Stonehearst Asylum Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

“No one is what they seem”: the essence of the film Stonehearst Asylum (2014): plot summary, meaning of the film, explanation of the ending, similar films.

Genre: thriller, drama

Year of production: 2014

Director: Brad Anderson

Actors: Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley, David Thewlis

tagline: “No one is what they seem”

According to the director, Brad Anderson, he loves the works of Edgar Allan Poe from his youth. The plot of the film Stonehearst Asylum, based on the stories of the classic American romanticism, does not shine with originality and has no hidden meaning. At the same time, it is very relevant, because it touches on the important topic of humanity. But to a greater extent, this picture tells that each person is unique and any generalization can be erroneous.

What is the movie about

Brief description of the content of the film Stonehearst Asylum. 1899 At a lecture at the University of Oxford, students are told about the behavior of people with a sick psyche. The object of the study is the wife of the English baronet Eliza Graves. A beautiful young woman suffers from hysteria and claims to be completely healthy.

Kate BeckinsaleKate Beckinsale as Eliza Graves, Jim Sturgess as Edward Newgate. Frame from the film.

Six months later, on Christmas Eve, a young doctor named Edward Newgate arrives in England and visits the Stonehurst Psychiatric Hospital where representatives of the rich and influential families of the country are being treated.

Meeting with the director of the hospital, Silas Lamb, Newgate claims to be an Oxford graduate. He invites the young man to make a detour together. In the process of going around, he sees the beautiful Eliza Graves.

While watching Dr. Lamb, Newgate is amazed at his methods of treatment. Patients are not “tortured” here and they are allowed to do whatever they want. Moreover, they are allowed to be present at the Christmas table. At dinner, Newgate involuntarily draws attention to the local huntsman Mickey Finn – he behaves, if not defiantly, then rather strangely.

The young doctor is not surprised for long by everything that happens: in the end, he finds out that in fact the hospital is run by patients, and the staff is imprisoned in the basement of the building.

The real head physician is named Benjamin Salt. He claims that Lamb is a former military doctor who once killed five soldiers. Finn is a dangerous criminal who has the blood of his mother and sister on his hands. Together they drugged the hospital staff and started a riot. Dr. Salt asks a colleague to quickly tell the authorities about everything that happened or somehow release them all from captivity – otherwise they will die.

Michael CaineMichael Caine played the role of Dr. Benjamin Salt. Frame from the film.

The young doctor, who has taken a liking to Eliza, tries to persuade her to leave with him. The woman refuses and reports the conversation to Lamb. Since then, he, along with Finn, have established surveillance for the new doctor.

Newgate is trying to help the “arrested” and, in order to win him over even more, Dr. Salt advises him to read the case histories of the madmen who have seized power in the hospital. They, according to him, are in a wine cabinet located in his former office.

Lamb, meanwhile, brings the doctor to the violent ward and asks him to help him bandage the hand of the weak-minded strong man Arthur Timbs, who, because of his power and ferocity, everyone calls the “Oxford Ogre”. Seeing the stranger, Arthur hits him hard on the shoulder, but Newgate remains calm and friendly. The strongman involuntarily imbued with sympathy for the young doctor.

Newgate again tries to talk to Eliza, and a little later he manages to get a folder with medical records. He also manages to unwittingly overhear the conversation between Lamb and Finn. From it, he learns that Mickey is concerned about his behavior. Moreover, it turns out that closer to spring, many people will come to the hospital and in any case they will not be able to continue the game. The doctor is struck by Lamb’s answer: to all Finn’s fears, he says that the imprisoned hospital staff will not live until spring, the new doctor is too passionate about Eliza Graves, and she is in no hurry to return to her husband.

Ben KingsleyThe role of Silas Lamb was played by Ben Kingsley. Frame from the film.

Suddenly, an alarm goes off in the hospital. It turns out that two prisoners managed to escape. Finn catches up with the fugitives at the cliff and stabs one of them. The second, realizing that resistance does not make sense, throws himself off a cliff. Lamb tries to present everything that happened as an accident, but Newgate, who was present, disagrees, and the “colleagues” quarrel.

A little later, the young man manages to get the records from which he learns the backstory. It turns out that by the time Lamb arrived at the hospital, patients were treated “the old fashioned way”, stuffing them with drugs and using terrible “tortures”.

Salt was sure that the source of every patient’s madness could only be found and destroyed after their main fears were discovered. Lamb was the only one not affected by this method. Having seized the moment, he decided to deal with his tormentor … After a while, in front of the helpless Newgate, he conducts “electroshock therapy” for him, which practically destroys the personality of the former head physician.

Closer to the finale, it turns out that Newgate has been in love with Eliza since the Oxford lecture, and since the same time he has been haunted by the idea of ​​getting her out of the hospital. Catharsis happens at the time of the celebration of the New Year. Newgate tries to stage a coup and free the prisoners, but is defeated. Between him and Finn, a fight begins, from which, thanks to the timely help of “Ogre” Arthur, he emerges victorious.

Finn dies in a fight, and a fire starts in the hospital. After asking Eliza to release the prisoners, Newgate goes in search of Lamb. He finds him, out of touch with reality and completely lost in memories of the war and his crime, in the riot ward. Fell into catatonia “colleague” Newgate pulls out of the hospital engulfed in flames.

Stonehearst Asylum Ending explanation

Explanation of the ending of the film “Resident of the Damned”. After all that has happened, Newgate invites Eliza to leave with him, but she believes that it makes no sense for them to be together, because she is mentally ill. To this, the doctor objects that in this regard, not everything is so simple.

A few months later, Baronet Graves comes to visit the newly rebuilt hospital to visit his wife, accompanied by a professor who has lectured at Oxford. Both are surprised by Eliza’s absence. Having learned the clue to her disappearance, the Oxford lecturer, stunned, informs everyone present that Newgate is he. The man acting here on his behalf is a pathological liar, an impostor, and an old patient of the real Newgate. What his real name is is unknown. It turns out that, having become obsessed with Eliza, he appropriated the name and position of his doctor. Where are they both now, the new management of the hospital does not know …

In the final shots, we again see the main characters. Having left for Tuscany, they are absolutely happy and do not seem mentally ill. Perhaps the meaning of the ending of the film “Resident of the Damned” is that love and freedom are the best medicines.

masquerade ballFrame from the film.

The meaning of the film Stonehearst Asylum

In their analysis, many viewers note that only the main idea and plot remained from the story of Edgar Allan Poe, on which “The Abode of the Damned” is based. The interpretation of these events here is completely different.

In the course of the story, real Dickensism is going on. However, the story of how mentally ill patients took the place of their doctors, sending them to prison, would certainly have liked Jonathan Swift.

Throughout the first half of the picture, the viewer is tormented by the question: who is healthy in this film, and who is really sick? Is it necessary to save the hardened souls of doctors who did not consider their patients human? Knowing the background, understanding how they “treated” the unfortunate, the question involuntarily arises: maybe this is how they need it? After all, everything that happened to them is nothing more than retribution …

The uprising of patients led by Lamb, who tried to defend the right of the mentally ill to human treatment, put an end to their power. After that, it turned out that most of the patients are not crazy at all. They ended up in the hospital at the behest of their relatives. Eliza’s hysteria was due to her husband’s cruelty, and Lamb’s crime was due to a state of passion: he could not bear the suffering of the soldiers.

The problem is that Lamb is a field doctor, not a psychiatrist, and his humanism has led to almost more evil than Salt’s harsh methods – the revolution in the asylum has generated a lot of blood.

dancing in whiteFrame from the film.

The essence of the film can be understood if you know something about the era in which the action takes place. We are talking about the decline of the “Victorian days” and the beginning of an era when “punitive psychiatry” was used with might and main. Moreover, not only in individual families, but also on a national scale. Only its offspring, a bloody revolution, could end this madness. Alas, it cannot give rise to a normal healthy society …

The protagonist of Stonehearst Asylum is also not a doctor. At the end of the picture, it turns out that he is also a mentally ill person. However, is this true? Throughout the film, he acted quite reasonably. Moreover, his personal way – to try to understand a sick person – worked and bore fruit. His feelings for Elise and his rejection of violence also indicate that he is normal. It can be assumed that he (like her) is a victim of circumstances and society. The real Newgate mentioned that he was a pathological liar, and no one knew his name. Maybe he had reasons to hide his identity? In any case, after leaving the “Cursed Hall”, he recovered.

In the flames of the fire, the old, terrible was destroyed. A new hospital has grown on the site of Stonehearst Asylum – a calm, peaceful place. The time of “torture” and humiliation of human dignity is over. Sick people are treated by real doctors. So it should be and so it will be.

entrance to the hospitalFrame from the film.

Similar films

Here are a few more films similar in meaning to Stonehearst Asylum:

  • Shutter Island (USA, 2009). A patient disappears in a clinic for the criminally insane. Two bailiffs are sent to investigate the case.
  • “Health Cure” (Germany, Luxembourg, USA, 2017). A young man arrives at a clinic in the Swiss Alps to persuade the head of a firm to return home. Unexpectedly, he discovers that the treatment here is, to put it mildly, strange.
  • “Raven” (USA, Spain, Hungary, 2011). A mysterious serial killer commits crimes based on the works of a famous writer. He undertakes to find him and call him to account.
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