Throughout this movie, I was so engrossed with the character of Temple Grandin that I truly believed that Temple was playing herself in the movie. That is how good Claire Danes was in the role. The movie was made for TV and received five Emmy awards, one by Claire Danes for Best Actress in a Drama.
Temple Grandin is an autistic woman who has struggled her entire life with her disability. She did not speak until she was four years old. With the help of her mother and a particular high school teacher, Dr. Carlock, played by David Strathairn, she was able to compensate for her ailment through her extraordinary ability for remembering details and to use this talent to benefit others.
Her interest in animals originated when she spent summers at her aunt’s farm. She was hesitant to go off to college because others did not understand her peculiar ways. While there, she invented a squeeze box or hug machine which calmed her down when she became overwhelmed. This makeshift machine is used today with other autistic children.
Her high school teacher, Dr. Carlock, encouraged her to go into animal husbandry which was not a field to which woman ordinarily aspired. Surprisingly, she was the valedictorian of her college class, went on to obtain a Master’s Degree and then a Doctorate in animal science.
While doing her internship, she became aware of the inhumane way that cows were treated on the way to the slaughter house. In her mind’s eye, she was able to construct a path for the cows which would not drown them while going through the dip and would not make them afraid as they progressed through the maze. During this period, she was treated with great disrespect just because she was a woman in this extraordinary field.
A very moving part of the story occurred when she and her mother attended an Autistic Conference after much of her career success had already happened. She willingly spoke to the parents of autistic children about her own personal trials with autism. They clamored for more information from her. She has since become a strong advocate for the understanding of Autism and also for humane treatment of animals on the way to slaughter.
I chose this movie to view because one of my daughters teaches autistic children and I wanted to obtain insight into this problem. I have such respect for Temple Grandin after learning her story, as well as for Claire Danes who did such a tremendous job of impersonating Temple Grandin and her mannerisms. Temple Grandin is currently a professor at Colorado State University.
Movie – Temple Grandin – HBO (2010)