Monday, November 16, 2009

7th Art: Changeling (2008)

"Changeling" (2008) is another great movie directed by Clint Eastwood based on the true story of Christine Collins and her missing son Walter Collins, possibly a victim in the horrendous Wineville Chicken Coop murders.

The movie is tastefully produced and Angelina Jolie is very convincing as a tormented yet tireless mother. She carries the weight of the role with grace, creating great empathy for the character. John Malkovich has a small but important role as Presbyterian Rev. Gustav Briegleb and is able to transmit great moral authority, as the character commands.

The movie main lesson is wonderfully laid out by Eastwood: that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and that the only way to stop it is not by nourishing utopian political systems but by ensuring that there are enough checks and balances built into the institutional framework to reduce concentration of political power on the hands of few.

The movie very effectively shows how free speech, a free press, freedom of cult, and an independent judiciary were the main factors leading to the rescue of Ms. Collins and preventing further abuse of government power. None of these freedoms and guarantees would have been possible in a centrally planned socialist or communist society. The true story of the Collins family serves therefore as another cautionary tale for those who fail to understand this simple political principle.

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