’50 First Dates’ is a 2004 rom-com starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, wherein Sandler plays Henry, a marine vet who gives up his womanizing ways when he falls completely in love with Barrymore’s Lucy. She seems to like him too, but Henry is baffled when, the very next day, Lucy refuses to recognize him from the day before.
When Henry finds out that Lucy suffers from a neurological condition known as “Goldfield’s Syndrome” which causes her to lose all memories of the previous day, he devises a plan to woo Lucy and win her heart every day like it’s for the first time. It’s a sweet romantic comedy that will stay with you for years after you watch it. But is the story of ’50 First Dates’ rooted in reality? Let’s find out.
Is 50 First Dates Based on a True Story?
No, ’50 First Dates’ is not based on any true story. The plot that revolves around Henry and Lucy’s unconventional romance is purely a work of fiction. The medical condition that plagues Lucy, “Goldfield’s Syndrome,” is also fictional, although the symptoms of the condition are somewhat similar to anterograde amnesia. An individual suffering from anterograde amnesia is unable to create and store new memories after the event that caused amnesia. This leads to a heartbreaking inability to recall the recent past, while most memories from before the amnesia-causing event remain intact.
In the movie, Lucy is able to retain her memory for one full day, and her memory resets every day when she wakes up. But patients who live with anterograde amnesia cannot even remember things from a few minutes (or hours, in some cases) back and display varying degrees of forgetfulness. This is a very mysterious neurological ailment as memory storage is a brain mechanism that’s not yet well understood. Now that we’ve established that Lucy’s exact condition is fictitious, let’s talk about the romance angle of the movie.
’50 First Dates’ tells the story of a man who is willing to persevere and employ incredible patience to be with the one he loves, even if it is a woman who cannot remember him. Henry ultimately makes a home movie about his and Lucy’s life together – their relationship, marriage, and kid – which Lucy watches every morning as soon as she wakes up and then takes a few minutes to come to terms with the weird reality of her life before joining her family and spending the day with them. While this storyline is also not inspired by any real-life incident, there have certainly been cases that are similar.
Michelle Philpots (from Lincolnshire) is afflicted with anterograde amnesia, which gets worse with time. She suffered severe head trauma twice in her life due to road accidents in 1985 and 1990, respectively. Her neurological condition kept steadily declining until she was stuck in 1994. Now, she wakes up every day believing that it’s 1994 and she is 30-years-old when, in fact, she is 57. She remembers her husband, Ian, since they met before 1994, but she doesn’t remember getting married in 1997. Ian has to show her a photo album documenting their wedding day and their life since then to make her believe him.
Also strikingly similar is the case of Jenny Gisby (from Nottingham, England), who suffers from a combination of Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) and epilepsy. But Jenny’s memory loss is complete in the sense that when she wakes up every morning, she does not recall any of her family or friends. Everything in her life up to the present draws a complete blank. Her family and boyfriend help her remember every day through a scrapbook that they maintain.
In another tragic case, Steve Curto (from Michigan) has to convince his wife Camre every day that they are married and have a son together. In 2012, Camre suffered a cataclysmic stroke during childbirth, which cut off the oxygen supply to her brain for about 5 minutes, and that resulted in her memory, both short-term and long-term, being completely wiped.
Initially, Camre could only retain memory from minutes ago, but over the years, it has improved so that she can now remember for hours together. Steve has penned their life’s story in a book for her that she reads every day to recall. So while the movie ’50 First Dates’ is not based on any real-life incident, there are many cases around the world that echo the incredible story about love and patience.
Read More: Where was 50 First Dates Filmed?