Last year we went back into the editing bay together with film editor Austin Nordell, sound designer Jonathan Coomes and special effects artist Lucia Scianetti, to create an entirely new version of our 2016 literary low budget short film “The Rest Cure”. It has been released today as the official 2022 “Final Cut” version, intended for film festival release.
”The Rest Cure” is a screen adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s famous novel “The Yellow Wallpaper”, first published in 1892. It tells the story of Alice, a housewife and new mother suffering from post-natal depression who is taken to a rented summer country estate by her husband John, a physician, where he instructs her to undergo “the rest cure” in order to treat her “nervous condition”.
Alice (Anna Brochmann) examines the Yellow Wallpaper for the first time after arriving at the summer house.
Developed by famed neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell (1829 – 1914), “the rest cure” was considered to be the best treatment for women suffering from depression and nervous behavior. In order to restore physical and mental health, the patients would be confined to a specific room for two to three months during which they would not be allowed to leave their bed, or even move much unless instructed.
The treatment involved the near-total elimination of all stimuli, including interacting with people, reading, writing, and even seeing their own child. Patients would receive daily massages to stimulate blood flow, as well as an extremely heavy diet to help them gain weight.
As Alice is cut off from most human contact, she begins hallucinating and losing her mind, thinking she is seeing the figure of a woman in the yellow wallpaper of her bedroom.
Alice is confined in an upper room of the house—a room that was once a nursery and thus has barred windows.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935).
Source: Branch open access publication
Weir Mitchell (1829-1914).
Source: Branch open access publication
Alice starts to obsess about the wallpaper. Finding it both appalling and mesmerizing, she spends hours looking at it every day, tracking it with her eyes and trying to follow the pattern to its stopping point.
The screen adaptation for the short film was accomplished by writer C. Henietta Jones, who produced the film and invited director Andreas Graf to direct it after they had met at the London Screenwriters’ Festival in 2016.
The film was filmed in London on a very tight budget and under adventurous circumstances. The main shooting location had been cancelled last minute, and the crew had to use all of its creativity to find alternative solutions, eventually filming large parts of the film on the campus of Regent’s University in an office that had been emptied for renovation.
In order to accomplish the film, director Andreas Graf acquired a license and filming insurance several months later to film additional exterior shots on the property of the Boston Manor House, and a cameraman spent one afternoon in front of the house, waiting for the best light conditions to catch exterior shots.
Later in post production, some of the shots were used as day-for-night, and visual effects were applied to lighten up one of the windows with flickering light, as if coming from candle light.
The Boston Manor House outside of London, where the exterior shots of the summer house were taken.
John (Malcolm Jeffries) is closely monitoring his wife’s sleeping patterns. A terrible aspect of “the rest cure” was that patients would sometimes be force fed if they refused the strenuous diet.
Due to the loss of the original filming location, the new film set had to be furnished from scratch last minute, which provided several new challenges. For example, the bed in Alice’s bedroom, which had been ordered from a furniture store and would serve as one of the film’s important props, was not delivered as announced in time, and the crew had to change filming schedules last minute which turned out to be nearly impossible because of conflicting timetables.
An other major worry was created by the wallpaper, the production’s most important film prop. It had to be newly created as well, and it was much of the crew’s concern that the only paper available lacked the patina and texture to give it an “old” and authentic feel.
As there was not enough wallpaper to decorate the whole room, and as the paper didn’t stretch all the way to the ceiling, director Andreas Graf and cameraman Mircea Ioan Lupescu had to constantly adapt their shot list and shooting angles, trying to avoid the blank spaces as much as possible.
For the new version of the film, which involves a completely new cut, visual effects were used to create cracks running though the wallpaper and artificial dust while Alice tears down the wallpaper in a desperate attempt to free the woman she is seeing trapped behind.
John (Malcolm Jeffries) and Alice (Anna Brochmann)
The film music was recorded at the Mazzive Sound Studio in Switzerland. From left: Niklaus Vogel (composer), Michaela Paetsch (violin), Rebecca Aeschbach (violin), Franziska Grütter (viola), Andreas Graf (cello).
The original film music was composed by Niklaus Vogel and recorded at Mazzive Sound studios in Switzerland, using a string quartet line-up that was complemented with additional instruments generated and mixed together from sound libraries.
For a scene where Alice is hearing her baby cry, but is not allowed to see it, director Andreas Graf asked film composer Niklaus Vogel to weave in a musical theme from Robert Schumann’s piano music “Kinderszenen” (“Scenes from Childhood”) op. 15.
For the new edition of the film, the film music has been adapted, by transforming some of the original material, in order to create a more somber feel.
May this new version of “The Rest Cure” provide an insight to audiences into the horrors of a medical treatment considered helpful at the time, and the tragic fate of countless patients who underwent it. A treatment that rooted in an ultra-partiarchal society and will hopefully be banned forever.
Part of the crew, together with the cast. From left: Andreas Graf, Anna Brochmann, Becks Rosen, Malcolm Jeffries, C. Henrietta Jones, Joseline Likandja Etiele, Shoko Koja, Mircea Ioan Lupescu
Synopsis: When Alice is taken to an isolated country estate by her husband John in order to treat her nervous condition, she becomes increasingly obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom.
Running time: 18 minutes
Cast: Anna Brochmann, Malcolm Jeffries, Becks Rosen
Produced by: C. Henrietta Jones
Directed by: Andreas Graf
Screenplay adaptation: C. Henrietta Jones
C. Henrietta Jones, Andecillo Films, Epic Lab Films, 2022. All rights reserved.
Watch the official film trailer of The Rest Cure (Final Cut), 2022: