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I saw this film once late at night (or early in the morning) on
when I was in High School. One thing that struck me about this film that
different to so many others was its ability to captivate me even at that
hour, which is generally the type of braindead time usually reserved only
for the watching of 'Beavis and Butthead Do America' or 'Dude Where's My
Car?'. The fact that at two in the morning ANY film could have a riveting
story line absolutely amazed me.
While 'The Search for Bridey Murphy' is largely a fantasy, it is a very interesting one and the end leaves you wanting more. I urge anybody and everybody to search for 'The Search for Bridey Murphy' at all their local video stores. It is definitely worth a watch.
This film is modestly budgeted, and was no doubt hastily made. But it is nonetheless a fascinating cultural artifact, a portrait of a time when the idea of reincarnation was a radical concept in America. The director had a genuine interest in the subject, and the always appealing Teresa Wright does a lovely job dancing the "Morning Jig." In many ways, this film is a lot more forthright and a lot less hokey than "The Three Faces of Eve," which would make an interesting pairing with "Bridey" on a double bill. I have to give it an unweighted 8, and pray that Shirley MacLaine never decides to remake it.
Even though the movie "The search for Bridey Murphy" has been noted
back in the 1950's and up to now to be a story about reincarnation and
if it is or is not a fact the film is really about hypnotism and
Mostly the movie is about a Pueblo Colorado housewife Ruth Simmons, Teresa White, being regressed in time by hypnotist Morey Bernstein, Louis Hayward. At first to where Ruth was a little girl to where she's regressed back to the life that she lead before she was born as Ruth Simmons in 1923 as a Irish Protestant woman named Bridey Murphy who lived from 1798 to 1864 in Cork County and later, when she was married, in Belfast Ireland.
The film makers didn't really seem to know how to handle the story and in the end opted out for the use of hypnosis in curing illnesses that are beyond the reach of modern medicine and seemed to have completely forgot about the facts or follies of reincarnation. It seems to me that the subject was a little too hot for those who made the movie to handle at that time and dropped it altogether by the end of the film.
What really frustrated me about "The search for Bridey Murphy" was that the film had Morey Bernstein get information out of Ruth Simmons while she was under hypnosis about her life back in Ireland in the 19th century. This was to see if she was truthful about what she told him since there was no why she could have known about her life as Bridey Murphy back then unless what she said was true. Still we never knew if any of that information that he got from Ruth ever checked out or not thus proving or disproving, at least in the movie, if reincarnation is a reality or just another old wives tale.
Another thing that the film "The search for Bridey Murphy" did was introduce many people to the life and works of the late "Sleeping Prophet" Edgar Cayce. Cayce was noted for his belief in reincarnation and was said to have cured, by putting himself under hypnosis, over 2,000 people by finding out what was ailing them through the illnesses that they had in their past lives. Which Cayce in his sleeping state could interpret.
Still the movie is interesting and with hundreds of books written about past-life regression and reincarnation over the last fifty or so years since the movie and book "The search for Bridey Murphy" was released. Which shows that the subject of re-birth is more then ever on the minds of millions of people here in the US and in Europe. As well as in the Orient India and many other cultures in the world where it's, reincarnation, considered by many millions of people to be an irrefutable fact of life as well as death.
The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956)
This isn't quite a normal narrative movie but a re-enactment of some true events surrounding hypnosis and supposed past life regression. And it's quite fascinating on some level, for the facts and the possibilities, and it's quite dull on another level, filled with narration and some repetitive scenes and a slow pace. In fact, as good as it is in some ways, it might have made a brilliant half hour short.
Not to take away from the singular performance of Teresa Wright. She's the subject and object all at once, and she makes a lot out of nothing (lying down on the couch most of the time). She makes the subtleties of "reading" have meaning, with slight differences of accent, and a tone of voice that is really convincing. The rest of the cast? Serviceable. There wasn't a huge effort put into making this movie, or making it interesting.
The one inventive aspect is some slightly cheesy cloudy scenes that are meant to be transporting the viewer through the subject's thoughts. It works fine. When it gets to the cosmos (stars), you do wish there had been some attempt to keep up with the audience. It's a congenial movie, and everyone has a terrific upper middle class attitude, which is pleasant.
Some research after the book was published and after the movie as well, has shown some problems with the facts, and some alternate reasons why the subject would be able to invent (or recall) in great detail (including the dance). A better movie might have layered some of the doubts into the apparent wonder and marvel of the actual hypnotic events.
So, actually, this isn't really recommended as a movie experience, but as a way to learn about the subject. It's certainly clear and plain speaking.
At the time of release of this film from the book, The Search for
Bridey Murphy (1956), the concept of reincarnation was virtually
unknown to the masses in the Western World. Today, some 56 years later,
it has become fact to many scholars and researchers in this part of the
world. Internationally known physicians, specializing in psychiatry,
now spend their lives in its research and work in its further
exploration. The real miracle of this little, low budget film is that
it was made at all at a time of fear and ignorance of one of the basic
keystones of ontology.
The book itself is rather shallow as the film but this is probably due to the lack of comprehension of not just the subject of reincarnation but hypnosis itself, which was then not a widely practiced form of psychotherapy. At that time, religionists and their authoritarian scripture heavily controlled the subject of human consciousness much as it is in the Middle East today.
At this writing, schools teach self-hypnosis. It is understood to be a method of focusing and nothing fearful, reprehensible or a dangerous practice of some mysterious Rasputin. In addition, it is known that regression itself is a simple guided focusing and not some bizarre scheme of being controlled by someone else. No one can control anyone else through hypnosis. They can only suggest and persuade. It is up to the subject to accept or reject the persuasion.
Edgar Cayce, who is briefly mentioned in this film, is now honored for his life's work and anyone can join the internationally important Association of Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach, Virginia to study his life and work as well as research into consciousness.
The movie barely introduces the subject but it does so in a very believable way and with a lot of courage.
Today this would be an episode of one of those cable docs on the
It is introduced, Twilight Zone-style, by the actor playing the hypnotist,
Morey Bernstein. He steps into the first scene and the story begins.
Ruth Simmons is a friend of Morey and his wife whom Morey hypnotizes one night at a party. He is a self-taught hypnotist, having witnessed a demonstration at another party years earlier. Ruth reveals (after much prodding) that she is a reincarnation of Bridey Murphy, a 19th century Irishwoman. Very few, almost none, of the "facts" she reveals can be verified, a fact which the movie conveniently overlooks. The whole scenario was subsequently debunked by articles in major newspapers and magazines and by various authorities in the scientific establishment.
The movie, however, is an enjoyable fantasy, just don't take it as literal truth unless you are a follower of Ramtha or believe in Shirley MacLaine as some sort of spiritual pioneer.
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