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A couple of days before 1899 Christmas, the Oxford new graduate Dr. Edward Newgate arrives at the Stonehearst Asylum to complete training for his specialty of asylum medicine. He is met by armed men who take him to Dr. Silas Lamb, who welcomes his help and takes him under his wing. Edward is shocked to see the methods that Dr. Lamb uses to run this asylum. He becomes infatuated with Eliza Graves, one of the patients who is a lady of status and does not seem to belong. One night, Edward overhears a knocking from the bowels of the facility and is shocked to find that everything is not as it seems in this place and that his uneasy feelings may be justified. What will Edward Choose?Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Introduces a great debate about the treatment of the mentally ill
The young doctor Newgate, stumbling in from the cold, introduces himself outside the gates of the isolated and ominous towering buildings of the Stonehearst Asylum, eager to observe and learn.
And receives much more than he bargained for.
The good doctor quickly discovers the central secret of Stonehearst early in the plot, and must then painfully confront a complicated question: Are the patients better off at the hands of doctors who are attempting to 'cure' through sadistic means, or would their world be a better place if ruled by one of their own compassionate (and thoroughly mad) unfortunates?
Silas Lamb, the storys' antagonist, is brought to life as only Ben Kingsly can do it. Silas is confident and driven, and has the specter of a man filled with seething anger that rages just under the surface. When he looks at you, you freeze. When he talks, you listen. When he yells, you shake.
The story all by itself would have made an exceptional book. For me, experiencing the same in a movie stunts some of that imagination that can only be provided in print. For a couple examples, I found Dr. Newgates' character annoyingly wimpy. In most scenes, he looks as if he might break down and cry at any moment. Just not quite enough machismo to qualify as the hero with adequate taste.
The sets inside the asylum rubbed me wrong, too. While historically accurate (as far as I know), they are visually over-the-top and a bit cartoonish looking. I got the feeling I was experiencing a multi-million dollar ride at Disney Land, not an actual place as it would genuinely appear and feel with gas-lighting and coal-fired heat in the middle of a brutal winter season.
All in all a good bet, great character developments and a final twist at the end that left me satisfied.
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