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Mozart and the Whale

Promotional movie poster for the film
Directed by Petter Næss
Produced by Danny Dimbort
Manfred D. Heid
Gerd Koechlin
Josef Lautenschlager
Avi Lerner
Trevor Short
Andreas Thiesmeyer
Frank DeMartini
Written by Ronald Bass
Starring Josh Hartnett
Radha Mitchell
Erica Leerhsen
Music by Deborah Lurie
Cinematography Svein Krøvel
Editing by Lisa Zeno Churgin
Miklos Wright
Distributed by Millennium Films
Release date(s) Brazil September 10, 2005 (DVD premiere)
United States April 14, 2006 (limited)
Japan February 24, 2007
Running time 92 min.
Country U.S.A.
Language English
Budget $12,000,000 (estimate)

Mozart and the Whale is a 2005 feature-length motion picture starring Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell, and directed by Petter Næss.



The film tells the story of two people with Asperger syndrome (a form of autism). Donald (Josh Hartnett) runs a small self-help group for people on the autistic spectrum who are more affected by their autism than he is. Isabelle (Radha Mitchell) is referred to the group by her therapist. Mozart and the Whale is a fictional account, using characters loosely based on the real-life relationship of Jerry Newport and Mary Meinel (now Mary Newport).



The screenplay was written by Ron Bass, who also wrote Rain Man, a movie about an individual with autism. Bass is said to have been inspired by a 1995 article in the Los Angeles Times.

The film was previously a DreamWorks vehicle and was to have been directed by Steven Spielberg with Robin Williams and Tea Leoni as stars. But other work commitments meant that Spielberg could not film it in the available time slots. North By Northwest [1] picked up the film finishing it for its release in 2005.

Parts of this film were shot on the campus of Gonzaga University, and Cat Tales, a large-cat preserve in Spokane, Washington.[2]


The film struggled to find a theatrical distributor in the USA. The major reason for this was a lack of public support by prominent cast members who did not like the final version. The studio tried to distribute it in the USA in April 2004 but it did not go farther than a month in Spokane, Washington, where the film was made. The film is available on DVD in a number of countries and became available in the USA in that form on December 12, 2006.


This film has been lauded by many in the autism community for its realistic portrayal of life on the autism spectrum.[3] It has also been criticized for perpetuating the common and incorrect media stereotype that people on the autism spectrum typically have savant skills.[4] Due to its positive portrayal of Asperger syndrome and other autism spectrum conditions, this movie has been frequently screened at autism conferences and support group meetings for those on the spectrum.


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  3. ^ GroovyDruid (2006-04-18). "MOZART AND THE WHALE movie review". Retrieved 2008-09-05.  
  4. ^ Draaisma D (2009). "Stereotypes of autism". Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 364 (1522): 1475–80. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0324. PMID 19528033.  

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