Unable to sleep I came across the film An American Crime. I read the brief information provided and learned the stars were Catherine Keener and Ellen Page so I decided to watch. I had never heard of the production or the true story of Sylvia Likens (Page) and what was considered the most horrible documented crime on an individual in the history of Indianapolis.
I watched with a knot in my stomach that just kept twisting as the film became more macabre, vicious and frightening, it was almost unbelievable. Unfortunately what I was watching was true and extremely tame compared to the actual crimes perpetrated on Sylvia by Gertrude Baniszewski (Keener). The film inter-cut between the courtroom testimony of the other five children and Sylvia’s own sister who were being cared for by “Gertie.” What I saw was so difficult that this is not going to be a film review at this time, but my reaction.
As soon as the film was over I googled the story and found myself reading various newspaper and journal articles. I wanted an answer as to how this could happen? I also wanted to know what the value was in making such a horrific, terrifying film? Only one conclusion made sense and both stars echoed the sentiment that her story needed to be told. Perhaps because it is so disturbing, it may make someone do something if ever they suspect that abuse is going on. Finally to remind people that Sylvia is just one precious life struck down by cruel, mentally unfit adults, scared children and seriously flawed judgement by so many others who could have, with one word saved this girls life.
No one said a thing as screams emanated from that house. Children told parents who either did not believe it or somehow ignored it for whatever reason. And neighbors, who heard just stayed to themselves. This is the crime which boils my blood as much as the torture Sylvia endured and that is the stark reality with which people live.
Ellen Page’s performance is heartbreaking and I wonder how one might be mentally able to sustain work in such a role. I can’t imagine it not being something that will haunt her on some level. Keener, although played with restraint is demonic, depraved, desperate and cruel. In reconciling whether to do the film (which she originally refused) she finally decided that as a mother she had to.
While we were laughing it up and watching Juno, Page was making a film quite different, important and controversial. This is not for everyone. It is a true crime story played out in gruesome fashion. Yet for the Sylvia’s who lived and died this way perhaps it should be seen and discussed.
“What can be worse than the total agony of being in love?”As spoken by an eleven year old from a line in the film, Love Actually. If you pause for one second and think about it, isn’t love the absolute worst thing ever? I mean it is sheer torture yet it is vital and what we all live for ultimately. Some say it’s not Love but Sex that we do all the work for i.e. Sigmund Freud, but I don’t think he had that one quite figured out.
The absence of love can create the most distressing feelings inside. Sadness, loneliness, the shallow feeling of hating the couple walking hand in hand in front of you on the street. What a nightmare. Yet when in love that couple barely exists for the focus is not on them, but on your own hand in that of your loved ones. Total nonsense I think, turns us into absolute jerks doesn’t it?What is it about love that can have you raging in anger and reeling from joy in the matter of minutes? How is it that we, seemingly rational human beings allow ourselves such beastly behavior? I know its chemical and I know we can’t help it, but why do we put ourselves through it time and again?
Why do we let love in, and then let it ravage us so completely often leaving us in tatters and destroyed? Then as time passes we consciously (or not) do it all over again, risking the same awful result? As adults are we not to learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. When we touch the super hot radiator, don’t we actively avoid it so as not to burn again?
What makes love different? I want to know what you think. I am clearly at a loss because I am responsible for the horrid behavior I speak of. Please share your thoughts with me. Maybe together we can solve this Love thing once and for all? Highly unlikely but worth a shot, no?
” Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love? Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”
Repost from 2008 election. How things change and how they stay the same:
Today November 4, 2008 we are all a part of the most important event in political history. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate might possibly become the first black president of the United States. Watching the two years of endless campaigning has been daunting, annoying, and often shocking. Republican nominee John McCain, a Vietnam veteran and POW opposes the historical Democratic nominee.
While I am writing I am seeing voter turn out in the tri-state area at an all time high rate with lines outside the door in some locations.
Whatever your thoughts are on the campaign, the candidates or issues one thing can not be denied and that is the importance of this unprecedented election.
What has been a campaign fraught with many unpleasant, ignorant and even funny moments, now comes down to voting. Nothing would surprise me today or tonight. I just hope that tomorrow morning there is a new president elect. May the best man win.