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7 Feb 2009

Great Movie


Changeling is a movie directed by Clint Eastwood. Angelina Jolie is the lead cast of this thriller. The film is based on the true story of a woman who recognizes that the boy returned after her son's disappearance is an impostor. Personally, I think it's a touching story, with the reflection of the real life events.

Plot summary:

In 1928 Los Angeles, single mother Christine Collins returns home one day to discover her nine-year-old son, Walter, is missing. Reverend Gustav Briegleb publicizes Christine's plight and rails against the Los Angeles Police Department for its incompetence, corruption and the extrajudicial punishment meted out by its "Gun Squad", led by Police Chief James E. Davis. Several months later, Christine is told her son has been found alive. A public reunion is organized by police, who believe the positive publicity will negate recent criticism of the department. Although "Walter" claims to be Christine's son, she says he is not. Captain J. J. Jones, the head of the LAPD's Juvenile Division, insists the boy is Walter and pressures Christine into taking him home "on a trial basis".

After Christine confronts Jones with physical discrepancies between "Walter" and her son, Jones has a doctor visit her. He tells Christine that "Walter" is shorter because trauma has shrunk his spine and that the man who took Walter had him circumcised. A newspaper story appears that implies Christine is an unfit mother. Christine meets with Briegleb, who tells her the story was planted by police to discredit her. He also tells her of the corruption rife in the department, and of the Gun Squad's despotic rule over the city's streets. Walter's teacher and dentist give Christine signed letters confirming "Walter" is an impostor. Christine arranges a press conference during which she tells her story. At Jones' order, Christine is taken to Los Angeles County Hospital's "psychopathic ward". Christine is befriended by inmate Carol Dexter, who tells Christine she is one of several women who were imprisoned for challenging police authority. Dr. Steele deems Christine delusional and forces her to take mood-regulating pills. Steele says he will release Christine if she admits she was mistaken about "Walter". She refuses.

Detective Ybarra is called to a ranch at Wineville, Riverside County to arrange the deportation of 15-year-old Sanford Clark to Canada. The boy's uncle, Gordon Northcott, has fled after being unwittingly alerted by Ybarra to his visit. Clark tells Ybarra that Northcott forced him to assist in kidnapping and murdering approximately twenty children and identifies Walter as one of them. Jones tells Briegleb that Christine is in protective custody following a mental breakdown. Jones orders Clark deported, but Ybarra makes Clark reveal the murder site. Briegleb secures Christine's release by showing Steele a newspaper that details the Wineville killings and names Walter as a possible victim. "Walter" reveals his motive was to secure transportation to Los Angeles to see his favorite actor, Tom Mix, and says the police told him to lie about being Christine's son. Northcott is captured in Vancouver, Canada. Christine has an attorney secure a court order to release the women unfairly imprisoned by police.

On the day of the city council's hearing into the case, Christine and Briegleb arrive at Los Angeles City Hall, where they encounter thousands of protestors who are demanding answers from the city. The hearing is intercut with scenes from Northcott's trial. The council concludes that Jones and Davis should be removed from duty, and extrajudicial internments by police must be reviewed. Northcott is found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. Two years later, Christine has not given up her search for Walter. She is told Northcott is willing to admit killing Walter on condition that Christine meets him before his execution. Northcott refuses to tell her whether or not he killed her son, and he is executed the next day. In 1935, David Clay—one of the boys assumed to have been killed—is found alive. He reveals that one of the boys with whom he was imprisoned was Walter. David, Walter and another boy escaped, but were separated. David does not know whether Walter was recaptured, giving Christine hope he is alive.
Historical context:
Disappearance of Walter Collins
Changeling is based on the true story of the kidnapping and supposed return of Christine Collins' nine-year-old son, Walter. The aftermath of his disappearance exposed corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department and the city's political hierarchy, leading to the dismissal of senior civic leaders. Walter went missing on March 10, 1928, after having been given money by his mother to go to the cinema. His disappearance received nationwide attention, and the Los Angeles Police Department followed up on hundreds of leads without success. The department faced increasing public pressure to solve the case, until five months after Walter's disappearance, when a boy claiming to be Walter was found in DeKalb, Illinois. Collins paid for the boy to be brought to Los Angeles, where a public reunion was organized by police. Collins' claims that the boy was not Walter were met by police Captain J.J Jones' urging her to "try [the boy] out for a couple of weeks".

When Collins returned to see Captain Jones three weeks later to repeat her claim, he had her committed to the psychopathic ward at Los Angeles County Hospital. During Collins' incarceration, Jones questioned the boy, who admitted to being 12-year-old Arthur Hutchens. A diner at a roadside café in Illinois had told Hutchens of his resemblance to the missing Walter, so Hutchens came up with the plan to impersonate him. His motive was to get to Hollywood so he could meet his favorite actor, Tom Mix. Collins was released and filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department. Collins went on to win the second of two lawsuits and was awarded $10,800, which Jones never paid. The city council welfare hearing recommended that Jones and Chief Davis leave their posts, but both were eventually reinstated. In the aftermath of the case, the California State Legislature passed a bill that made it illegal for the police to commit someone to a psychiatric facility without a warrant.

Wineville murders
Main article: Wineville Chicken Coop Murders
In 1926, 14-year-old Sanford Clark was taken from his home in Saskatchewan, Canada by his uncle, Gordon Stewart Northcott. Clark was taken to Northcott's ranch in Wineville, Riverside County, where he was beaten and sexually abused by Northcott. A family member informed police of the situation, and in September 1928, police found Clark at the ranch and took him into custody. Clark claimed that Northcott had kidnapped, molested and killed several young boys with the help of Northcott's mother—Sarah Louise Northcott—and the forced participation of Clark himself. The police found no complete bodies at the site—Clark said the bodies were dumped in the desert—but discovered body parts, the personal effects of several missing children, and blood-stained axes.

Northcott and his mother had fled to Canada, but they were arrested and extradited to the United States. Northcott's mother initially confessed to the murders, including that of Walter Collins. She later retracted her statement, as did Gordon Northcott, who had confessed to killing five boys. Gordon Northcott was subsequently convicted of the murders of Lewis and Nelson Winslow (12 and 10 respectively), and an unidentified Mexican boy, though the authorities believed Northcott may have killed as many as 20. He was executed by hanging in 1930. Sarah Louise Northcott was convicted of Walter Collins' murder and served almost twelve years in prison before being paroled. After Gordon Northcott's execution, one of the boys thought to have been killed was found alive. In 1930, the residents of Wineville changed the town's name to Mira Loma, partly to escape the notoriety brought by the case.
These are some of the comments regarding the thriller:
Changeling is unforgettable; for its extraordinary story, for Angelina Jolie's haunting performance, for its subtly beautiful cinematography, for Clint Eastwood's masterful filmmaking-Louise Keller, Urban Cinelife
Changeling, like Letters from Iwo Jima before it, is a mature, thoughtful and sometimes brutal movie that casts a cold eye on the past while sending shivers through the present-Kevin Maher, Times (UK)
This is an Oscar-calibre performance from Angelina Jolie. She conveys a sense of grief, desperation, fear, sadness and determination that is absolutely palpable-Erin Free, FILMINK (Australia)
*Courtesy of Wikipedia and www.rottentomatoes.com.

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