Lorenzo's Oil - Film Synopsis and Analysis

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4th Sep 2017 Film Studies Reference this

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Lorenzo’s oil touches the hearts of most as you watch the story of a young boy battling adrenoleukodystrophy or ALD. The story is based off a true story as the parents, Augusto and Michaela Odone, take care and search with uncertainty for a cure for their son Lorenzo. The story identifies with those who suffer from an incurable disease which neurologically effects Lorenzo’s life. The oil, found by Lorenzo’s dad, brings hope to him and his family. Lorenzo’s battle is fought with courage and strength and he identifies with so many important subtopics in our class such as: disease and illness, death and dying, and the body. Lorenzo’s battle will show us how one struggles with disease and illness but strives with his loved ones by his side.

Lorenzo begins to show signs of neurological problems when he and his family move back to the United States for his dad’s military work. Lorenzo begins to show signs such as fits, lapses, and hearing problems. Lorenzo’s parents set out on a mission to find a cure for the incurable disease he has. The Odone’s have many encounters with doctors/ professionals. The work done from parent to professional shows the strive in the Odone’s hopes to find a cure for their son. After being told that there is no cure by some doctors, they begin to travel and meet with many different people, doctors, scientists, researchers, etc., who are willing to do all they can to help find a cure for their son. These professionals give an examples of how well some professionals work with the parents rather than the patients in this case.

The Odone’s can barely watch as their son’s health declines and knows it is up to them to set out to find a cure. While researching so many different aids, the Odone’s come up with one last final shot. His parents, declined by many researchers again, finally discuss a “cure” with a Chemist involving oils to add to their son’s daily diet. The oil helps in repair in some of the damaged parts of the brain but does not aid in repairing the myelin deficiency in the brain. Mr. Odone takes it into his own hands to seek out an appeal of medical research and efforts to treat myelin damage and or deficiencies in the brain of ill patients.

Lorenzo deals with his illness very strongly. As he begins to lose neurological functions, life becomes much harder. He is not treated horribly by many doctors; he is more the less treated like a boy with a disease that has no cure. Lorenzo battles his illness with as positive a mind set as possible, as he begins to take the oil, he feels little relief and shows improvement, but the improvement is not enough to save him from this horrible disease. He later is only able to blink yes or no and can barely swallow on his own. Thankfully for Lorenzo he continues to keep his sight which is a beautiful gift he is pleased to still have.

In researching the medical response to the movie, the film was criticized to have given the idealistic view of finding a “cure”, which was not found. Research done regarding Lorenzo’s disease has shown little to no effect of taking the oil during the illness, but shows results when taken before the illness. The real Lorenzo Odone, lived to be 30 and died of pneumonia in 2008, living two decades longer than predicted by physicians. In the movie, the Odone’s compare their studies to those done by animal experimentation finding vague results in the process.

I feel as if the events of the film played out appropriately. Being hard to accept the news of an incurable illness, Lorenzo’s parents react more strongly than he does. Lorenzo accepts his disease as anyone must once they are told they have something inoperable. The only thing which could have been done differently in the film was not acting as if they found a “cure” but more the less acting as if they found an agent that helps one who suffers from ALD.

In the movie and in the real life story, I do not feel as if there is any one who deserves the blame. Blame cannot fall on anyone as Lorenzo has a disease with no cure. Really in reality praises deserve to be given to Lorenzo’s parents for attempting to find a cure for there son. The Doctor’s deserve praise for there attempts at finding cure as well. The only blame can be on the disease itself.

The general public and prospective health care providers can learn very many things from this film. The general public can learn that horrible diseases can happen to anyone. The general public can also learn from this that parents and family members can do so many things to help their child or loved one. Anyone can become involved in helping whether its just by doing little things. For example, my mother suffers from ulcerative colitis and last year I did a triathlon and raised money for Crohn’s and Colitis research we raised near $2,000 for research. The general public can do so many things to aid in the development of a cure for diseases.

Health care providers can learn both positive and negative things from this film. Health care providers can learn never to give up on a family and let them try to do what they can to help a child or a loved one. Health care providers can also see that parents typically do not have the equipment or information needed to find a “cure” for a loved one although they can put their foot in to help. Health care providers in this instance should see the glass half full rather than half empty.

Patients can learn so many positive and negative things from this film as well. Patients can learn that people can have an effect in finding a “cure”. Patients can also learn not to count on a “cure” for a disease that is incurable. Patients can learn that some doctors will treat them with respect while others will not. Patients can also learn that researchers do care and they will help as much as they can to aid in a patient’s health.

Lorenzo learns that his health, disease, and illness although incurable can be fought with compassion and strength. Lorenzo who was diagnosed with his illness at the age of 7 technically could not do much for himself at the time of diagnoses. Lorenzo takes his illness day by day. Lorenzo slowly loses neurological functions every day. He struggles with impairments everyday like lapses and tantrums. These lead Lorenzo to question his body and wonder how much more it could handle but Lorenzo never gave up and fought his body until the age of 30, two decades longer than doctors expected.

Lorenzo never truly was considered disabled more the less just ill. I would have considered Lorenzo’s illness a disability. Lorenzo was beginning to lose functions and that in my opinion would classify as a disability. Being disabled to me is when someone is not able to function regularly without assistance whether their disability be visible or invisible. Lorenzo needed help from his parents after his illness became severe thus classifying him as disabled to me.

Lorenzo seems to avoid the reality of death and dying. Lorenzo truly avoids death and dying by defying the odds and surviving his illness for two decades longer than expected. I would assume that as a child one cannot grasp the thought of death or dying, but more the less just barely be able to understand that he is sick with an incurable illness. Being 7 years old, death does not seem to be a realistic thing. I think back to when I was 7 and would never be able to comprehend the fact that I am ill and could die whenever from a horribly rare incurable disease.

Lorenzo also faces the sad reality that his own body is fighting against him. The body being a wonderful but terrifying place takes over without Lorenzo being able to do anything to stop it. The oil that Lorenzo is given has a certain amount of fatty acid chains which attack the part of the brain that is being affected by ALD. Unfortunately, ALD had already taken its toll on other parts of his brain including the myelin sheath which help protect neurotransmitters in sending messages from cell to cell. The body did not reject nor accept the treatment but rather just let the treatment work on his body. The treatment may have helped his body at an earlier stage but its not as if his family predicted he would get a rare disease like ALD.

Lorenzo and his family face a series of unfortunate events upon the development of this horrible disease in their son. ALD is a disease linked to the X chromosome. First this disease effects fatty acid buildups and then damages the myelin sheath within the brain. These lead to lack of hearing, lapses, seizures, and eventually hyperactivity in the brain. ALD is a very rare disease which effects a very small number of people in the United States. The Odone’s have been faced with a very hard challenge and do as much as they can to stop the disease their son is infected with. The never ending positive intentions of the Odone’s lead them to finding a treatment for ALD which has helped effect many lives of people with ALD today. The Odone’s have helped scientists and doctors today give patients with ALD relief and hope. Although ALD is still without a cure, the Odone’s and Lorenzo’s actions have helped the medical community achieve a great necessary success which will play an impact on the lives of anyone with ALD.

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