“Changeling”: Yes, I’ve Seen It

November 3, 2008 at 6:46 pm (Uncategorized)

A number of people posted comments (that I subsequently deleted) on my “Real Christine Collins” entry, saying, “Obviously, you haven’t seen the movie”, or “Maybe you should see the movie first”, and so on. 

I’ve seen “Changeling”. I saw it because of my interest in the Northcott case. I watched about 10-15 minutes of clips before the limited release, and, despite my disgust with Jolie’s performance, went to see the entire film anyway. I live in an area that got the film during the “limited release”.

Now that that’s been cleared up, in addition to what I said in my original Christine Collins entry, let me say this:

Angelina Jolie cried/got teary-eyed 15 times in this film (yes, I counted). Seven of those 15 times were in the first half-hour. The movie was 140 minutes long, and that includes opening and closing credits. Jolie was not in every scene, so let’s give a fair estimate that she was in 120 minutes of the film. That means that, on average, Angelina Jolie got weepy/cried about every eight minutes.

She cried on the phone, she cried at work, she cried at the police station, she cried at the train station, she cried in the hospital, she cried in court, she cried at the hearing (it was annoying as hell)…this is NOT the behavior of a “strong, brave, courageous” woman. Strong, brave, courageous women pull themselves together and don’t constantly “lose it” in public, regardless of how devastated and grief-stricken they may be. Strong women have self-control and exercise self-restraint: They do not scream and cry hysterically at police officers, doctors, nurses, and children, no matter how frustrated, upset or overwhelmed they may feel. 

I have no doubt that Christine Collins was devastated, fearful, grief-stricken, and anguished over her son’s disappearance, but the truth is that she DID NOT act out emotionally and hysterically when dealing with the authorities. Her behavior was non-emotional, composed and business-like; the LAPD actually tried to use this fact as a defense during the hearing over Christine Collins’ wrongful incarceration (as seen and heard in the film).

Just how well did she keep her composure? Going back to my “Real Christine Collins” entry, look at the second picture (the one with the frame on it). That photograph of Christine Collins was taken at San Quentin Prison, while she was waiting to speak with Gordon Stewart Northcott before his execution. Her facial expression shows her anguish, yet her stance and body language show confidence, composure, and dignity. 

Those who claim that “any parent” would be hysterical, that excessive crying and emotional acting-out is the “normal” reaction of a loving mother over the disappearance of her son are of the same sexist mentality as the officers who treated Christine Collins so badly: The mentality that women are normally highly emotional and hysterical (and thus unable to be objective and logical), particularly when it comes to matters involving their children. It is neither fair nor appropriate to infer that one speaks for all parents.

Some parents express their emotions privately while maintaining a more business-like composure in public. Christine Collins was one of those parents, and Angelina Jolie failed at portraying this very significant aspect of her real-life character’s personality in “Changeling”.

Keywords: Changeling, movie, The Real Christine Collins, Northcott, Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, Walter Collins, LAPD, 1928, Angelina Jolie, Clint Eastwood, sexism, women



  1. Maxine said,

    First, I want to say I can rarely read a blog these days because some are so full of nonsense. However, I completley agree with you and nearly walked out halfway through because I coudl not take all her damn crying. Your previous blog on the “real” story was incredibly informative and appreciated.

    • Cira Avalone said,

      Wow, do you both have ice running thru your veins? You are both ridiculous
      If you can worry about appearances while you child has been missing, then discovered, kidnapped , then to find he was taken by a monster, I believe leads most people to see you as a monster, yourself. Selfish, beyond anything known to man.
      You both make me sick, yet happy to know neither of you are in my life, or the lives of anyone I care about.

  2. James Jeffrey Paul said,

    Dear 2 Black Cats (I own 1 black cat myself!),

    Thank you for your kind endorsement of my book, NOTHING IS STRANGE WITH YOU. I fully agree with what you said about the “real” Christine Collins’s behavior. Many parents in such a situation might feel like crying 24 hours a day, but force themselves to act in a restrained manner because to do otherwise would be counterproductive. If you really care about someone and that person is in danger, your fear/anxiety/grief would and should force you to keep your head and deal with the situation, not spend all your time emoting.

    James Jeffrey Paul

    • lucybottomface said,

      In reply to the main body- strong women can also cry. It is not a sign of weakness to cry. It is sexist to suggest that strong women must not do so. The strength is in continuing to fight, not in doing so like an automaton.

      Now to the comment: “if you really care about someone…” Does that mean that every parent of a missing child who’s ever been crying hysterically on the news didn’t really care about their child? Or that their tears were in some way a disservice to their child?

      We do not know how Ms Collins truly conducted herself all of the time. You have reports to go on. Any historian worth a pinch of salt will tell you that reports, with all their biases, are no indicator of facts.

  3. Pave said,

    I just commented on the original post, but I believe my comments stand as well here, and would have been better suited, in fact, to this entry. I apologise that I didn’t see this one originally to make my comments; the other comes up earlier in search results.

  4. Tabitha Bond said,

    I apologize for the comment I left on the other part. If you’ve not read it, I basically stated that despite Christine Collin’s strong confident nature, it is no surprise that she may have acted hysterically because I believe that if anyone’s child would be missing and possibly murdered, they would act hysterically. I partly agree with you, and I apologize for posting my comment when you know FAR more about this case than I do. But, I will not apologize for what I believe to be the truth which is that just because Collins was strong, does not mean that her hurt was not visible on the outside. Maybe she cried, and maybe she did act hysterically. How would you know? You did not know her. My explaination for her acting emotionless while dealing with the LAPD was most likely simply because at that time she was angry and at that certain moment that anger was overpowering her hurt for her missing son. She was frustrated and angry that she was pretty much being called a liar. When she of all people would know her son. It hurts my hurt to think about this story; I don’t want to argue and I apologize for so boldy and bluntly, and, rudely stating my opinion on this and I did not mean to be rude.

  5. Jennifer said,

    Too much crying?? Are you all crazy? Losing a child is a pretty sad thing. To be honest I didn’t think she came across as sad /convincing enough. I would need a straight jacket for real if I lost a child.

  6. Kira said,

    Pardon me, but why was my comment removed?

    I’ve been doing more research and have some across a letter from Mrs. Borton whom Christine lived with after all this… In it it says this:

    “The mental strain she has been under has been greater than the ordinary woman could bear without breaking mentally, yet she has borne up, even triumphed over it all.

    Physically, she is a nervous wreck. Unable to hold any position no matter how capable she might be mentally to hold it. Often unable to leave her bed for two or three days at a time on account of acute nervous headaches.”

    Found here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thedailymirror/2008/12/voices—-ch-14.html

    • 2blackcats said,

      Pardon me, but comments that contain personal attacks are removed.

      • XYZ said,

        2black cats you’re an idiot and a sexist. Simply because a woman cries AFTER LOSING A CHILD, does NOT make her not strong or brave. A woman can cry for any reason and yes be histerical at times, and still be strong, brave, and heroic. Seriously wtf is worng with you?

  7. Helen said,

    I think it would be a little hard to make a movie about an abducted, murdered child where the parent doesn’t cry. I don’t think the audience would really connect with it. Most people would be sitting there watching it going, “Why isn’t she/he sad about this?” Most people would at least get a little steamy eyed if their child went missing and the police weren’t helping.

  8. amazie said,

    Greetings, again. I apologise for my first comment, I was unaware you actually saw the movie. I can understand why you consider the Christine Collins of the movie as a “weeper”, but I believe she was portrayed as brave because of the fact that she was willing to endure anything just to get the police to listen. She was willing to endure electric shocks; to me, that represents bravery and determination. Facing the murderer of your own child also seems to be a sing of courage, to me, anyhow, I can understand how you can be of a different opinion, and I respect that. I just want you to know that I disagree with it, and that I believe that Christine Collins in the movie was played with fierce passion. In my mind, the real Christine Collins can rest in peace…. May God bless her soul.
    I want to thank you to bringing this to light… I’ll always think of Christine Collins, without any doubt whatsoever, as a strong woman, determined yet rational and logical. Thank you.

  9. Mark L said,

    I know this is way after the movie came out, but when I came across this blog I felt a need to comment. I agree that one has to look at this from a Hollywood perspective. To play the role in an impassionate manner would detract from the gravity of the movie. Viewers need to relate emotionally with the main character and that would not have been possible if AJ played her role differently and that would have done the memory of Christine Collins a disservice. Her portrayal didn’t take anything away from the real person’s achievements or conviction, but merely added a level of humanity we can all relate to.

  10. Barbara Alley said,

    The movie was a very good film a bout a horrible incident in this woman’s life worsening because of the corrupt police force. I was deeply moved and appreciated the acting and directing plus this being a true story
    . Thank you Mr. Eastwood.

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