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Christine: Antonio Campos’ Intense Biopic

A woman working in a male-dominated field was especially difficult in the 1970s, as portrayed in Antonio Campos’s 2016 film Christine. This film was based on the true life events of journalist Christine Chubbuck.

For Christine, being a reporter in Sarasota, Florida was difficult. She struggled with depression and became more and more frustrated as she tried to advance her career. She wanted to focus on relevant stories, while her news station focused on violence for ratings.

In an interview with MovieMaker magazine, Campos shared some thoughts he has in regards to Chubbuck.

“She was the first one to push this conversation to the public: the fact that the media is so obsessed with violence. Journalists were all aware of what was happening to the news—the kind of stories that were getting pushed to the front, and the stories that were getting pushed back in the lineup. Christine was probably very aware of that conversation.”

This issue can still be seen in media and news today, and Campos executed the difficulties that Chubbuck endured very well.

Rebecca Hall plays Chubbuck in this film. Hall also did an interview with MovieMaker magazine. She points out the relevance of the work from a feminist perspective.

“There’s a sense of, ‘How soft do you have to be, as a woman, in order to be acceptable?’ She’s not rewarded for her hard work. She’s exploited, and her ambitions are simultaneously thwarted. That is, I think, something of a woman’s position at that time, and arguably still.”

Playing this intense role was very important to get right. Hall explained, “I just thought, ‘Finally, an opportunity for a real, extreme antihero.’  Girls don’t get to play them very often, honestly. These sort of extreme characters that I feel a lot of my acting heroes, who are men, get to do, like Robert De Niro in The King of Comedy.

Chubbuck struggled with mental illness throughout her life. She spoke to her family about her condition, but did not receive the help that she truly needed. However, the film never victimized her. It showed her strengths and talents along with the illness she carried.  

The Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides an online resource for locating mental health treatment facilities and programs. The Mental Health Treatment Locator section of the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator lists facilities providing mental health services to persons with mental illness. If you or someone you know needs help, you can find a facility in your state here.  

This film is more than just a feminist picture. For Campos, another core value to this story revolved around mental illness. Chubbuck suffered from depression, and this film excellently depicts the conflicts that mental illness can cause in personal and work affairs. This film gave Hall the opportunity to play a critical female lead about a real woman who struggled, as well as brought attention to issues in media that need to be addressed.

Featured Image by Stephen Dann on Flickr
Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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1 Comment

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    March 4, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Loved the article on Christine by Ariana Kraft. Depression is often over-looked for just moodiness or some other reason other than the true problem. Reading this article gave insight to the problem and reference where to receive the info needed to help.

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