Judy, the story of a stolen childhood

Judy, the story of a stolen childhood

Title: Judy, the legend beyond the rainbow
Year: 2019
Director: Rupert Goold
Topics : childhood trauma, emotional neglect, alcoholism, emotional deprivation, emotional dependence, addiction.
Rating:  4.5 / 5 
Soundtrack: 10/10
Photography: 7/10

The interpretation of Renée Zellweger earned the 2020 Oscar award for Best Actress.


The biopic is the film adaptation of Peter Quilter’s play End of the Rainbow and tells the last months of the life of singer and actress Judy Garland (Renée Zellweger).

Judy Garland reaches her 40s consumed by  the entertainment world and the relentless pressures of MGM  (Metro Goldwyn Mayer).

Garland tells herself in the film as the child born to gratify the audience, stating that she was thrown onto the stage at a very young age by her parents and later exploited  by MGM.

The film highlights a disconcerting truth: Judy Garland  grew up suffering incessant physical and emotional abuse; in the last months recounted in the film shows the injured child who lived in her .

Psychological dynamics

Giudy Garland, described by all as a child prodigy, star of the film The Wizard of Oz and the goose that lays the golden eggs of MGM, has a turbulent past behind her.

Garland’s childhood is highlighted in the film which focuses mainly on the ailments and injuries  that  Judy manifests in adult life .

Garland’s wounds have very distant roots and explain very well how adult life lays its foundations in childhood: if the foundations are lacking, the entire adult world is put in jeopardy . The adult is the synthesis of the treatment received as a child.

The world of the adult Judy is characterized by bad love , instability , alcohol and substance abuse. From the outside, whoever looks at her may think: she had fame and money, how did she throw everything away and not enjoy life?

Sadly, Judy was not aware of anything,  she never  processed what was happening to her. She suffered success and found herself living a life that others had chosen for her, but never really understanding it.

The world of the child Judy is characterized by emotional deprivation, moral blackmail, insecurities, threats… Judy has built her identity on the gratification of others , first of the parents and then of the MGM agents.

That missing piece

My rating is  4.5 / 5 and not 5/5  because a piece of the puzzle is missing in the film, the evolutionary phase of the little girl she was is missing. The story told in the film begins when Judy is already a teenager, while her ailments have deeper roots.

Giudy Garland’s biography

In her biographies we read that her parents sent her to the stage when she was a few years old, that they put pressure on agents and managers so that they could “launch” her. We also read that his father was homosexual, unfaithful and untrustworthy, his mother a profiteering businessman, both facts of relevance if you analyze all the loves of Garlard who with her marriages has collected opportunistic men, one of whom was also gay.

On the left the real Judy Garland, on the right Judy played by Renée Zellweger

Judy has never had the chance to know  trust, nor has she been taught how to make rewarding bonds because since she was a child she has never made any, and she has died without ever having the possibility.

Despite being loved by the public, Judy considered herself extremely ugly : the world of entertainment had forced her to wear a nasal prosthesis, dental plates and follow a diet based on amphetamines. Not only that, Judy was bullied  on sets and even outside of show business, as evidenced in the film, the MGM impresario discrediting and abusing her physically and emotionally. There are several testimonies that see little Judy having been subjected to sexual abuse protracted until adolescence.

Emotional emptiness and addictions

The  emotional deprivation she suffered in childhood mixed with the chaos of abuse (physical and emotional) suffered in adolescence did not allow her to develop a healthy sense of identity . What Judy Garland carried inside was a  huge emotional void that no one has been able to  recognize and heal .

Oscar winner Renee Zellweger (left) and the real Judy Garland (right)

An attempt, in her real life, had made it: Judy had been hospitalized to detoxify from substance addiction , however MGM interrupted the rehabilitation process for contractual reasons.

Judy loved getting on stage  because through the  audience she compensated for the acceptance  she never had from her true affections. Young Judy had been starved, manipulated, drugged and depersonified, treated like a beautiful  prop that, however precious, remained a mere object. And that’s how Judy felt.

Let’s get one thing clear:  it wasn’t popularity that destroyed Judy’s life , but her childhood and her infernal adolescence. The bad emotional investments (in the husbands who exploited her) were a reflection of the  emotional dependence  she suffered from. In her childhood and growing up, she had only known relationships where she had to submit to the other and cancel herself out to please , so she found relationships in which she could reproduce the only script they had instilled in her .

The parallelism between past and present

Director  Rupert Goold’s film is painful  but real. We see a young Judy exploited to the extreme and an adult Judy falling apart, collapsing on stage. The parallelism  between past and present concludes the relationship between emotional stability and childhood affective education.

Judy Garland’s life ended prematurely at the age of 47. She was several kilograms underweight when she died, prolonged use of amphetamines during adolescence had caused her chronic insomnia, insomnia that Judy tried to placate with barbiturates used as sleeping pills. Judy used alcohol to numb the emotional pain  she was unable to  process and desperately try to  fill the huge emotional emptiness inside .

Some lives are broken in childhood but we have to wait for the years to fully notice the devastation of the scars left by others. 

Judy Garland’s life makes us understand how important it is to  be aware of one’s own experience, one’s personal identity and the resources we have inside , Judy had many but she didn’t know it.