Who's insane?

I was curious-

Who in this film is insane and who isn't?

OK, I admit I haven't seen this because I can't find it anywhere, but I know there is a mental institution. And I sort of sort of (there are supposed to be 2 of those) understand the plot...

You can just say who isn't cos I can tell by whoever is left that they are...

My life depends on Lay's Sour Cream and Onion Chips, Dr. Pepper, and Tim Curry.


It's obvious yuve never seen Gabby Hayes.

Nothing exists more beautifully than nothing.


It wouldn't be fair to tell you when you haven't seen it. Then again, it's not clear who, if anyone, is insane and I've actually watched it.


Okay, I've seen it now.... the only person who I'm almost entirely sure isn't insane is Robert Graves. Yay.

At least it's fair to explain to me now... please? *begs*


No!....I think youre not ready to know yet.... You should get out at full moon and hold some dead animal over your head and shout "GgRRRRRRAAAAAAAAhhhhhHHHHmmmmmMMMMMNNNNNnnnnn!" to gain awareness.
Come back here when you did that.


this movie is great, my family threat [we threaten eachother] is "don't make me use the shout!"


The short story- which is very like the film- is in Robert Graves's Collected Short Stories. As it was inspired by Graves's own post WWI shellshock-inspired neurasthenia and his complex relationships with his wife and Laura Riding and his boyhood homosexual experiences the question of who is insane is even more complex: in the film it is Crossley telling the story, in the story it is Graves telling the story he says Crossley told- a further remove of unreliability in the narration.


I've never read the short story, but I think at least in the context of the movie, Crossley is insane. He's in a mental institution, with Anthony and Rachel. Now, I get the impression that Rachel is a nurse in the hospital. We're never told if Anthony is a patient, a staff member or someone from the village who is playing in the game (doesn't the head doctor say something about the villagers not providing enough players for the game?).

Hence, his delusion incorporates faces from his surroundings, which is why Anthony and Rachel appear in the story that he tells Tim Curry's character. I think nearly everything in the film outside of the cricket game itself is a product of Crossley's imagination. He doesn't have the power to kill with his voice, and he can't cast spells on people, etc.

I think the only part of the story that's actually true, as such, is the bit about him murdering his children, which is why he's in the mental hospital in the first place.

The one thing I can't suss out is why does Rachel rush in to see Crossley's body. It's almost as if she really had some kind of relationship with Crossley. I figure either she just became attached to him. It's not uncommon for medical professionals to become attached to some of their patients.

The other possibility I've come up with is that she was actually married to Crossley, not Anthony. She's the mother of the children that Crossley murdered. In fact, perhaps Crossley went on the run after the murders, and came back to find his wife married to another man.

So why is Rachel at the mental hospital as a nurse? Perhaps she took a job there to be close to Crossley, who she is still in love with. There's this weird thing with people sometimes, that nobody what heinous act a person's lover has committed, the other person remains "in love" and is him or herself under the delusion that one can "fix" the person.

I dunno, I only just watched the movie a couple days ago. I saw it once about 10 years ago, so I'm still working on my thoughts about what's supposed to be happening here.


An interesting, deliberately ambiguous film. Your speculations may be correct, but many other interpretations are possible. I would point out that when Crossley/Bates began telling his story, he made some mention of telling it differently, (different order did he say?)each time. It is possible that Rachel and Anthony were employees at the asylum, and he based his characters on them.

Even Rachel's entrance after the lightening strike is ambiguous. She lifts the sheets on the other two victims first, all in the order of nearest to the door. This is just as she, a nurse, would have done, even if Crossley meant nothing to her. And yet, the scene could easily be interpreted to mean she was looking for him specifically.


And isn't it odd that Crossley tells a story from Anthony's perspective? Maybe he was married to Rachel and someone else took her away from him...

Dear Mom, I put a couple of people in Hell today...


Also telling, perhaps, is the police showing up at the cottage to arrest Crossley - it's never clear why they are chasing him. In the scuffle he is heard to shout: 'you bloody fools, i'll shout you to death!' - but he still ends up in the insane asylum. A man with the power to kill using his voice would have evaded capture.

I like that analysis: he did murder his children, that's why he's in hospital.



There are two scenes, though, that are not within Crossley's story: first, is the opening scene (obviously): Crossley riding to the asylum on a motorbike, passing Anthony and Rachel in their car. If Crossley is an inmate, why is he travelling to the asylum? Also, relations between the married couple seem somewhat strained, in their dialogue. The other scene is at the end, when the scoring hut is destroyed, killing Crossley and the warden. Is it his shout that blows it up, or is it hit by lightning? When he attempts the shout in the hut, it sounds very different- much weaker- to the way it does in his story, suggesting that he cannot actually do it. However, when Graves (and the audience) sees the body of the warden, he is clutching his ears, and locked in the rictus of a scream. So was it real or not?


The sound of thunder could have ruptured the eardrums causing the bleeding.


Charles Crossing is not insane.

He is Laura Riding, whom Robert Graves (the real-life writer who wrote The Shout), was having a long-term affair with, an affair that had a predictably destructive impact on Graves' first marriage.

Graves braided a personal story with supernatural elements for effect, but beneath the supernatural was a story of unhappily married people yearning to break free of marriage, and for Laura, to break free of life (she attempted suicide during their affair, which caused the dissolution of Graves' first marriage), nothing more, nothing less, and the terror shout was exactly what it was - a shout to exorcise one's unhappiness, one's demons, one's pent-up emotions, etc.

The insane asylum - once upon a time, during Graves' lifetime, it was easier to label someone insane who wanted to escape marriage or commit suicide. Now these feelings are discussed, they're not dismissed as insane.

In the novella and film, Charles said he lived in the Australian outback for 18 years, food was hard to find, and one year there was no rain until a magician cut himself open and pushed his fingers into his body and ripped his flesh out, and it finally rained. A metaphor for the state of his marriage - a dry wasteland of a marriage, he was starving to death emotionally/spiritually, he was so emotionally/spiritually thirsty he described his thirst as a year without rain, and he was proverbially tearing his flesh apart until he murdered his children to escape his marriage. Then he encountered Anthony and Rachel, a couple whose marriage long ago fell apart but who kept playing the marriage game because they did not know what else to do. They had not yet reached the "destroy this marriage now, no matter the cost" stage Charles reached, but Charles' suicidal presence began that process.

Anyway, that is food for thought, based on the real life of Robert Graves.


The movie if full of ambiguities and symbolism and I thought the wrap around setting of the mental institution grounds was very interesting. It's obviously supposed to be a private healthcare facility for the posh and that also led to alot of uncertainty to the background of the main character(s). Maybe Crossley really wasn't a travelling anthropologist but just a common upperclass nut.