I decided to resurrect my blog in light of the opening of Clint Eastwood’s film, “Changeling”, because I am deeply disappointed by what I’ve read in the reviews.
The other day, the Los Angeles Times printed an article telling the true story of Christine Collins’ case. The following was mentioned in the second paragraph, in describing her:
“[Christine Collins] was also a professional woman who worked at the telephone company and apparently prided herself on maintaining a nonemotional, businesslike manner when dealing with men in authority.”
The full L.A. Times story can be found here.
I did an online search and found these photos of the real Christine Collins (from the L.A. Public Library Archives):
The L.A. Times story includes a clip from “Changeling”. After seeing this clip and others, I am disgusted. It seems to me that Christine Collins was a woman of professionalism and dignity, yet she is being portrayed in this film as a hysterical, screaming and crying drama-queen by Angelina Jolie. How dare Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie dishonor the memory of this strong and brave woman!
Christine Collins made a positive difference; she was an unlikely pioneer. One of the final outcomes of her suing the City of Los Angeles was the California State Legislature passing a law that requires law enforcement to have a warrant before a person can be incarcerated in a (lock up) psychiatric ward/facility. Because of Christine Collins, the cops can’t simply decide they don’t like your attitude and have you locked up in a psych ward to make you go away (and discredit you).
A few important points of correction (of factual errors in both the film AND reviews):
1) The Collins case was not “Depression-Era”; Walter Collins went missing (and a different boy “returned” to his mother) in 1928. The “Depression Era” was the 1930’s (the crash was in 1929).
2) Christine Collins was not “working class”; she was “middle class”. She did very well for herself.
3) At the time of Walter’s disappearance, Ms. Collins’ ex-husband was in jail for his involvement in running a speak-easy.
4) When the police “returned” a boy to Ms. Collins that was not Walter, she said, “I do not think that is my son”. The police responded by telling Ms. Collins that, because of the months-long trauma that she had endured, her memory was likely failing her. This is a very important point. Christine Collins was not some weak, damsel-in-distress submissive female who allowed herself to be convinced by the police that the boy looked different because he had been “starving” (as she is portrayed in the film); rather, the police sadistically took advantage of her vulnerable state of mind. Any person who has been through psychological trauma–male or female–is vulnerable to manipulation by those in positions of authority. The point of the “Try him out” suggestion to Ms. Collins was that she would take the boy home and later, when the trauma and shock “wore off”, she would “remember” the boy as being her son.
On a final note, here is a photo of Christine Collins’ son, Walter. Ms. Collins submitted this photo to the LAPD with the attached note (seen in lower left corner) in explaining how the boy they brought to her was not her son Walter:
Keywords: Christine Collins, Changeling, Clint Eastwood, Angelina Jolie, movie