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Film / My Left Foot

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My Left Foot is the 1954 autobiography of Irish cerebral palsy sufferer Christy Brown. Paralyzed from birth, Brown is written off as retarded and helpless. But Christy's indomitable mother never gives up on the boy. Using his left foot, the only part of his body not afflicted, Brown learns to write. He grows up to become a well-known author and painter.

The novel was made into an Oscar-winning drama in 1989 directed by Jim Sheridan, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown and Brenda Fricker as his mother.

This work provides examples of:

  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Christy to Eileen when they're out dining after the showing at Peter's gallery. It does not go well, as Eileen's already engaged to Peter:
    "You meant Platonic love, didn't you? I've had Platonic love all me life, and you know what I say? FUCK PLATO! And fuck any love that isn't a hundred percent commitment!"
    • It all goes downhill from there, and is most likely the start of Christy's alcoholism (before, he would just drink socially)...
  • Composite Character: In the film version, the character Dr. Eileen Cole never existed. She was supposed to represent an amalgam of several people who helped Christy. Robert Collis was his mentor in every way - in his education and physical development but, more than that, he encouraged him to paint and write. In fact, he proofread Christy's first book and contacted the publishers for him - the lot. Dr. Patricia Sheehan, who had played a very important role in Christy's development, was very much against the portrayal of Eileen Cole in the film.
  • Extremity Extremist: The protagonist, an almost-total tetraplegic who is carried around in a wheelbarrow, uses his only working appendage - guess which one - to do some damage in a Bar Brawl.
  • Flashback: The way in which the story is told.
  • Genius Cripple: The main character could only move his left foot due to cerebral palsy, but still wrote several poetry books and became very famous in Irish literary circles.
  • Handy Feet: Christy has no choice but to use his left foot as a hand.
  • Ironically Disabled Artist: Christy was afflicted with cerebral palsy since birth. Only his left foot is completely controllable, and he uses it to paint with acrylics on canvas, and to pen books of poetry, which are acclaimed by critics. This makes Christy Brown a Genius Cripple who penned his autobiography, which became the basis for the screenplay.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Christy's father. He comes across as somewhat cold at first, but when Christy writes "MOTHER" on the floor, he takes him for a drink. Perhaps his most heart of gold moment comes when he takes over from Christy's mother to build Christy a room.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Christy had 13 surviving siblings.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Christy hatches a plan to get free coal by using himself to distract the coalmen while his brothers loosened the truck's tailgate, causing the coal to fall out.
  • Oscar Bait: And it worked, giving Day-Lewis his first Best Actor win.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Christy is a poet and a painter, but even he is prone to this trope. Dr. Eileen Cole just rolls with it when she offers to teach him speech therapy.
    Christy: Fuck off.
    Eileen: If you work with me, I'll help you say fuck off more clearly.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Hugh O'Conor plays the 9-year-old Christy Brown, opposite Daniel Day-Lewis playing him as an adult.