Before there was Youtube, before videos were captured instantly on smartphones and posted on social media, there was the story of Christine Chubbuck, a Florida news anchor who killed herself on live television in 1974.
Christine, which stars Rebecca Hall, is based on real-life events. The British actress portrays the 29-year-old journalist as ambitious and dedicated but also lonely and socially awkward.
“There are a lot of films about misfits that present it as quite cool or sort of fetishizes it on some level,” Hall, also known for her work in Iron Man 3, Transcendence and The Gift, told CBC. “I think there are certainly less films with women at the centre, where it actually shows how painful it is to feel that you’re not like everyone else, and the struggle of that.”
Chubbuck, a local Sarasota broadcaster, was trying to fight news media’s inevitable transformation to crime-dominated headlines and struggled to be respected as a woman in a workplace surrounded by men.
She suffered from depression and had few personal relationships. Hall says the filmmaker, Craig Shilowich, related to Chubbuck’s story because of his own issues with mental health and wanted to show what led up to her decision.
“It’s a film that takes a story that we all felt deep sympathy towards and takes it out of the realm of ‘here is a person who did a scary shocking thing’,” said Hall, whose performance has been well-received by critics. “And takes her onto the realm of being a person, a human with struggles and concerns we can all relate to.”
Video of the suicide has never been released, although it was recently discovered that a copy was made by Chubbuck’s station manager. It has been given to lawyers for safekeeping by his widow.