#314. Stockholm Syndrome

Hollywood has often been accused of glamorizing characters and plots that are downright unrealistic. Often, these characters will act in a way that is seen as completely illogical, often just to get the plot to the climax it needs. Women in romantic comedies can be found in relationships with jerks to highlight the “good guy” difference in the male protagonist. Similarly, some dramas show women in abusive relationships, unable to leave due to their illogical love for the guy. While this latter example is more realistic, it highlights something usually seen in hostage situations: Stockholm syndrome. These survival instincts may be illogical in any normal situation, but in the high-stress and dangerous hostage situation, this coping mechanism helps hostages to survive, even if the effects last long after the incident is over. This week’s two films examine some examples of Stockholm syndrome.

TangledTangled
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Length: 100 minutes / 1.67 hours

“There’s no place like holm . . . Stockholm.” One of the negative aspects of many Disney films is that they are largely based on stories from a much different time. While the stories themselves are usually harmless, there are often boundaries and more adult concepts that need to be discussed with small children. Snow White couldn’t give her consent to being kissed, even if it would break her curse. Ariel’s relationship with Prince Philip couldn’t work because she wasn’t able to communicate, and communication is the key to a good relationship. Aladdin’s relationship with Princess Jasmine was founded on lies, which isn’t a good way to start a relationship. The only reason Rapunzel didn’t escape her captor earlier is that she grew to love her “adopted mother,” even after the verbal abuse Mother Gothel used to keep her trapped in the tower.

For eighteen years, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) has lived in a tower with her “mother” Gothel (Donna Murphy). While Rapunzel understands the intrinsic reason for her solitary confinement is to protect her from the dangerous world outside, she still longs to see the world beyond her window. What she doesn’t know is that Gothel stole her from her birth parents because she possesses a magical power in her hair to heal; a power that Gothel has used for hundreds of years to remain young. When a thief by the name of Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) accidentally finds his way into her tower, Rapunzel sees an opportunity to escape. Unfortunately, now she is torn about going to see the annual lantern lift-off, as it could damage her relationship with Gothel. It’s not until she realizes she’s the missing princess that she breaks the “spell” Gothel had over her and truly tries to escape in earnest.

Dog Day AfternoonDog Day Afternoon
Year: 1975
Rating: R
Length: 125 minutes / 2.08 hours

If Hollywood movies are any indicator, one of the most frequent locations for a hostage situation to take place is in a bank. Bank robberies seem to be common and it’s difficult to do during daylight hours without involving a few innocent civilians. Consequently, if these hostage situations take too long, then Stockholm syndrome has more time to take hold. There are a few thought patterns that can develop into Stockholm syndrome, including the development of positive feelings toward their captor, believing in the humanity of their captor, no previous connection or relationship to their captor, and lack of cooperation with the authorities sent to help them. Any one of these ways of thinking can lead to a false sense of safety in the hands of someone who by all logical indicators is a dangerous individual.

During the dog days of summer, Sonny (Al Pacino), Sal (John Cazale), and Stevie (Gary Springer) head into the First Brooklyn Savings Bank in an attempt to rob the place. Unfortunately, their timing couldn’t have been worse. Not only is there a measly $1,100 left in the vault, but soon the police are alerted of the situation after Stevie runs away. Now Sonny and Sal have decided to sit it out in the bank, along with everyone else who happened to be in there when they started their two-bit scheme. Sonny tries to keep the hostages comfortable, allowing one of them to go when they have an asthma attack. He even goes so far as to request that the police bring in pizzas for the hostages. As the hours tick on by, everyone learns why Sonny needed the money, which helps to humanize his plight. Eventually, both robbers get their demands met and are driven to the airport, where they find one final surprise waiting.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 helpful hostages

Advertisements