Sunday, January 4, 2009


Changeling is a 2008 American period thriller directed by Clint Eastwood and written by J. Michael Straczynski. The film begins in 1928 Los Angeles and tells the true story of a woman who recognizes that the boy returned after her son's disappearance is an impostor. After confronting the city authorities, she is vilified as an unfit mother and branded delusional. The events were related to the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, a kidnapping and murder case that was uncovered in 1928. Changeling explores themes such as disempowerment of women and corruption in political hierarchies. The film was made by Imagine Entertainment and Malpaso Productions for Universal Pictures. Ron Howard was to direct, but scheduling conflicts led to his replacement by Eastwood. Howard and Imagine partner Brian Grazer produced, alongside Malpaso's Robert Lorenz and Eastwood.

Straczynski was told of the case by a contact at Los Angeles City Hall. He spent a year researching it through archived city records before writing the script, most of which was taken from the historical record. The shooting script was not changed from Straczynski's first draft and was his first produced film screenplay. Principal photography began on October 15, 2007 and was completed in November 2007. Filming took place in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California. Visual effects were used to supplement shots with skylines, backdrops and digital extras. Eastwood's noted economical directing style extended to Changeling's shoot; actors and members of the crew remarked upon the calmness of the set and the short working days.

Angelina Jolie was cast in the lead partly because Eastwood felt her face fit the period setting. Several actors had campaigned for the part. Jeffrey Donovan, John Malkovich, Jason Butler Harner, Amy Ryan, Michael Kelly, Colm Feore and Peter Gerety are also featured. Most of the characters were based on their real life counterparts, while some were composites. Changeling premiered at the 61st Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2008, where it was met with critical acclaim. It had its North American premiere on October 4, 2008 at the 46th New York Film Festival, and was released wide in North American theaters on October 31, 2008 after a limited release that began on October 24, 2008. It was released in the United Kingdom on November 26, 2008, and will open in Australia on February 5, 2009. Changeling's wide release was met with a more mixed response than at Cannes. The acting and story were largely praised, with criticism focusing on its conventional presentation and lack of nuance.

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