhood was so harrowing to her that she developed at least 13 different personalities...

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Solar rating:9.4


Imdb rating:8



This movie has some of the best acting I have ever seen, especially from Sally Fields. Whether or not this story is real (as it is being constantly challenged) does not matter. Fields' performance is spellbinding - I even gave up watching Desperate Housewives to finish it. Her ability to stay in character for Peggy, Mary, Vicki, and all the others is amazing. I would definitely reccommend this to anyone 16 years or older, as there are some incredibly sad and disgusting parts.

1976 (listed on VHS box 1977)

Director: Daniel Petrie


Starring: Sally Field and Joanne Woodward

Grade: B+

Sybil is the hanting made-for-TV tale of the life of Sybil, powerfully potrayed by Sally Field. Sybil frequently finds herself blacking out and then coming-too; sometimes, hours, days, weeks, and-once-2 years later. Often she would find herself in a different dress, or even different city... as if life had been going on without her. Often these black-outs result in troubling scenes.

Sybil has always thought of this as normal, thinking it happened to everyone. While having a job as a substitute teacher guiding children along through central park she finds herself having a flashback and then awakes to herself standing in the middle of the large fountain. Later, she finds herself cutting her wrist as she bashes open her apartment window.

Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, a psychologist, (compassionately played by Joanne Woodward), takes on Sybil's troubles to discover several various personalities within Sybil. These personalities are each a piece of something lost as a child growing up under the dominance of a wicked, Christion-zealot mother, Hattie (played by a vicious Martine Bartlett).

Emotional and physical torture were performed by Hattie, which she supported by saying that life wasn't all sweetness and singing, that there was bad, too. Daily, Hattie cleans Sybil's insides by scraping and cutting up her insides, and pumping her up with water. She learned religion by hearing her mom chant "God is love," as she locks her in a chest in the attic.

Sybil is a film that thoroughly horrifies you with images of various children (representing various personalities) stuck in a hazy, hidden common-room that is Sybil's imagination. It horrifies you to witness a helpless little girl be abused by a righteous mother in such unnatural ways, not only Sybil's not being able to live as a happy little girl, but being tortured by built-up secrets she refuses to remember herself througout her whole life. It is horrifying to know that there were always other people in Sybil's life that never tried to help her. You grow to love Sybil, and ache for her aches, and cry for her fears, to feel helpless for her. This movie truly is a great achievement in film, impeded only by a moderately sluggish pace.

This is a movie you will not soon forget.


Sally Field won an Emmy for her captivating potrayal of Sybil.

This review refers to the 122 minute version of the film, not the full 198 minute film presented in the two-part mini-series. To date there hasn't been a DVD of the 198 minute version of the film.
Powerfully acted by Sally Field in a career changing and incredible performance. Good supporting cast as well. Disturbing and powerful, but way way way overlong, easily it's biggest problem. They could have shaved an hour off without it effecting the films effect.
The Prestige: I really liked this movie. I liked the story. I liked the actors. Scarlet Johanssen was always my least favorite actress but I am starting to like her.

A Prairie Home Companion: This was far from what I was expecting but entertaining. I liked all the stars & the music. It was a fun movie though a little weird.

The Illusionist: I liked this movie alot. I did figure it out half way through, which I never do, but I didn't feel let down. I still enjoyed the rest.

Sybil: I know this is an old one but it was the first time I saw it. And OMG, I was glued to the TV. It was like watching a train wreck & I cried. Sally Field was excellent in the part.

Akeelah & The Bee: This was a real good feel good movie. I loved how it turned out in the end. My 11 year old loved it too, good family movie, for sure
Simply put, this film is a tour de force.
Sybil took me by surprise. I had seen the film before when I was a child, and was aware of the horrible things that had been done to Sybil, but as an adult, I was not ready for the emotional power this film contains. Broadcast on television in the fall of 1976, Sybil is based on the true story of a woman who is suffering from a multiple personality disorder (Dissociative Identity Disorder) as a result of her mother (Jane Hoffman) beating and torturing her as a child. As an adult, Sybil (Sally Field) begins seeing Dr. Cornelia Wilbur (Joanne Woodward) in an effort to get to the root of her disorder.

The film is three hours long and moves a little slow at points, but overall the film is a magnificent piece of work. You may want to leave your popcorn behind, because Sybil feels less like entertainment and more like a documentary. As we join Sybil and Dr. Wilbur on their journey through Sybil's psyche, we meet many different personalities, including a little girl who is scared of "the people" (who we later learn is one person, Sybil's abusive mother, who is now deceased), a sophisticated teenager who can speak french, and a melancholy girl who is determined to kill Sybil to release her from the pain and misery of her life. There are several other personalities we see along the way. Each one containing certain feelings and abilities that Sybil is unable to feel or do in her own life.

The film grabs you emotionally on different levels. The first time that I felt the tears well up in my eyes is when Sybil (as her little girl personality) is screaming and crying and crawl on top of a chair in the hotel room where she has gone (as another personality) to commit suicide. Before this scene, another personality calls Dr. Wilbur who shows up to save Sybil from jumping from the hotel window. All the pain and anguish that comes out of Sally Field in her performance in the hotel scene, is amazing. The changing of the personalities and the changing of emotions is something that most actors could not have pulled off, at least not nearly as convincing as Sally Field has here.

Along with Sybil's disorder effecting her work, it also puts a strain on her romantic life, as she befriends her neighbor, Richard Loomis (Brad Davis) and falls in love with him. Sybil's erratic behavior goes virtually unnoticed by Richard for a time, although Richard's son is aware of the personalities. It is not until later on that Richard sees the full range of Sybil's disorder.

Later we see more scenes of Sybil's mother and how she abused Sybil when she was a child. Tripping her when she is on the stairs, slamming the kitchen door in her face, and kicking her when Sybil comes to her for a hug. But that's just the beginning, as the memories come flooding out, so do the depths of the tortures Sybil endured. Eventually Dr. Wilbur decides to do more research on the case and she visits Sybil's father, who reluctantly informs Dr. Wilbur that his wife was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. Dr. Wilbur also visits the old family doctor who confesses to some knowledge of what was happening to Sybil, and finally, the old house where the events took place. While there Dr. Wilbur finds evidence of the tortures.

The climax of the film will pull at your heart and bring tears to your eyes, but they are more than tears of sadness, they are tears of relief and joy as well.
We watched Sybil for our psychology class, and it was superb. Sally Field knocks it out of the park playing the fragmented title character, and the supporting cast is great, too. For a TV production, especially, I was totally impressed. Good writing, music, pacing, and editing.
I wasn't expecting much when I loaded this into the video recorder 10+ years ago. What an incredibly powerful movie! Sally Field is simply brilliant & Joanne Woodward helps set her a perfect stage. I think this was the first movie I watched as an adult that made me cry.
Such a dramatic and attention getting movie. The actors were fantastic and Sally Field was outstanding with all her different personalities, how does she do it? Joanne Woodward was so good as the supportive doctor and friend. I am just glad this True Story ended well. The terrible agony and mental trauma that Sybil had to endure was unbelievable. This was such a good film and I would recommend it to everyone.
Child Abuse 101#
This is a perfect example of what happends when You destroy
the world of a child sad sad count ..
I could not have servived THE GREEN KITCHEN !!!
The Real SYBIL DIED in 2008 And She Took Her HAunting Memories with her .. May She Rest In Peace!!!
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