“Christine” focuses on one of the most obscure and interesting media cases that I’ve ever obsessed over. Christine Chubbuck was what one would call an old maid back in the mid 1970s. But, why did this case matter? Shortly after Christine Chubbuck killed herself on camera, Paddy Chayefsky was inspired to write “Network”. News media hounds and other gore junkies would spend decades trying to find the last surviving tape of Chubbuck’s on-air suicide. The official word is that local officials agreed with Chubbuck’s station and family to destroy the masters.
While given the lack of home recording media in that era, that should’ve been the end of it. That being said, it’s funny what 42 years can do to a case like this. Chubbuck’s family started opening up about what happened in the late 00s. Christine’s news script for her suicide and the path leading to the suicide started to unfold. All the while, the curious finds a pattern that would be easier to detect now. Christine Chubbuck was an isolated intellectual who didn’t know how to form lasting connections.
She pined for involved men and envied her friends that were able to move past a work-a-day life. Christine would try to connect with children and advance her career, but she couldn’t escape the inner sadness related to not having a traditional purpose. Had Christine been born a little later, she would’ve developed the confidence to move past these fears. What the film achieves is the crushing fear of a person seeing all doors close around them. That sense of terror and the creeping panic of a life unfulfilled has been rarely captured onscreen.
While “Christine” and “Kate Plays Christine” hit theaters around the same time, they lack the same impact of the clip that audiences will never see. I hope that one day the original footage is recovered. Yes, it’s grim. However, people need to see the finality of inner grief and depression.
- 1 hr and 59 mins
- The Orchard