Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gaslight in a New Age

Today I rented GASLIGHT, the wonderful moody film starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. I loved it when I first saw it, and I'm going to try to make my boys look beyond the black and white (which they see as primitive and somehow not good) to the coolness of the story.

It's an appropriate choice, since I had my own GASLIGHT moment this week. The premise of the movie, of course, is that the cruel Charles Boyer is trying to make Ingrid Bergman's character appear insane, even to herself.

This week I was going to show another moody film to my writing class--the movie REBECCA. I accidentally ordered the wrong disk from Netflix (I had wanted the Joan Fontaine version), so I decided to go with my second choice, the PBS version with Emilia Fox, which we had in the library at the school at which I teach.

I went there and perused the shelves--I knew the color of the DVD, knew it was a double set, knew what was on the cover. I'd shown it before; I'd held it in my hand. Still, I couldn't locate it, so when Molly, our wonderful librarian, came by, I asked her about it.

"I can't find REBECCA," I said. "Do you know if someone took it out?"

"The novel?" she asked.

"No--the DVD. We purchased it a couple of years ago and I've shown it to my class," I said.

She looked perplexed. "I've never seen that movie before. Let me check our system."

It wasn't in the system. Only the novel was listed there. "Let me ask Sue when she comes in," she said. (Sue is the other librarian). "I'm sure she'll know something about it."

Sue didn't know when she came in; she had never seen the DVD; neither had Molly.

"But I know it was here," I said. "I could swear it was on the shelf last week! And Judy (a former librarian) bought it for my class when I created a writing assignment around it!"

It didn't ring a bell: not with the librarians, the other teachers, or the English Department Chair. It was as if the film had never been here--except that I was sure it had. I was starting to fear they would tell me that Judy had never existed.

I still have no resolution for the film that never was. We've left a message for Judy, who is retired, to see if she can shed light on the problem.

In the meantime, I am left questioning the validity of my own memory. Perhaps I'm just looking for an excuse to compare myself to the beautiful Ingrid Bergman, but I saw a parallel between the situations.

Anyone else ever had a GASLIGHT moment?


Unknown said...

Yes, those Gaslight moments become more common as I get older. For some reason, my husband of 20 years and I remember some events from our marriage very differently.

We were having an Angela Lansbury filmfest at our house and saw Gaslight last weekend. It was the first time our daughter Emily had seen the film (she is 8) and was outraged by what Boyer was doing to Bergman's character. Righteous indignation on such a small face is fun to watch.

Liz - reviewedbyliz.com

Julia Buckley said...

Hi, Liz!

Oh, I was infuriated by Boyer at a young age, too! I must say the actor does a wonderful job of going from relatively charming to utterly creepy. He even LOOKS slimier at the end.

And that young Angela Lansbury--I just want to slap her face. :)