While looking through the archive reminiscing to myself as I perused, I saw this She's Been Away.
THAT now, I do remember and remember quite well. It is the story of female non-conformity, the severe price of female non-conformity as well as the severe price OF female conformity. I was moved to tears watching this in 1989 as I was yesterday watching it again.
The film centers first and Lilian, then Harriet and then draws parallels between the lives of both women, despite their seeming differences-one locked in a mental institution for 60 years and the other locked into a patriarchal society approved marriage. The institution Lilian has been confined to is being torn down -(Reagan/Thatcher era when state mental institutions were demolished, while its former inhabitants were free to a good home or the nearest street). Lilian is taken in by a distant great nephew and his wife and young son. The family is told Lilian doesnt talk, only stares out a window, "she'll be no trouble."
Once home, both women begin to SEE each other and we begin to see Lilian through snippets, as she remembers her past. We see a carefree girl, powerful, passionate and full of feeling, we see her try to communicate herself to her family to the point of anger. All failing and falling on deaf ears till she is forcibly removed to a mental asylum, where she will remain for 60 years. We see clips of her struggle in the asylum to retain her passion, her humanity only to be punished for it with electro shock. She briefly speaks of other tortures to Harriet and of slowly losing herself day after day till she woke up an old woman, worried she is now too old to start again. But despite the high price Lilian paid for being herself at all cost, Harriet admires and envies it. Harriet says she was always too afraid.
But as the film goes on Harriet, inspired by Lilian, finds the courage and she and Lilian run away; from Harriet's husband, her small but too logical son, from society and from female convention altogether.
A few review quotes: