Born Innocent (1974)
Victim of the System
With a mother who did nothing and a father who beat her it is little wonder than 14 year old Christine Parker (Linda Blair) frequently ran away from home and often ending up in trouble when the law caught up to her. After her latest run in with the law Christine is sent to a girls' juvenile detention centre/ reform school for troublemakers even though her troubles stem from her parents. With only one teacher seeing that Christine is how she is because of her home she stands little hope especially when she suffers horrendous treatment at the hands of the other girls as they attack and violate her in the shower room. It is little wonder that the innocent 14 year old Christine is forced to turn tough in order to survive.
Those who frequent The Movie Scene will know I am a fan of TV movies and have watched them from 70s TV movies right through to the 21st century ones. The difference between the TV movies of the 70s and those now is huge and modern TV movies are weak in comparison with far too much emphasis on look over story, characters and drama. You just need to watch the gritty "Born Innocent" to realise how far down hill TV movies have fallen and why they are now frequently mocked.
Now "Born Innocent" is notorious for its controversy and that controversy is two fold. For those who know the movie I just need to say broomstick scene and they will know exactly what I am on about. But for those who haven't there is a scene which suggests that Christine is attacked by the other girls in the reform school, stripped naked, pinned down and sexually violated with a broom handle. It isn't graphic but unsettling and important as it makes it very clear that in order for Christine to survive she had to toughen up.
The other controversy is what it suggests about the system and how innocent girls can end up victims of it, turned into violent thugs because no one will listen to them. In this case we have the sad fact that the system didn't care to try and find out what caused Christine to run away from home they only seeing her as trouble to be put in with all the other troublemakers. It is amazing when you consider that "Born Innocent" is now 40 years old yet the power of the statement it makes without being preachy is still exceptionally strong although for some it will be slow going.
What is also strong about "Born Innocent" is the performance of the then 15 year old Linda Blair who takes us on a journey from being an innocent victim of her family and the system to one who is what she is because of the system. In the scene where we see Christine forced to strip and be searched by the head of the reform school it is so powerful because of the sense of fear and confusion which Linda Blair brings to her character, you immediately feel for this young girl.
What this all boils down to is that "Born Innocent" is now quite a familiar movie with its look at young girls who are victims of a system but it is still an extremely powerful one with Linda Blair excelling in a tough role.
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