Temple Grandin is known for her work, writing and lectures.
The professor of animal husbandry at Colorado State University, a noted animal-rights advocate and author of many books, is a living example of the personal, professional and academic achievement that's possible for people with autism.
The celebrated autistic woman has been honored for her compassionate designs for animal slaughterhouses, adopted by many companies since she began her work decades ago, and for her efforts to draw attention to ethical treatment of animals.
We might be familiar with her special rapport with animals and heightened sensitivities due to autism. We might have read her books, but we haven't been afforded an illustrated view inside her mind until now.
HBO offers a biography, Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes, that illustrates the workings of a brilliant mind that sees the world through the prism of autism. Translating language into pictures, plotting ideas in geographic shapes and angles, using sparse but effective computer graphics, the film offers Grandin's point of view.
"I'm not like other people. I think in pictures. And I connect them," Grandin declares at the start of the film.
It helps that Danes is phenomenal, going so deep inside the character as to be unrecognizable to fans of her performances in Romeo + Juliet, Me and Orson Welles and My So-Called Life.
The artful cinematic tricks of director Mick Jackson can take us only so far. It's up to Danes to connect and make the character real. Her interpretation, using a rather gruff, deep voice and anti-social mannerisms, plus Jackson's special effects, unveil the workings of Grandin's mind.
Grandin changed the way the world perceived autism. Now Danes changes the way we perceive Grandin. The film, premiering Saturday, is much less a story about autism than a compelling biography of the coming of age of a woman with an unusual sense of the world.