Sybil (TV Mini-Series 1976)

TV Mini-Series   |    |  Biography, Drama


Episode Guide
Sybil (1976) Poster

A young woman whose childhood was so harrowing to her that she developed sixteen different personalities is treated by a doctor.


8/10
6,329

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27 February 2008 | mercuryix2003
7
| 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.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sybil's switching back to her core personality is usually signaled by her putting on her glasses.


Quotes

Dr. Cornelia Wilbur: I'm going to let you hear yourself play the piano.
Sybil: I can't play the piano anymore. I used to play. I can't play it anymore.
Dr. Cornelia Wilbur: Well, this is a part of you that calls herself Vanessa, and she can. She plays beautifully.


Goofs

In the scene where Sybil and Dr. Wilbur are at the piano, Sybil begins playing With a Song in My Heart, however her hands are still on top of the piano when the music begins.


Alternate Versions

The original TV-version ran two nights for a total of four hours (198 minutes minus the commercials). Most video copies are pared down in length, one running 122 minutes and another "expanded" to 132 minutes. Both these versions are missing key scenes such as:

  • The introduction of of the alternate personality "Vanessa"
  • Sybil's first date with Richard
  • Her recollection of her childhood sweetheart.
  • Sybil dissociating into the personality of an infant, leading to Dr. Wilbur's memorable statements "My god Sybil, what did that monster do to you? What happened in the green kitchen?"
  • Dr. Wilbur confronting Willard Dorsett over him having left his daughter in the care of such an obvious and dangerously disturbed woman as Hattie
  • Sybil's two male personalities arguing with Dr. Wilbur about them being able to father children
  • Sybil finally confronting and learning to accept all of her personalities while under hypnosis

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Biography | Drama

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