Gray's Anatomy (film)

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This article is about the film. For other uses, see Gray's Anatomy (disambiguation).
Gray's Anatomy
Promotional poster
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Produced by John Hardy
Written by Spalding Gray
Renee Shafransky
Starring Spalding Gray
Music by Cliff Martinez
Cinematography Elliot Davis
Edited by Susan Littenberg
Release dates
Running time
80 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $350,000

Gray's Anatomy is an 80-minute film directed by Steven Soderbergh in 1996 involving a dramatized monologue by actor/writer Spalding Gray. The title is taken from the classic human anatomy textbook, Gray's Anatomy, originally written by Henry Gray in 1858.

The monologist film is about Spalding Gray, the main character, who is diagnosed with a rare ocular condition called "Macular pucker". After hearing all of his options, such as Christian Science, Native American sweat lodges, and the "Elvis Presley of psychic surgeons" to name a few, and the dangers of what surgery could bring, he decides to go through the other forms of medicine provided. This in turn takes him on a journey around the world and steers him away from surgery more so because of religious reasons, often in a dramatic and humorous fashion.[1]

This was the fourth and last of Gray's theatrically released monologue films, following Swimming to Cambodia, Monster in a Box, and Terrors of Pleasure.

The film is available on DVD and MiniDisc. A remastered version was released by The Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray in June 2012.[2]


Spalding Gray was raised in Rhode Island and attended school in Massachusetts. Gray's style as an actor was influenced by Allen Ginsberg, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, and the American Autobiographical movement. He mostly worked in experimental theater. In 1977, he co-founded the Wooster Theater Group in New York City. Two years later he performed his first monologue: Sex and Death at the Age of 14. In the '80s Gray traveled to Thailand where he won two Independent Spirit Awards for the film Swimming to Cambodia. He appeared in several independent films in the '90s before Gray's Anatomy was published.[3]


Steven Soderbergh was born on January 14, 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia. Soderbergh moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana at a young age. He took a film animation course at the age of 15 and began making short films; one was Janitor. When he graduated high school, he moved to Hollywood and became a freelance editor for a short period. Soderbergh soon moved home and continued to make short films and write films. In 1986, he received his first major break when rock group Yes employed him to shoot a full-length concert film for them; the video earned a Grammy nomination. In 1987, Soderbergh filmed Winston which expanded into Sex, Lies, and Videotape in 1989. This film earned him the Cannes Film Festival's Palme d'Or Award, the Independent Spirit Award for Best Director, and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Soderbergh followed this with the less commercially successful films Kafka (1991), King of the Hill (1993), Underneath (1995) and Gray's Anatomy. All but King of the Hill received mixed critical reception. In 1998, Soderbergh made Out of Sight, his most successful since Sex, Lies, and Videotape. In 2000, Soderbergh directed Erin Brockovich and Traffic, his most successful films to date. These films were both nominated for Best Picture Oscars at the 2001 Academy Awards and gave him the first twin director Oscar nomination in almost 60 years. He won the Oscar for Best Director for Traffic at the 2001 Oscars.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

The San Francisco Chronicle described Gray's Anatomy as an unremarkable story. "There's something intrinsically insincere about the whole quest. This creeping sense that Gray isn't really interested in anything he's talking about - that he, alone, is the subject of his own obsession gives Gray's Anatomy a distasteful edge."[5]

The Digital Fix described Gray's Anatomy as "very witty and a pleasure to listen to. As he passes fifty, Gray starts to worry about his own death before he finds the sight in his left eye is becoming distorted. Learning that he has a macular pucker, Gray seeks out alternative therapies, including mass nude encounters in a sweatbox, a raw-vegetable diet and a trip to the Philippines to meet a psychic surgeon."[6]

The Chicago Tribune described Gray's Anatomy as "demonstrating that fully stimulating the sense isn't the same as fully engaging them. The film begins as ordinary as could be and then continues with scenery changes, lighting effects, and moody music."[7]


  1. ^ Dan. "Public Transportation Snob: Soderbergh Marathon: Gray's Anatomy (1996)". Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Gray's Anatomy (1997) – The Criterion Collection". Retrieved 2012-3-17.
  3. ^ "Spalding Gray". MUBI. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Steven Soderbergh". IMDb. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "FILM REVIEW -- Gray's Eye Focused Right on Himself / Monologuist a bore discussing illness". SFGate. 11 April 1997. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Gray's Anatomy". Film @ The Digital Fix. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Film Version Of Gray's Anatomy Clouded By Sensory Overload". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 

External links[edit]