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The Prince of Tides is a 1991 film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Pat Conroy. It tells the story of the narrator's struggle to overcome the psychological damage inflicted by his dysfunctional childhood in South Carolina. The film was created by producer/director Barbra Streisand from a screenplay by Conroy and Becky Johnston.


The Prince of Tides tells the story of Tom Wingo, a teacher and football coach who is reluctant to help his twin sister's psychiatrist unlock their dysfunctional family's secrets. When the sister, famous New York poet Savannah Wingo, attempts suicide again, Tom is torn from his safe and dull world and travels to New York to help her. Savannah, though, is in such a dissociated state that she is unable to help her psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein, understand the extent of her problems. Susan asks Tom to act as his twin's memory and help her uncover the subconscious painful events that contributed to her emotional collapse and loss of identity. Tom and Susan fall in love as they work together to help Savannah, and Tom is healed from his emotional numbness as he realizes it results from the severe traumas that he endured with his mother and siblings.


While the film was a box office hit and raised Streisand's reputation as a director, its numerous changes from the original novel upset some Conroy purists. Streisand jettisoned most of the novel's flashback scenes. The character she plays in the film, a psychiatrist, appears only in the present, not in any of these flashbacks. They describe Tom Wingo's (Nick Nolte) relationship with his siblings in great detail. In the novel, these flashbacks form the main plot and take up more of the novel than the romance between Streisand's character, Dr. Lowenstein, and Tom Wingo. The jettisoning of the flashbacks makes the relationship between Wingo and Lowenstein the central story in the film, whereas in the novel, it is not.

Another character in the novel - the second Wingo brother, Luke, who appears only in flashbacks - is vitally important to the novel, and his death is a major plot point. Luke barely appears at all in the film, and his death is only alluded to.

Primary cast




In Popular Media

In 2006, NBC's The Office released a webisode entitled, "The Accountants" (episode 104 1:39). In the webisode, Oscar tells Kevin and Angela that his mom picks the worst time to visit because he already had plans to watch The Prince of Tides with friends. When asked why, Oscar says, "Well, we don't like it, we make fun of it. It's like our Rocky Horror picture thing we do."

In the now legendary 1992 Saturday Night Live skit "Coffee Talk", guests Roseanne and Madonna, playing a stereotypical Jewish mother and daughter, go through a cathartic conversation, resulting in Streisand-obsessed hostess Linda Richman gushing "This is so Prince of Tides!" Moments later, Streisand herself surprises them with an unexpected appearance.


External links


Other Media

Unabridged audiobooks have been recorded of the novel:
  • Narrated by Wolfram Kandinsky, published by Books on Tape (1986). Audio cassettes. ISBN 5557084894. ISBN 978-5557084895.
  • Narrated by Frank Muller, published by Recorded Books Inc. (1991). Compact disc. ISBN 1419325949.

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