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The psychological thriller "Gaslight" is frighteningly topical these days

Every time after her husband Gregory has left the house at night to work undisturbed, Paula notices how the lights in the bedroom are dimmed.

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The psychological thriller "Gaslight" is frighteningly topical these days

Every time after her husband Gregory has left the house at night to work undisturbed, Paula notices how the lights in the bedroom are dimmed. Very easy, but not to be overlooked. At first she suspects the maids. But they know nothing. Otherwise nobody is in the house. Is Paula losing her mind?

Set against a claustrophobic backdrop, this scene from George Cukor's 1944 psychological thriller Gaslight shows Gregory plotting to drive his wife Paula insane using perfidious methods. He actually succeeds in turning the cheerful opera singer step by step into a frightened bedridden woman - although she isn't actually wrong.

Considered one of the first cinematic depictions of psychological domestic violence told from a female perspective, the gothic drama is a remake of a lesser-known 1940 film of the same name, based on a play by Patrick Hamilton. The role of the driven housewife brought Ingrid Bergman her first Oscar. The abysses revealed at the end are no longer a shock to the awake viewer, and Paula suspects it too: her own husband is to blame for her doubts about her own perception.

In addition to slightly turning off the gas that gives the film its title "Gaslight", Gregory thinks of all sorts of other mean things: he hides objects, isolates Paula, denies her memory - all the while making her believe that it is her fault or hers want it that way.

But even beyond its aesthetic power, "Gaslight" caused a sensation. The term "gaslighting", derived from the classic, was adopted by psychologists and thus found its way into everyday language: "Gaslighting" today describes the form of verbal attacks often described in toxic love relationships, which discredit the other person through accusations in the sense of: "You make that up on!”, “Calm down”, “You’re overreacting!” or “I never said that”.

In the past few weeks, however, one could observe how one became suspicious of one's own perception, how one encountered the suspicion logic of "gaslighting" in everyday life without a marital war. Has the water in the swimming pool always been this cold? Or was the temperature lowered? Are we freezing because the office isn't heated as much? Or because we are sick? Has the street lamp in front of the kitchen window dimmed overnight? Or are we getting paranoid? In all uncomfortably cold situations we will ask ourselves again: Has the state turned the knob? Or are we now completely wimpy?

Then we should watch the movie "Gaslight" rather than indulge in conspiracies and enjoy the knowledge that there is an explanation for everything. Because, just like in the film, the riddle is solved in reality: If you search a bit on the websites of the indoor swimming pools in Berlin, you will find that the Senate has decided that the swimming pools will be cooled by two degrees. Wetsuits are now allowed.

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