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Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Directed by Thomas Carter
Produced by Dan Angel
Thomas Carter
Written by John Pielmeier
Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Kimberly Elise
Aunjanue Ellis
Music by Martin Davich
Cinematography John B. Aronson
Editing by Peter E. Berger
Production company The Hatchery
Sony Pictures Television
Country United States
Language English
Original channel TNT
Sony Pictures Television
Release date
Running time 86 minutes

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story is a 2009 movie directed by Thomas Carter, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Kimberly Elise. It is a movie based on the life story of world-renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson from 1961 to 1987. A Johnson and Johnson Spotlight Presentation, the movie premiered on TNT on Saturday, February 7, 2009. Its title was reused from a 1992 direct-to-video documentary about Benjamin Carson released by Zondervan.


The movie begins in 1987, where Dr. Ben Carson (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) goes to Germany to help a couple named Peter and Augusta Rausch, who have twins conjoined at the head. Ben knows that there is a chance to a successfully separate the conjoined twins, but there is also a risk. In previous attempts to separate conjoined twins at the head, one sibling always dies. Despite the risk of death, Ben agrees to operate, but he will wait four months so he can carefully formulate a plan to save the twins. While looking into some of his books, the movie flashes back to the year 1961, where 11-year-old Ben Carson (Jaishon Fisher) starts out life as an African American child from a one-parent home with failing grades at school. His mother, who dropped out in the third grade, starts making decisions for him and his brother Curtis. When her two sons need to learn multiplication tables, she has them swear to learn them while she is gone, checked into a mental institution. When she sees that TV is hindering her two sons' success, she creates a strict TV schedule for them. The brothers prefer to only watch one quiz show later on. She also commands them to read two books per week from the library and give her book reports on them. Later, she transfers them to a better school.

Meanwhile as time passes, Ben learns how to multiply and spell. He starts to explore the world of books, and he grows in it. He begins to show a temper; Ben nearly kills a friend who tells him to go to hell. Ben's failed stabbing involved his new knife another student gave him earlier. His knife broke when it hit his friend's belt buckle. Having almost killed someone because of his temper, he realizes that he can't do anything about it by himself. Ben runs into his room and cries out to God, praying for him to take away his temper. Ben's temper never bothers him again. He becomes the top student in his eighth grade class, third in his high school class, and with hard work and strong determination, he gets a scholarship to college, passes the MCAT and advances to medical school. Ben meets his girlfriend Candy, whom he falls in love with in school. One day, when he struggles with a test study, Candy assists, and Ben eventually passes the test with an A.

In the year 1976, Carson faced adversity from fellow doctors and students while working at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. It is here, where he successfully operated as a resident without proper supervision, risking his medical career to save a young man's life. Then in the year of 1985, he saved the life of a girl who had 100 seizures per day, by only removing the responsible half of her brain that caused the seizures in a rare procedure called a hemispherectomy. After two children, Candy, now his wife, becomes pregnant with twins, but has an unfortunate and bloody miscarriage. Ben's mother later moves in with the family.

Then, the movie returns to where it left off: the year of 1987, where Dr. Ben Carson agreed to conduct a risky surgery on twins conjoined at the head. With four months nearing an end, Ben still cannot figure out one final component of the plan. But then he gets an inspiration and green-lights the operation. After about 22 hours, the operation proves a success when he and his team of doctors manage to successfully separate the baby twins to save two young lives.


Cast Role Notes
Cuba Gooding, Jr. Benjamin "Bennie" Carson Lead role
Kimberly Elise Sonya Carson Benjamin's Mother
Aunjanue Ellis Candy Carson Bennie's girlfriend/wife
Gus Hoffman Teen Bennie Teenage Ben Carson
Jaishon Fisher Bennie Young Ben Carson
Harron Atkins, Jr. Teen Carl One of Teen Bennie's bullies

The film employs scenes from old television series, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, The Donna Reed Show, Father Knows Best, and The General Electric College Bowl, when hosted by Allen Ludden.

Critical reception

The movie has received generally positive reviews from critics, and holds a 63/100 rating on, based on 9 reviews. The Orlando Sentinel says, "It's the perfect movie for a country challenged by its new president to do better." The Hollywood Reporter writes, "The film is so good that a little immodesty is not only acceptable but understandable." On the other side, The Washington Post states, "It is a treacly, plodding affair stunted by awkward transitions and a syrupy soundtrack."

External links

  • Turner Broadcasting System, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story - About the Movie.
  • Internet Movie Database
  • Dr. Benjamin Carson's Speech at the National Prayer Breakfast from February 7, 2013
  • Carson Scholars Fund - Discovering Promise ... Rewarding Excellence!
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