(This article does not contain spoilers. However, if you are quite persnickety about the surprise factor of films, the writer would recommend you avoid the reading of this article.)
For quite a few years now, I have been absorbed in a continuous, and quite complex, search for my favorite films. It should be noted, however, that “my favorite films” is not synonymous with “the greatest films of all time.” Strictly speaking.
Today, however, I will be presenting to you a particular favorite of mine – and as a side dish, I will also be making the argument of why this film should, in fact, be considered one of the aforementioned greatest films of all time.
This film is called Changeling.
Changeling (2008) is a film directed, produced, and scored by none other than the legendary Clint Eastwood. Now, before you roll your eyes at his status as the only cool Republican in the history of mankind, allow me to inform you that the primary reason as to why Clint Eastwood registered as a Republican back in the day was due to his massive political boners for Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. If you are still rolling your eyes, do not fret. I will change your mind.
[bctt tweet=”I will change your mind” username=”wearethetempest”]
First and foremost, a valid enough reason to watch Changeling is the casting of the love of my life, Angelina Jolie, as the central character in the film. However, her appearance in the film is not significant solely due to her prestigious title. Primarily, it is cause for celebration that such a successful film has a female protagonist who is neither sexualized nor dehumanized.
In this case, both Eastwood and Jolie hit a home run for women everywhere. The latter’s performance was both realistic and moving, and a major contributing factor, I feel, is this: Angelina Jolie is, and was at the time, a mother. She originally rejected the role due to the fact that it hit too close to home – she even stated that as a mother, “it was horrible.” And as much as this does indeed sound difficult, I feel that her position as a mother of multiple young children authenticated her performance even further.
Now, quite like its lead actress, Changeling is a brave movie, not unlike other historical works of art. Included in such a list would be Uncle Tom’s Cabin, A Clockwork Orange, and various other compositions that make your stomach twist and turn. It addresses multiple issues that are and have been ever-present in the United States throughout its recent history. These issues include the treatment of mental illness, female disempowerment, corruption and abuse of power in law enforcement, and the word of the people versus the word of those in positions of authority. Allow me to include another noting following the listing of these issues: simply because the film takes place in 20th century North America does not and should not eliminate other countries from proper scrutiny for these same problems, as, you guessed it, they are littered all across the globe.
[bctt tweet=”Changeling is a very brave movie” username=”wearethetempest”]
The topic of the past treatment of psychiatric patients, specifically women, is generously portrayed in the movie. At one point in the film, a “code 12” is repeatedly referred to. “Code 12” was allegedly used for instances in which a patient was to be committed to a mental institution due to a law enforcement officer’s direct request. Now, for the sake of preserving as much of the film as possible, I will cease this commentary here. However, I feel that unless you live in a world of meadows and butterflies, you understand at this point that potential and dangerous situations could result from this code.
Abuse of power and law enforcement corruption, in general, are also quite evident throughout the film; in fact, I would go so far as to state that it is the main theme of the film. It is touched upon almost immediately after the film’s beginning, and commentary on the matter begins to intensify and grow into outrageous proportions as events escalate. However, what is even more outrageous is that the portrayal of such corruption in the film is not hyperbolic. These important affairs in question have popped up various times in the history of the United States and continue to pop up globally to this day. In fact, I am sure that by now – and pardon my simplistic language – we are all aware that this is still a thing.
The bottom line is this: Changeling is a film that everybody should watch and finish, no matter how much anger or discomfort is evoked throughout. Sometimes, uncomfortable feelings are unavoidable symptoms of witnessing injustice.
[bctt tweet=”Everyone should watch this movie” username=”wearethetempest”]