Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

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Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
DVD cover
Written by John Pielmeier
Directed by Thomas Carter
Starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Kimberly Elise
Aunjanue Ellis
Theme music composer Martin Davich
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Dan Angel
Thomas Carter
Editor(s) Peter E. Berger
Cinematography John B. Aronson
Running time 86 minutes
Production company(s) The Hatchery
Sony Pictures Television
Original channel TNT
Sony Pictures Television
Original release
  • February 7, 2009 (2009-02-07)

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story is a 2009 television drama film directed by Thomas Carter, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Kimberly Elise. It is a movie based on the life story of neurosurgeon Ben Carson from 1961 to 1987. A Johnson & 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.


In 1987, Dr. Ben Carson (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) travels to Germany to meet a couple, Peter and Augusta Rausch, who have twins conjoined at the back of their heads. Dr. Carson believes he might be able to successfully separate them, but realizes that he also risks losing one or both of them. After explaining the risk, and despite that fact, Ben agrees to operate.

During the four months he spends researching and formulating a plan to increase his chances of a successful surgery, the movie flashes back to 1961, when the 11-year-old Ben Carson (Jaishon Fisher) is failing school. His single mother, who had but a second grade education, is distressed about her sons' academic failures and decides to do something about it. First she requires Ben and his older brother, Curtis, to learn the multiplication tables while she was away and, unbeknownst to them, checks into a mental institution to battle depression. When she returns, she realizes that her sons are watching too much TV and decides to restrict them to 2 shows a week and require them to read two books a week and write book reports. She hides from them the fact that she does not know how to read the reports.

Ben and Curtis soon begin to love reading and learn many things from the world of books, so that within one year Ben goes from the bottom of his class to the top. But Ben has an uncontrollable temper which climaxed in high school when he nearly killed his best friend. Fortunately for his friend and for Ben, his knife hits his friend's belt buckle and breaks. Shocked, Ben runs home and cries out to God to take away his temper. This experience changes his life. He never loses his temper again.

After hard work and strong determination, Ben receives a scholarship to Yale, where he meets his wife, Candy, who supports him in his struggles to get through Yale. After studying neurosurgery, he is accepted as a resident at Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he is faced with a dilemma that could end his career; operate on a dying man without permission or supervision, or let him die. He takes the risk and saves the man's life.

In 1985, after Dr. Carson's mother joins the family, Candy is rushed to the hospital where she miscarries their twins. Dr. Carson stays with her all night until the next morning when he does a rare procedure, a hemispherectomy, in which he removes half the brain of a 4-year-old who had been convulsing 100 times each day.

The movie then returns to where it began: the year 1987, when Dr. Carson is preparing for a risky surgery to separate the twins conjoined at the head. With four months nearing an end, Ben still cannot figure out one final component of his plan. His mother encourages him that he can save the twins. Then he gets an inspiration and confidently prepares for 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 the emotional and grateful Peter and Augusta that the surgery was a success. The film ends with him surrounded by cameras and microphones in a press conference.


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 Car 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 7.8/10 rating on IMDB. 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]