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"Changeling" JMSnews Reviews - *SPOILERS*

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  • #46
    Changeling: Foucault's 'Discipline and Punish' redux

    This is an interesting take on Changeling from Peter Dray an eduator from Lancaster, United Kingdom. He was unaware that JMS had written and produced Babylon 5, and did not know about the series.

    Republished with permission.

    Friday, 19 December 2008
    Changeling: Foucault's 'Discipline and Punish' redux
    Tonight Linda and I went to see Clint Eastwood's latest film, Changeling. We had both been really moved by Million Dollar Baby and so looked forward to viewing it with anticipation.

    Let's make one thing clear: it isn't pretty viewing. The film opens reminding the viewer that it is based on true life, and this is what makes the movie powerfully arresting. In fact, the auditorium was quieter at the end of the film than any other I'd been to since The Passion of the Christ. Whilst there wasn't much gore, the subject matter was such that it leaves you squeaming at many points.

    The trailer for Changeling only gave the bare bones of the plot: a boy is abducted, a police search ensues, a boy is found, but the boy's mother Christine Collins (played by the very good Angelina Jolie) insists that the boy returned to her is not her son.

    However, perhaps the main issue that the film raises is the matter of madness. After confronting the city authorities, Mrs Collins is branded an unfit mother, branded delusional and sent to a secure psychiatric hospital. Later in the film, another view of madness is presented in one of the other major characters. The movie considers what 'madness' is, who has the right to call someone else 'mad' or delusional, and whether 'madness' ever mitigates one's societal responsibility. And so whilst there are other strong themes (human evil, death, the family, justice and women's rights), it's issues of 'madness' and the role of the institution that is explored most deeply. In this respect, it is very similar to the 'archaeology of knowledge' of the penal system and the hospital presented by the French postmodernist Michel Foucault in his book Discipline and Punish. The movie questions whether two key figures - Mrs Collins and Northcott - might be treated in the same way today (and if not, why not?).

    It's true that societal factors are highly influential in governing behaviour. I believe that evangelical Christians (like me) have traditionally underplayed these societal forces. However, part of what Foucualt's philosophy has done has placed us in a society where nobody is ever 'guilty'. We can always blame our mental health, our disposition, our upbringing or our parents. At the end of Changeling, it's worth considering this question: despite all of the guilt and the violence, who is guilty? (The answer might surprise you).

    For a second opinion, here's what Nick Pollard of the excellent Damaris organisation made of it:
    Changeling and attitudes towards women and
    Changeling and transformational truth

    Comment


    • #47
      Saw the movie today - to make a long story short I thought is was pretty good. Perhaps the ending was too much hollywood - this my boy was a hero... don't know if these had been the facts - if yes then everything is ok with it... otherwise it would have been a little bit too corny for my taste.

      Ah - and I loved the way JMS used his Sheridan line "never start but always end a fight" in the move :-)

      Perhaps not THE best film ever but pretty good

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by Whyruss View Post
        Saw the movie today - to make a long story short I thought is was pretty good. Perhaps the ending was too much hollywood - this my boy was a hero... don't know if these had been the facts - if yes then everything is ok with it... otherwise it would have been a little bit too corny for my taste.
        As far as I know, it's factual. There were questions over on IMDb wondering why nobody just asked Sanford if Walter had been recaptured but JMS replied that he'd returned to Canada by then and wasn't willing to discuss that portion of his life any more and there was no legal means to make him.

        Glad you liked it.

        Jan
        "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

        Comment


        • #49
          Finally saw it today. Excellent writing, clean and powerful filmmaking. A very good movie.
          Jonas Kyratzes | Lands of Dream

          Comment


          • #50
            Finally watched the DVD (didn't see it in the theaters as it just isn't my sort of film) and thought it was very good. I think the marketers really blew it by not stressing enough that this was a true story, not just another "based on" or "suggested by" Hollywood version of reality. With that knowledge, Changeling is easily a 4-star movie. For folks who saw it expecting a "thriller" I can see how it might not have rated nearly as high a mark.

            After seeing it, I don't know whether to be more hopeful about how far we seem to have come in eighty years or more ashamed at how bad things were not so long ago . . .

            Comment


            • #51
              "Changeling" JMSnews Reviews SPOILERS

              Fair warning to those who rent it from Blockbuster:

              Its edited.

              They cut out several scenes, for those who care, here are some I remember:

              Obvious Spoilers









              I know Sarah and her husband had several lines of dialogue at the beginning of the movie before the car accident.

              They cut out a random scene of some lady at the hospital chatting with Sarah.

              The shot of the woman shooting the cop is way more graphic and features a shot of the cop getting half of his face blown off.

              The ending is way more fucked up and features a shot of the woman cutting open Sarahs belly and her hand being inside her belly, pushing the baby out herself.




              Fuck Blockbuster, although the movie is still awesome, the ending really lacks the creepy factor it originally had.
              page

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              • #52
                ^^ Whatever you're talking about, it's not J. Michael Straczynski's "Changeling".

                Jan
                "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                Comment


                • #53
                  I finally got up the nerve to watch Changeling last night.

                  It's a case I already knew a lot about and I was rather apprehensive about watching a drama based on something so utterly hideous.

                  It's a well made film which doesn't draw indecent sensation from the crimes (what is seen is horrific but only in a way necessary to the telling of a horrific story).

                  Miss Jolie gives a good performance but I can't help but think she was miscast in this film.

                  At no point do I believe that she is an ordinary working mother, she looks like a film star and this undermines the narrative.

                  Despite reports about the historic accuracy of the script it does take huge liberties with what actually happened.

                  Sometimes some deviation from the truth is necessary to deliver a film which fits into the alloted length and budget but the real story is so compelling on so many levels that some of the alterations undermine what could have been a much more interesting picture that could have still remained outside the realms of sensationalism.

                  The removal of Sarah Louise Northcott is one example of an opportunity missed.

                  In a film about a woman obsessed with finding and protecting her innocent son removing Northcott's possibly complicit, certainly protective mother made no sense at all.

                  Changing the events surrounding Walter's disappearance also was unnecessary and made the story too simplistic.

                  It removed some depth from the characters and made it a plain case of a wronged woman against and evil police force with no possibility of seeing the various points of view on both sides.

                  Another example of the simplistic telling of the story being that Jones and Davies were both later reinstated and Mrs Collins never got a penny of the $10,800 the court decided Jones should pay to compensate for her mistreatment and yet the film gives the impression that their careers were finished by what happened.

                  So on the whole a good enough film with some lovely period detail and plain no-nonsense direction from Mr Eastwood, not what I was hoping for but at least not what I was dreading either.
                  I have the wings for Bingo.

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    EDIT: that was the spoiler free thread

                    Originally posted by Shr'eshhhhhh View Post
                    Changing the events surrounding Walter's disappearance also was unnecessary and made the story too simplistic.
                    What exactly are you referring to? You declare this to be so without actually saying what was changed.

                    Originally posted by Shr'eshhhhhh View Post
                    It removed some depth from the characters and made it a plain case of a wronged woman against and evil police force with no possibility of seeing the various points of view on both sides.
                    The LAPD was corrupt at the time, no doubt about it. But go ahead and show me how you think that a department that tried to convince a woman that a different child was hers had a side that could be considered as being equally altruistic; I'm interested.
                    Last edited by JoeD80; 05-04-2010, 03:27 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      I've whisked these latest posts to the 'JMSnews reviews' thread. Thanks for being careful, though, JoeD80.

                      Originally posted by JoeD80
                      What exactly are you referring to? You declare this to be so without actually saying what was changed.
                      I've read in several places that Christine did give Walter money to go to the movie theater and that he was possibly snatched there or en route. To me, that's a difference that makes no difference and that would have added several minutes of screen time to no good effect while it took longer for Christine to realize that he was missing.

                      Originally posted by Shr'eshhhhhh
                      The removal of Sarah Louise Northcott is one example of an opportunity missed.

                      In a film about a woman obsessed with finding and protecting her innocent son removing Northcott's possibly complicit, certainly protective mother made no sense at all.
                      Except that she really had no place in it since the movie wasn't about Gordon or the murders (plus the fact that she was released due to there being no evidence other than her confession). It was about Christine and what was done to her when all she wanted was to find her son.

                      The onscreen items superimposed at the end of the film were considerably shorter than in the script. There, it was noted that Jones never paid the civil award, that Davis regained his office but was forced to resign a second time.

                      Even if Jones & Davis had any legitimate point of view to be shown, nothing would mitigate what they caused to be done to Christine and other women (in addition to their better known corruptions). Plus, their point of view would probably not be overly evident from the source material JMS was using.

                      Jan
                      "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Jan View Post
                        I've whisked these latest posts to the 'JMSnews reviews' thread. Thanks for being careful, though, JoeD80.

                        Originally Posted by JoeD80
                        What exactly are you referring to? You declare this to be so without actually saying what was changed.
                        I've read in several places that Christine did give Walter money to go to the movie theater and that he was possibly snatched there or en route. To me, that's a difference that makes no difference and that would have added several minutes of screen time to no good effect while it took longer for Christine to realize that he was missing.

                        Originally Posted by Shr'eshhhhhh
                        The removal of Sarah Louise Northcott is one example of an opportunity missed.

                        In a film about a woman obsessed with finding and protecting her innocent son removing Northcott's possibly complicit, certainly protective mother made no sense at all.
                        Except that she really had no place in it since the movie wasn't about Gordon or the murders (plus the fact that she was released due to there being no evidence other than her confession). It was about Christine and what was done to her when all she wanted was to find her son.

                        The onscreen items superimposed at the end of the film were considerably shorter than in the script. There, it was noted that Jones never paid the civil award, that Davis regained his office but was forced to resign a second time.

                        Even if Jones & Davis had any legitimate point of view to be shown, nothing would mitigate what they caused to be done to Christine and other women (in addition to their better known corruptions). Plus, their point of view would probably not be overly evident from the source material JMS was using.

                        Jan
                        This is JMS's take on the matter:

                        Re: Glaring Omission of the 'True Story'- Sarah Louise Northcott
                        by straczynski 57 minutes ago (Tue Sep 8 2009 19:56:24)
                        Note: The original post no longer exists on the IMDb.

                        To answer both questions (this and the subsequent one) at once...as I'd mentioned in another thread, the mother's confession really went nowhere. It was clear she was just trying to save Gordon, and she was later released because there was no proof that she actually did anything. Yeah, it would've spun the heads around of the audience, but we were already at well over two hours and there just wasn't room to include everything, especially something that rabbit trailed and eventually led nowhere. If we'd included it, we'd have to have either another piece of film showing her being released, or include it in the tiny crawl at the end, and there were already too many "endings" to justify that.

                        Had this been a miniseries, sure, it would've been there because there would've been time. But in a movie, you have to keep only what's absolutely relevant. Also, we were telling this from Christine's POV. I didn't want to center the film around Northcott. So yeah, there was a lot on that side left out. But none of what was omitted changed anything that's shown in the film: that he did these crimes, was tracked down, arrested, convicted, and executed in the manner shown.

                        (Signifantly, in Sanford Clark's testimony, he says that Louisa only came to the ranch sporadically, both when they were building it and afterward, and they went to elaborate steps to make everything look normal, which further reinforces the sense that she wasn't directly involved.)

                        As to the found boy...the police and press at the time identified this as a boy who had been at the ranch. There weren't a great deal of details given, because they were trying to respect the privacy of the family, but that much was established.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Changeling first appeared on the IMDb Top 250 on 3 February 2009. It has been on the list continuously since 10 February 2009. Its best ranking of 216 occured between 6-19 May 2009. On 9 September it was ranked 250. It finally fell out of the IMDb Top 250 on 10 September 2010, but returned on 11 September 2010 with a rank of 250.

                          Changeling's and other films IMDb Top 250 Rank over time

                          Last edited by Dan Dassow; 09-11-2010, 12:35 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Thanks, Dan, that's cool. Is the 'Top' determined by votes, do you know?

                            Jan
                            "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Jan View Post
                              Thanks, Dan, that's cool. Is the 'Top' determined by votes, do you know?

                              Jan
                              Jan,

                              According to IMDb Top 250, "only votes from regular voters are considered." The staff of the IMDb has intentionally kept the definition of what they consider a regular contributor vague. This is done to reduce the effect of people stuffing the ballot and distorting the results. Based upon my observations, the IMDb staff excludes votes from unregistered and recently registered people, and people who have only voted for a few films, do not vote on a regular basis or have unusual voting patterns such as high percentage of 1s or 10s.

                              This is the formula for calculating the Top Rated 250 Titles:

                              weighted rating (WR) = (v ¸ (v+m)) Î R + (m ¸ (v+m)) Î C where:

                              R = average for the movie (mean) = (Rating)
                              v = number of votes for the movie = (votes)
                              m = minimum votes required to be listed in the Top 250 (currently 3000)
                              C = the mean vote across the whole report (currently 6.9)

                              for the Top 250, only votes from regular voters are considered.

                              Here is an example using the current ratings as of 11 September 2010 for Changeling. It is not entirely correct, since it includes all votes, not just the votes from regular users.

                              PHP Code:
                              Votes  Percentage  Rating  Wt Vote
                              11
                              ,824 17.9%       10      118,240
                              15
                              ,881 24.1%        9      142,929
                              21
                              ,120 32.0%        8      168,960
                              10
                              ,378 15.7%        7       72,646
                               3
                              ,252  4.9%        6       19,512
                               1
                              ,197  1.8%        5        5,985
                                 551  0.8
                              %        4        2,204
                                 330  0.5
                              %        3          990
                                 280  0.4
                              %        2          560
                               1
                              ,201  1.8%        1        1,201

                              Sum                                 Rating
                              66
                              ,014                     533,227  8.0775

                              Plugging this into the formula
                              weighted rating 
                              (WR) = (v ¸ (v+m)) Î R + (m ¸ (v+m)) Î C
                              WR 
                              = (66,014 ¸ (66,014+3000)) Î 8.0775 + (3000 ¸ (66,014+3000)) Î 6.9
                              WR 
                              8.0399 
                              Last edited by Dan Dassow; 09-12-2010, 01:06 PM.

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                FYI Changeling is currently at #229 in terms of of the MovieMeter: http://www.imdb.com/help/show_leaf?prowhatisstarmeter

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