Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

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Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
DVD cover
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
  • February 7, 2009 (2009-02-07)
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 Ben Carson released by Zondervan.


The movie begins in 1987, where Dr. Ben Carson (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) travels to Germany to help a couple named Peter and Augusta Rausch, who have twins conjoined at the head. Dr. Carson thinks he might be able to successfully disjoin the twins, but he says doing so may kill them. Despite this risk, Ben agrees to operate, but spends four months formulating a plan to increase chances of a successful surgery. While reading through his book collection, the movie flashes back to 1961, where 11-year-old Ben Carson (Jaishon Fisher) begins 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 away, checked into a mental institution. Ben and Curtis avoid homework in favor of television shows, so their mother restricts their TV viewing schedule, allowing only one TV program per day. The brothers become hooked to a television quiz show, and write two library book reports every week, as their mother had told them. Later, Ben and Curtis are transferred to another 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 then begins to show a temper. At school, Ben's friend continually messes with his radio, which in turn leads Ben to stab his friend. As he runs home in worry, we see that his friend was not scathed, and that the blade had broken off after hitting a belt buckle. Having almost killed someone because of his temper, he realizes that he can't do anything about it himself. Ben runs into his room and cries out to God, praying for Him to take away his temper. From that point on, Ben remains anger-free. He becomes the top student in his eighth grade class, third in his high school class, and with hard work and strong determination, he receives a scholarship to college, passes the MCAT and advances to medical school. Ben meets his girlfriend Candy, whom he falls in love with at school and eventually marries. One day, when Ben struggles with a test study, Candy tutors him and Ben eventually passes the test with an A.

Later, in 1976, Carson faces adversity from doctors and fellow residents while working at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. It is here where he successfully operates on a dying young man without proper supervision, risking his medical career and his boss was very impressed. Then, in 1985, Dr. Carson conducts a rare procedure called a hemispherectomy on a girl who convulses 100 times every day. In the procedure, he removes half the brain responsible for the seizures. Dr. Carson and his wife Candy prepare for twins, but Candy suffers a miscarriage when she told Carson that she need to go to hospital, Carson then calls to a hospital, while the Doctor told Carson that Candy will be fine but said they lost the baby Carson shed tearfully about it. Dr. Carson's mother later moves in with the family. His mother encourages him that he can save the two twins.

The movie then returns to where it left off: the year 1987, where Dr. Ben Carson has 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 his plan. Then, he gets an inspiration and green-lights the operation. After about 22 hours into the procedure, Dr. Carson and his team of doctors manage to separate the baby twins, saving two young lives. He tells Peter and Augusta that the surgery was a success and both cried and thank Carson for saving their twin children and went to see them. They ask Carson about the surgery, and at the end of the film will show dialogue about Carson later after he saves the two twins.


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 Young 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[edit]

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[edit]