6.8/10
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Changing Our Minds: The Story of Dr. Evelyn Hooker (1992)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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gay/straight alliance in action
9 January 2002 | by (Brisbane, Australia) – See all my reviews

This is simply one of the most empowering and informative pieces of documentary entertainment ever made about the nature and the modern western history of homosexuality.

Patrick Stewart's narration is compassionate, joyful and sincere. The narrative guides us from the establishment of institutionalised homophobic oppression in the early 20th century (with archival footage of electroconvulsive therapy and blackmail threats to college students) to the early 1990's when we started to achieve widespread recognition that it really is OK to be gay. This film shows that a key figure in that progression was Dr Evelyn Hooker.

The audience develops a strong empathy for Dr Evelyn Hooker as she takes up the challenge of her brightest pupil to prove to herself whether homosexuality should clinically be considered an illness. Evelyn is warm, humourous and wonderfully philosophical. She diligently prepares her research so that no one could ever contest its scientific value and then she invites the most eminent professionals of the time to evaluate her data.

Evelyn tells, with relish, of the shock with which the results were received. Many of her psychiatric colleagues simply did not want to believe that they had been misdiagnosing and therefore mistreating their clients.

I have loved watching Changing Our Minds several times. My favourite part is the closing scene in which she is invited in her late eighties to receive an award in acknowledgement of her groundbreaking work which has been the conerstone of gay and lesbian acceptance. She tells the audience of an early experience with love and loss and urges them to go out and take risks and to learn to enjoy loving lives.

This documentary is extremely valuable for recording Dr Hooker's wit, passion and wisdom as a younger and older woman. Everything about the work speaks of the film-makers determination to present the truth in the most positive and life affirming way.


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