Gaslighting Examples in Movies

Gaslighting has been one of the favorite issues in horror and thriller films in Hollywood. You find people making all the efforts to convince others that they are crazy and what they are experiencing isn’t real.

Furthermore, you also find men and women suffering to maintain their identity amidst gaslighting. They are manipulated to believe that they are insane.

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There are a number of movies that use Gaslighting as the base for the story. The following is the list of gaslighting examples in movies for you to get a better understanding of how gaslighting works.

1. Gaslight (1944)

As mentioned earlier, Patrick Hamilton gave the word Gaslight in his play Gaslight in 1938. This play was adapted in the movie Gaslight released in 1944. 

The movie is about Paula, a woman who is made to believe by his husband Gregory that she is going insane.

Thus, Paula finds herself losing objects valuable to her, hearing and seeing things that do not exist. Further, she also thinks that the lights are flickering when Gregory claims they are actually not.

Therefore, Gregory convinces Paula that she is imagining things, losing it, and blames her of Kleptomania. It is actually Gregory who is making all the effort to manipulate Paula.

He does this so that he can get the power of attorney and can inspect the house for valuable jewels. 

Towards the end, Paula is able to come out of the clutches of Gregory. However, the story about Gregory challenging Paula’s sense of reality is intimidating.

2. Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

This is the story about Catherine Holly. She is a young woman who is kept in an institution as she is going through a serious emotional disturbance. 

This is due to her cousin Sebastian Venable. He died under unusual circumstances while they were on a summer holiday in Europe.

Sebastian’s rich mother Mrs. Venable makes every effort to suppress the truth about her son’s death. She tried to bribe Doctor Lawrence. Thus, she asked the Doctor to fund a new wing for the unfunded facility. Provided Doctor Lawrence forced the outstanding young surgeon Doctor John to conduct a Lobotomy on her niece Katherine. 

This way Katherine would not be able to reveal any event that relates to her son’s death. Mrs Venable meets Doctor Lawrence and discusses her niece’s cae with him. He then visits Katherine and begins his evaluation.

On her meeting with the Doctor, Katherine struggles as she recalls certain events that resulted in Sebastian’s death and her emotional imbalance thereafter. 

Doctor Lawrence convinces Mrs. Venable to confront Katherine face to face in his attempt to save Katherine against Mrs. Venable’s malintent.

Thus, Katherine is able to make Aunt Venable disclose the kind of relationship she had with Sebastian. Further, she also convinces her Aunt to explain why she chose her to go on a trip with Sebastian in place of herself. 

Therefore, towards the end, Doctor Lawrence is able to get the truth out by giving a drug to Katherine. Katherine discloses that Sebastian used her to attract young men in order to seduce them. She also explains that Sebastian fell prey to a group of boys who begged for money from him. 

3. The Changeling (2008)

This is the story of a single mother Christine Collins depicted in the Los Angeles of 1928. Christine returns home and finds her 9-year-old son Walter to be missing.

The Radio Evangelist Gustav publicizes Christine’s suffering and questions Los Angeles Police Department for its corruption and incompetence.

Months after Walter’s disappearance, the Police tells Christine that Walter has been found alive. They organize a public reunion of mother and son. This is because the Police is of the view that positive publicity will nullify the recent criticism against the department.

As she is united with his son Walter, Christine claims that the boy is not his son. Further, Captain Jones, Head of the Department Juvenile Division, forces Katherine that the boy is Walter. Further, Jones also pressurizes Katherine to take the boy home.

Christine then confronts Jones again. She realizes that there are physical differences between this Walter and her son.

On hearing this, Captain Jones arranges Christine’s meeting with a Doctor. The Doctor too forces her to believe that the boy is her son Walter. And in order to prove this, the Doctor gives Christine evidence.

Thus, Christine is declared as an unfit mother. However, Gustav makes Christine realize that everything is being done by the Police to discredit her.

She is sent to Los Angeles County Hospital Psychopathic Ward. Thus, the events unfold in a way that Christine finds that his son along with 20 other children were kidnapped and murdered.

Furthermore, she realized that the Police along with the people of authority were involved in this. Thus, the culprits are punished and Christine continues her search for her son. 

This is so because, in 1935, one of the boys who was assumed to be killed was found alive. He discloses that he was in prison with Walter. Furthermore, he reveals that he escaped with Walter and another boy. But eventually, they were separated. 

4. Hot Fuzz (2007)

Gloucestershire is a small rural town of Sandford. And to work here as a police officer is nothing less than punishment for Nicholas Angel. There is nothing exciting that takes place in this city.

An individual wearing cloak murders two men using an axe. However, both the murders are disguised as a car accident.

However, Nicholas Angel is able to sense that this may not be an accident. Similarly, a series of murders take place each done by a cloaked figure. 

Further, a journalist gives Angel information of a conspiracy that is about a take place . The journalist dies in an accident. 

Thus, It seems as if there is no crime in the city because the events are staged as accidents when they are actually murders.

Hence, Angel makes an effort to investigate the murders in question. But, all his suspicions are outrightly ignored.

Eventually, it comes to the forefront that a small cult like group of people control the town. These people are dressed in black hooded robes. They rule over Gloucestershire through their power, local contacts, and their ability to be at multiple places all at the same time. 

Basically, they are ruling over Gloucestershire in a strict and ruling way. Accordingly, whosoever seems suspicious is either killed or convinced via other means.

5. Matilda (1996)

This movie is based on Roald Dahl’s novel ‘Matilda’. Matilda is a mature and a genius young girl born in the family of Oafish Swindlers.

She finds a kind and loving mentor in Miss Honey at school. Miss Honey herself has a broken family. As Matilda grows older, her self-confidence increases.  Along with this, there was with an increase in her unruly nature towards people who misuse their power and authority.

Matilda’s parents are unpleasant and extremely brutal. However, the most rude person in her life is Miss Trunch Bull. She is Matilda’s headmaster. 

Miss Trunch Bull believes in capital punishment and runs the school in a strict and cruel way. However, it later turns out that Miss Trunch Bull is the aunt of Miss Honey.

Matilda is extremely intelligent. So much so that she has tele-kinetic powers. This means Matilda can move objects. She can even change their shape using only the power of mind.

This is enough to instill fear in and terrify the cruel headmaster Miss Trunch Bull. Matilda’s tele-kinetic powers are sufficient to drive Miss Trunch Bull insane.

However, Matilda goes a level higher. Miss Trunch Bull killed her brother-in-law. Matilda  uses her powers to make Miss Trunch Bull believe her brother-in-law’s ghost is stalking her. Further, she made Miss Bull believe that the Ghost is accusing Mill Bull for murdering him.

Miss Trunch Bull attacks the students, but Matilda saves them. Further, she forces Miss Trunch Bull out of the school. That’s how a young girl uses gaslighting against people in power. 

Also Read:

Gaslighting in Movies

Examples of gaslighting in relationships

Examples of Gaslighting At Work

Gaslighting Examples: In Parents, BPD, Narcissist & Unconscious

Examples of Gaslighting in Friendship

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