Looking Back At The ’94 Film About The Battle Creek Sanitarium
If you've yet to see the somewhat controversial film about the very real Battle Creek Sanitarium titled The Road to Wellville...don't worry about adding it to your watchlist.
Released in 1994, The Road to Wellville had a cast of powerhouse actors. We're talking names like:
- Anthony Hopkins
- Matthew Broderick
- John Cusack
- Dana Carvey
- Bridget Fonda
And a lot more. You can see the full cast list here. With so much talent on one screen, you would think that the movie would be a smash hit. The truth is the opposite.
While many dismissed the movie due to its often absurd plot, many in the Battle Creek area loathed the film because of its inaccuracies.
What is The Road to Wellville about?
The movie, based on the book of the same title by T.J. Boyle, tells the story of the inner workings of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. The movie depicts Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (Anthony Hopkins), who ran the sanitarium, as a quirky and questionable health professional with outside-the-box cures to improve his patients' health and happiness.
If you're wondering if the movie was based on a true story the answer is...mostly no. Yes, the Battle Creek Sanitarium existed. That's where the accuracy seems to end.
What The Road to Wellville got wrong:
If you're finicky, these inaccuracies would probably get under your skin:
- In the movie, Kellogg seemed obsessed with vegetarianism, defecation, cornflakes (of course), and the avoidance of, ahem, self-pleasure. In reality, he wasn't as forceful with these beliefs as the movie portrays him to be.
- Dana Carvey plays George, one of Kellogg's 40 adopted children who has turned into a boozed-up drifter. In reality, John Kellogg and his wife, Ella, fostered 42 children but only adopted 8. And George was never a drunken drifter.
- William Lightbody, a completely fictional character played by Matthew Broderick, is paired with a "sexy" nurse and rooms across the hall from a "sexy" female patient. In reality, men and women were completely separated within the walls of the sanitarium.
There are even more inaccuracies having to do with historical timelines and Kelloggs' inventions which you can read on theguardian.com.
How Do the People of Battle Creek feel about it?
While I didn't have time to conduct a poll, I did stumble on an article from the Battle Creek Enquirer written in 2019 for the 25th anniversary of the movie's release. Mainly, it painted the feelings of locals as "disappointed".
However, finding a physical copy of The Road to Wellville in Battle Creek will be difficult. Their article said that neither video stores nor the local library carried copies of the movie. And, there were no planned screenings in the area for the 25th anniversary. Which, is something one might expect when there's a movie based in that town.
Aside from the historical inaccuracies, the movie itself received a 39% from Rotten Tomatoes. Check out a brief trailer below. Warning: this movie is not for children or sensitive audiences:
If you're still interested in watching The Road to Wellville, you can find it on Youtube or for rental/purchase on Amazon Prime.
As well, if you'd like to learn more about the actual Battle Creek Sanitarium, John H. Kellogg, and his inventions and practices, you can read more at history.com and asylumprojects.org.
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