Changeling (film)

On a white background, the top left of the poster is dominated by a woman's head looking down on a much smaller silhouette of a child in the bottom right corner. The woman is pale with prominent red lips and is wearing a brown cloche hat. Across the top of the poster are the names "Angelina Jolie" and "John Malkovich" in uppercase white. Adjacent to the child is the title "Changeling" in uppercase black. Above are the words "A true story" in uppercase red. Underneath is the tagline in uppercase black: "To find her son, she did what no one else dared."
Theatrical release poster
Directed byClint Eastwood
Written byJ. Michael Straczynski
Produced by
CinematographyTom Stern
Edited by
Music byClint Eastwood
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • October 24, 2008 (2008-10-24)
Running time
142 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$55 million
Box office$113.4 million

Changeling is a 2008 American mystery crime drama film directed, produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood and written by J. Michael Straczynski.[1] The story was based on real-life events, specifically the 1928 Wineville Chicken Coop murders in Mira Loma, California. It stars Angelina Jolie as a woman united with a boy who she realizes is not her missing son. When she tries to demonstrate that to the police and city authorities, she is vilified as delusional, labeled as an unfit mother and confined to a psychiatric ward. The film explores themes of child endangerment, female disempowerment, political corruption, and mistreatment of mental health patients.

Working in 1983 as a special correspondent for the now defunct TV-Cable Week magazine, Straczynski first learned the story of Christine Collins and her son from a Los Angeles City Hall contact.[2] Over the ensuing years he kept researching the story but never felt he was ready to tackle it. Out of television writing for several years and known to be difficult to work with, he returned to researching and then finally writing the story in 2006.[3] Almost all of the film's script was drawn from thousands of pages of documentation.[Note 1] His first draft became the shooting script; it was his first film screenplay to be produced. Ron Howard had intended to direct the film, but scheduling conflicts led to his replacement by Eastwood. Howard and his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer produced Changeling alongside Malpaso Productions' Robert Lorenz and Eastwood. Universal Pictures financed and distributed the film.

Several actors campaigned for the leading role; ultimately, Eastwood decided that Jolie's face would suit the 1920s period setting. The film also stars Jeffrey Donovan, Jason Butler Harner, John Malkovich, Michael Kelly and Amy Ryan. While some characters are composites, most are based on actual people. Principal photography, which began on October 15, 2007 and concluded a few weeks later in December, took place in Los Angeles and other locations in southern California. Actors and crew noted that Eastwood's low-key direction resulted in a calm set and short working days. In post production, scenes were supplemented with computer-generated skylines, backgrounds, vehicles and people.

Changeling premiered to critical acclaim at the 61st Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2008. Additional festival screenings preceded a limited release in the United States on October 24, 2008, followed by a general release in North America on October 31, 2008; in the United Kingdom on November 26, 2008; and in Australia on February 5, 2009. Critical reaction was more mixed than at Cannes. While the acting and story were generally praised, the film's "conventional staging" and "lack of nuance" were criticized. Changeling earned $113 million in box-office revenue worldwide—of which $35.7 million came from the United States and Canada.[4]

Changeling earned Jolie numerous award nominations including the Academy Award for Best Actress, the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

  1. ^ "Changeling". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Archived from the original on November 17, 2016. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  2. ^ Straczynski, J. Michael (2019). Becoming Superman. HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 227–228.
  3. ^ Straczynski, J. Michael (2019). Becoming Superman. HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 382–394.
  4. ^ "Changeling". Archived from the original on June 1, 2009.

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