Pretty and privileged Deborah (Kathleen Quinlan) is, at the age of 16, a borderline schizophrenic who spends most of her waking hours in a bizarre fantasy realm. After a failed suicide attempt, she lands in a mental institution, where the hostile environment threatens to destabilize her condition even further. It's only through the focused attention of the sympathetic Dr. Fried (Bibi Andersson) that Deborah is gradually able to distinguish between dreams and reality again. The film was directed by Anthony Page.Kathleen Quinlan as Deborah Blake
Bibi Andersson as Dr. Fried
Ben Piazza as Jay Blake
Lorraine Gary as Ester Blake
Martine Bartlett as Secret Wife
Margo Ann Berdeshevsky as Drawing Patient
Darlene Craviotto as Carla
Reni Santoni as Hobbs
Susan Tyrrell as Lee
Signe Hasso as Helene
Norman Alden as McPherson
Sylvia Sidney as Miss Coral
Dennis Quaid as Shark, Baseball Pitcher
Karin de la Penha as Nurse
Robert Viharo as Anterrabae
Carol Worthington as patient with cerebral palsy ("spastic patient")
Mel Gibson as Baseball Player
In the wake of the success of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Roger Corman was able to get funding for a movie version of Rose Garden. Bibi Andersson played Dr. Fried, while Kathleen Quinlan played Deborah. All references to Judaism were removed, including the storyline of the vicious cruelty Deborah suffered from anti-Semitic peers, so that her childhood bout with urethral cancer becomes the sole reason for Deborah's "retreat from reality".
In an interview, Greenberg stated that the references to Judaism were removed because the producers were "terrified." The author added that the characterizations of mental illness in the film "stank on ice."
Deborah's name is changed from Blau (which means "blue" in German, and parallels the author's pseudonym "Green") to Blake. Another major theme of the book, Deborah's artistic talent which flourished in spite of her illness, was reduced to a scene in which she scribbles childishly on a drawing pad. The Kingdom Of Yr is portrayed on-screen, as are some of its gods, but never seen in its original ethereal beauty, only the wasteland that it became much later.
The background music for the Yr sequences is a recording of a Balinese Kecak, the ceremonial chant of the sacred monkeys from the Ramayana. The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, headed by Danny Elfman, appear as extras in the Yr sequences.
In a 2006 interview, Greenberg recalled that she was not consulted on any aspect of the film, and was contacted only by Bibi Andersson. She recalled Andersson telling her that the producers had said Greenberg could not be consulted as she was "hopelessly insane".
The studio is listed as "Imorh" Productions, imorh (variously meaning "sleep", "death" or "insanity") being an Yri word from the novel.
The movie was one of the most expensive ever made from New World Pictures.
The film received mixed reviews.