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Monday, January 12, 2015

the woman who woke up believing it 1996 & Amnesia in movies......

Amnesia is a pet recurrent theme in Indian movies.  In the Kamal starrer ‘Moondram Pirai’ – Lakshmi (Sridevi) meets with an accident, has severe head injuries – diagnosed with amnesia, fails to recognise her own parents.   In the film Ghajini, Surya develops anterograde amnesia following a violent encounter in which his love interest was killed. He tries to avenge the killing with the aid of Polaroid Instant camera photographs, permanent tattoos on his body and a medical college student. ‘Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom’  (A few pages are missing in between)  featured  Vijay Sethupathi as a youngster who forgets a full year of his life, even as he is about to get married.

In ‘Mozhi’ Jyothika portrayed a powerful character who cannot speak.  Comedian MS Bhaskar in the role of forgetful Professor was shown as forgetting events and living in past.  He would often ask ‘ennathu Gandhiyai suttutungala’ [what they have shot Gandhi ?] … ennathu Indira Gandhi is shot dead ….

Sometime back,  The Hindu quoted Dr Kopelman  citing  research by clinical neuropsychologist Sallie Baxendale  seaking on how films promoted myths about the complex neuro-psychogenic condition of amnesia. Dr. Kopelman pointed out that Baxendale's review of about 300 films, beginning with the silent era that have dealt with amnesia, found that the movies often confused the neurological with the psychological forms of the condition, assumed that focal retrograde amnesia to be the usual pattern, and even ludicrously suggested that the best treatment for memory loss owing to a head injury was another blow to the head. Yes, in most movies, the irreparable loss would be reversed when a similar situation is stimulated ! According to Dr. Kopelman, memory disorders could be categorised as ones with a neurological (or brain) basis and others with a psychological causation, those that are associated with transient memory loss and forms with persistent dysfunction of recall.

Miles away in an instance reported in Daily Mail, Candace Emptage talks about the Spice Girls as if it was only yesterday that they were the biggest girl band on the planet. She is word perfect as she sings the first lines of their 1996 number one hit Wannabe.  Ask her about her daughter Maddie’s childhood, however, and everything is a complete blank. Nothing. She can’t remember a thing, even when photographs charting 13 years of once cherished memories are placed before her. Maddie’s first words, her first birthday, her first steps, her first Christmas, her first day at school — all completely forgotten as if they had never happened — while inconsequential memories of Scary and Posh remain infuriatingly crystal clear.

Candace Emptage, 40, woke up from a coma and believed it was 1996 and that she was still 22. She had forgotten 13 years of her daughter Maddie's life. Brain-injured in a car crash when she was 36, former beauty queen Candace emerged from a six-week coma thinking she was 22 and the Spice Girls still topped the charts. She thought that John Major was still Prime Minister and that Princess Diana and Michael Jackson were still alive. Everything that happened after the Nineties — Tony Blair, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Millennium celebrations — was a void. A decade-and-a-half of life history gone; all memories of her only child swept away.

Candace nearly died in the 2010 accident, after she lost control of her car on a bend on the A694 in Tyne and Wear and careered into the path of an oncoming ambulance.  Cut from the twisted wreckage, she was not expected to last the night and spent six weeks in an induced coma at Newcastle General Hospital after suffering severe head injuries. Her chances, according to her medical team, were just 50/50. Her devastated family were on the point of deciding whether to switch off her life-support machine when they saw Candace run a hand through her hair — her first movement since the crash — and her subsequent recovery has been quite remarkable. Last month, she took the momentous step of meeting members of the fire crew who fought to save her life that night. She wanted to thank them personally, and they, in turn, were amazed to meet the young woman whom none dared to hope would survive.

She’d driven to the station alone — another enormous feat in her climb back to recovery. But, sadly, the memories that were stolen still elude her. Today, she accepts they may never return. It’s hard to imagine the confusion, the sense of loss and loneliness of waking up effectively transported into a body that has aged inexplicably. To realise more than ten years had disappeared, taking with them massive life events of which she had no inkling.

Very strange … but true – Cinema is impacted by real and unreal events – and rarely real life instances do look like occurrences in cinema !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

8th Dec 2014.

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