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469 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Clint Eastwood directs Oscar winner Angelina Jolie and Oscar nominee John Malkovich in a riveting and unforgettable true story. Los Angeles, 1928. When single mother Christine Collins (Jolie) leaves for work, her son vanishes without a trace. Five months later, the police reunite mother and son; but he isn’t her boy. Driven by one woman’s relentless quest for the truth, the case exposes a world of corruption, captivates the public and changes Los Angeles forever. This emotionally gripping story illustrates the profound power of a mother’s love in “a mesmerizing film that burns in the memory” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone).

Clint Eastwood’s mastery as a director, established over the past decade and a half with Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima, and others, continues with Changeling, a 2008 offering based on a shocking but all-too-true story about child abduction and police corruption in 1920s Los Angeles. Single mother Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie, excellent in a role with somewhat limited parameters) finds her 9-year-old son, Walter, missing when she returns home from work one day. She files a report with the Los Angeles Police Department, an outfit that was wildly unpopular at the time (in his regular radio broadcast, a crusading pastor played by John Malkovich decries the force as "violent and corrupt," adding that "our protectors are our brutalizers"). When a child roughly matching Walter’s description turns up in Illinois five months later, the LAPD, intent on salvaging its tattered reputation, is only too eager to claim that he is Collins’ missing child. Little matters that he’s three inches shorter, is circumcised (Walter wasn’t), and fails to pass muster with Walter’s dentist, schoolteacher, and others; the cops, in particular the odious Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan), insist that the mistake is Christine’s, not theirs. What follows is almost too nightmarish to believe--except that it actually happened. Exasperated by Collins’ continued claim that "Walter" is a fraud, they trot out a doctor to reinforce the bogus ID, declare her unfit as a mother, and finally have her committed to a local psychopathic ward. Through it all, Collins, bolstered by the pastor and thousands of outraged Angelenos, refuses to sign a document that would exonerate the police for their egregious error. As for Walter, it’s only when the LAPD’s seemingly only honest detective (Michael Kelly) takes matters into his own hands that the grisly mystery of the child’s fate begins to be solved. That would have been a good place for the film to conclude, too. Unfortunately, it goes on for more than another half hour, with innumerable false endings that add nothing to the story and could just as easily have been summarized with a few sentences before the final credits. That flaw aside (and it’s a major one), Changeling is a powerful film, with a realistic period feel, a wonderfully muted vibe and color palette, and an understated score by Eastwood himself. --Sam Graham

Stills from Changeling (Click for larger image)

Special Features

  • Partners in Crime: Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie
  • The Common Thread: Angelina Jolie Becomes Christine Collins

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich, Jeffrey Donovan, Michael Kelly, Colm Feore
    • Directors: Clint Eastwood
    • Writers: J. Michael Straczynski
    • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Robert Lorenz
    • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
    • Subtitles: French, Spanish
    • Dubbed: French
    • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated: R (Restricted)
    • Studio: Universal Studios
    • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009
    • Run Time: 142 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (469 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B001NFNFNU
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,303 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Changeling" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    187 of 196 people found the following review helpful By Chris Pandolfi on October 26, 2008
    Format: Theatrical Release
    Clint Eastwood's "Changeling" is not easy to watch, but I implore you to give it a try. This is filmmaking at its finest. It's all at once heartbreaking, infuriating, touching, empowering, and immensely compelling, which is to say that it taps into core human emotions without being manipulative. It tells a story so absorbing, it's as if the movie is happening to us instead of just passing before our eyes. This is appropriate given the fact that it's a true story and not merely based on a true story; screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski relied on actual articles, transcripts, and testimonies to document the story of Los Angeles native Christine Collins, whose nine-year-old son, Walter, disappeared in March of 1928. Five months later, the LAPD returned a boy Collins knew was not her son. Because the police refused to admit that a mistake was made, they deemed Collins an unfit mother and subsequently had her committed to a mental institution. But she wouldn't be silenced, and with the help of some key figures, she took on one of the most shameful cases of police corruption in Los Angeles history.

    Angelina Jolie gives yet another wonderful performance as Collins, an honest, caring woman who was clearly striving for independence in a male-dominated society. She works diligently as the supervisor for a telephone company, so much so that she's offered a managerial position. As a single mother, she's firm yet nurturing, and she's upfront with her son (Gattlin Griffith) about why his father left before he was born. After Walter's disappearance, and after the wrong boy is returned to her, she initially faces the LAPD on her own, which leaves her with little since it's a tyrannical system motivated by power, not justice. There's a pivotal scene in which Chief of Police James E.
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    103 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Karen Franklin on November 2, 2008
    Format: Theatrical Release
    Changeling is a powerful film. It tells the forgotten story of a working-class woman who brought down the corrupt establishment of Los Angeles 80 years ago.

    Angelina Jolie gives a strong, Oscar-worthy performance as Christine Collins, a single mother and one of the first female supervisors at the phone company who refuses to bow down to corrupt police when her son vanished without a trace in 1928.

    Los Angeles on the brink of the Great Depression was an epitome of corruption. The police chief, James "Two Guns" Davis, had an officially sanctioned "gun squad" that terrorized opponents with impunity. When Collins' son Walter vanished, the L.A. police were embarrassed by their inability to find him. To squelch public criticism, they tried to convince Collins that a young drifter was her son. When Collins protested, police Captain J.J. Jones labeled her as histrionic and delusional and had her locked in a "psychopathic ward."

    Luckily for Collins, her plight came to the attention of Gustav A. Briegleb, a Presbyterian minister and community organizer who regularly lambasted police corruption on his radio show. Briegleb helped Collins get a lawyer and tell her story. Although the movie does not mention it, Collins' case led to passage of a law that prohibited police from incarcerating people in psychiatric facilities absent due process.

    Despite the compelling nature of Collins' story, it came close to being forgotten. The old records were about to be incinerated when a city worker telephoned screenwriter and former journalist J. Michael Straczynski and told him to come over and take a look. What Straczynski read that day was so compelling that he spent a year poring over city archives to reconstruct the case.
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    51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Richards HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 15, 2009
    Format: DVD
    Christine Collins: The boy they brought back is not my son.

    Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):

    1. A single mother's only son is missing
    2. It takes five months for the Police to reunite the mother and the boy who said "I am the one"
    3. But she knew that the kid was not her son
    4. The Police Captain insisted: "Don't go Changeling. She'll love you just the way you are"
    5. But she didn't
    6. ... and she learned the hard way why the Police Force had such a bad reputation
    7. They said she was crazy
    8. But she never gave up, always hoping that her son had flown the coop.

    Based on a true story, this heartbreaking movie may be difficult to watch, especially if you're a parent. A mother's greatest nightmare comes to life when her only child goes missing, and this unfortunately is just the beginning of a sordid tale of incompetence, stubbornness, malice, abuse of power, madness and murder.

    Angelina Jolie more than earns her Oscar nomination as Christine Collins, the young mother at the center of this story, and good performances are also seen from John Malkovich as a fiery Presbyterian minister, Amy Ryan as a wronged woman, and Jeffrey Donovan as the Police Captain that you'll hate for a long time.

    Recommended for fans of true crime stories, Angelina Jolie, and period movies that nail the sets and wardrobes.

    Amanda Richards, March 15, 2009
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    18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By HE WHO FUNKS BEHIND THE ROWS!! on March 15, 2009
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    This is fantastic story-telling, well put together, all elements
    in place and making perfect sense. Such have become the earmarks
    of a Clint Eastwood film..his taste and touch is impeccable
    as both a director and producer!
    (Of course, his acting, when he is acting, is nothing
    to sneeze at either!) Angelina Jolie did a wonderful job
    as a woman in the late 1920's who endures an unimaginable
    ordeal that must be seen to be believed!
    There were some moments that had me on the end of my seat
    and others that I almost couldn't bear, mainly the brutality
    of the child murderer who is revealed later into the film!
    Even though she is not reunited with her son, the story still
    finds a way to end on a ray of hope.
    This was definitely an oscar-worthy performance in a year
    of many oscar-worthy performances!
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    Did I miss something? Or was there a serious flaw in the film Changeling?
    Northcott went after the 3 boys, so he could have caught up to Walter and killed him on the spot. Northcott's cousin stayed at the house and was probably too frightened to ask if he (Northcott) found the escapees. Does this make sense?
    May 6, 2010 by Tiberius |  See all 3 posts
    True Story Behind CHANGELING to Be Published in September Be the first to reply
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