The Snake Pit

The Snake Pit

DVD - 2004
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Following an emotional collapse a woman is placed by her husband in a mental institution where she grapples with mental illness and the treatments.

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d
DUVIDL
Jun 06, 2017

The more things change.....Smug `God 101` still rules. Only now, instead of no nonsense severity, it`s vapid, smug control. Bottom line: if you`re sane and foolish enough to tell the truth ("This medication is putting me in a spiraling, sickening depression.") you`ll NEVER get out - they`ll just increase your dosage until you lay down and die, then announce the medication made you so perky-perky you decided to kill yourself. Lie ("Oh, this stuff is good, GIVE ME MORE!) and they`ll escort you out on a red carpet. Of course, IF you`re truly, severely mentally ill to begin with, not only will they make it impossible to commit you, no matter how many people you attack or how many times you try to kill yourself, but any family member desperately trying to commit you and get you the help you need will be met with the full force of the ACLU and Mental Health Complex suing your family into bankruptcy and blocking every avenue of recourse for them. That is, until you finally succeed in killing yourself in the little apartment they`ve dumped you in and forgot all about your bi-polar existence. AND YOU`RE WONDERING WHY I`M ALL TICKED OFF ABOUT THE MEDIA HOOPLA AND TAX-PAYERS` MONEY GOING TO REMOVE AN OBSCURE CONFEDERATE MONUMENT TUCKED SO FAR BACK IN THE REAR END OF FOREST PARK THAT, UP UNTIL THREE MONTHS AGO, I WAS ONE OF, MAYBE, FIVE PEOPLE IN THE WHOLE OF THE MIDWEST WHO EVEN KNEW THE DAMN THING EXISTED?! OY-GEVALT!

j
jimg2000
Sep 19, 2015

Watched this 1948 B&W years ago. It was after the stunning 1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It was an interesting and memorable film on healthcare for the mentally ill at that time.

n
Nursebob
Sep 16, 2015

Drawn from author Mary Jane Ward’s own experiences following a nervous breakdown, Anatole Litvak’s gut-wrenching story about one woman’s struggle with mental illness was the first motion picture to deal with the subject candidly and realistically. Bleak institutional sets populated by a convincing cast of extras displaying everything from paranoid schizophrenia to nymphomania drive home a sense of isolation and unreality. Defined by locked doors and steel bars, Virginia’s shrunken world is a haze of doctor’s visits and confused encounters, frightening in its complexity as her mind struggles to make sense of it all. At one point she stands alone while the ward around her erupts into a madhouse with agitated patients casting wild shadows on the walls and the camera slowly panning upwards as if she were at the bottom of a pit. Although cutting edge at the time some of the psychoanalysis scenes are now quaintly outdated (A framed photograph of Freud glares from a psychiatrist's wall), and the nursing staff are unjustly portrayed as mean-spirited handmaidens. But when you take into consideration that not only was this the first film of its kind but it sparked a host of mental health reforms to boot, these are small criticisms indeed. A true tour de force.

kevfarley Nov 23, 2013

Perhaps the scariest movie of my childhood ! I don't remember most of it.

m
Monolith
Mar 26, 2013

Olivia de Havilland was absolutely phenomenal in this. The woman was effortlessly capable of delivering credible emotional swings on demand as the disheveled Virginia: either be it welling up with tears or that infectious adorable smile of hers. Best thing I've seen her in (check out "The Dark Mirror", too). And the story, of being committed to an insane asylum, was some pretty scary stuff. I can't imagine the horrors that went on in sanitariums (sanitaria?) in the '40s, but this was a pretty convincing glimpse (shock treatments, overcrowded "boot camps" with sadistic pinched-faced "drill sergeant" head nurses, etc.). I would've given this compelling terror trip five stars, but I was a little disappointed with Litvak's ending... Still a great flick.

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j
jimg2000
Sep 19, 2015

The snake pit (from IMDb:)

Virginia: It was strange, here I was among all those people, and at the same time I felt as if I were looking at them from some place far away, the whole place seemed to me like a deep hole and the people down in it like strange animals, like... like snakes, and I've been thrown into it... yes... as though... as though I were in a snake pit...
Dr. Kik: A snake pit?
Virginia: Later, weeks later, I understood. I remembered once reading in a book that long ago they used to put insane people into pits full of snakes. I think they figured that something which might drive a normal person insane, might shock an insane person back into sanity. Did you ever hear of that?
Dr. Kik: Yes.
Virginia: Well, it was just as though they'd thrown me into a snake pit. And I was shocked into thinking that maybe I wasn't as sick as the others... and I really might get well.

j
jimg2000
Sep 19, 2015

Dr. Gifford: Now now, doctor, we're not trying to minimize the importance of the treatment you're giving your patient.
Dr. Curtis: The trouble is for you each case is 'the one,' and for us it's one of thousands.
Doctor Kik: Yes, Curtis, one of thousands, even millions. But only by trying to make each case 'the one' can we really help the patient.
Dr. Curtis: I happen to have here some of the more recent statistics. Ah yes, here they are. Sometimes even we doctors must face reality.

m
Monolith
Mar 26, 2013

Virginia Stuart Cunningham: "What's the matter with me? Is it a brain tumor?" Robert Cunningham: "You've had a nervous breakdown..." Virginia Stuart Cunningham: "Nervous breakdown... That doesn't sound so bad, does it!"

m
Monolith
Mar 26, 2013

Mrs. Greer: "Good afternoon, my dear. I don't think I've had the pleasure of seeing you here before." Virginia Stuart Cunningham: "I'm Virginia Cunningham. I came from Five." Mrs. Greer: "Nobody comes to One from Five. Even I had to spend a few days in Two before coming here. And I, my dear, have -- money." Virginia Stuart Cunningham: "That must be convenient." Mrs. Greer: "My husband, Mr. Greer, is VERY wealthy. I have more jewels than I can possibly wear. You of course, are a... charity patient?" Virginia Stuart Cunningham: "Oh, no... It so happens that MY husband, Mr. Cunningham, is very wealthy. My diamonds simply weigh me down." Mrs. Greer: "*I* have the Hope Diamond!" Virginia Stuart Cunningham: "I have the Hopeless Emerald! It carries the Cunningham curse. You've probably read about it."

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