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The story tells of a young woman admitting to having blackouts, fearing they are getting worse. She is diagnosed as suffering from multiple personalities, as a result of severe abuse at the hands of her mother, whom her psychiatrist, Cornelia Wilbur, believes was schizophrenic. The movie Sibyl is based upon author Flora Rheta Schreiber's biography of Shirley Ardell Mason, an American psychiatric patient, suffering from multiple personality disorder. The book, also called Sibyl, was in its turn based largely on the actual accounts of psychiatric treatment that Shirley Ardell Mason underwent, documented by American psychiatrist Cornelia WilburWritten by
Joanne Woodward, who plays the Doctor, starred in another famous film about multiple personalities, The Three Faces of Eve (1957) where she starred as the titular Eve. However, unlike Sybil, she had only a trio of personalities. See more »
On the day Sybil meets Dr. Wilbur, just before she "awakens" in the doctor's office we see a close shot of Dr. Wilbur's right hand as she takes notes. There is a ring on the doctor's right index finger. Then we switch immediately to wider shot of the doctor still writing, but there is no longer a ring on her right hand. It is clear that there was no break in writing between the shots. See more »
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
I saw this film a few times, and loved Sally Field's performance. Here we see a grown up who blocks out the memories of a harrowing child abuse. What we discover is that Sybil learns to protect the psychological "inner child" by developing personalities that are warm and comforting. The way she unlocks the real Sybil is by therapy with a Dr. Wilbur.This film does not portray childhood as rosey and bright;We see the poor child hung up by a rope as the mom administers an enima.We see the mother lock her in a dark box.From the film,We understand the "hands' of evil belonged to a person Sybil dearly loved and trusted. The way Dr. Wilbur helps Sybil is to unite the personalities together in one. We hear Sybil say "I love You" as she hugs herself;That expression of affection was what the poor child never heard growing up. What this film teaches us, is to believe in our own worth and gain strength in our abilities. I loved Joanne Wooodward, and her character helps Sybil find the perfect person she truly was.
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