The Sedona International Film Festival is proud to present a “Festival Flashback” of “Hysteria” on Tuesday, April 6 at 4 and 7 p.m. at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre.
“Hysteria” is a romantic comedy with an accomplished cast led by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rupert Everett, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce and Felicity Jones. The film tells an untold tale of discovery — the surprising story of the birth of the electro-mechanical vibrator at the very peak of Victorian prudishness.
London, 1880: Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) — a dedicated and forward-thinking young doctor — is struggling to establish his career. While Granville preaches sanitation and germ theory, the old guard of doctors clings to leeches and hacksaws, scoff at his upstart ideas, and show him the door.
Granville’s fortunes change when he arrives for an interview at the well-appointed private offices of Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), London’s leading specialist in women’s medicine. Dalrymple has a thriving solo practice; indeed, his waiting room is overflowing with well-dressed women suffering “weeping, nymphomania, frigidity, melancholia, and anxiety” – afflictions of the female nervous system thought to stem from a disorder of the uterus known as “hysteria.” Fortunately, enlightened medicine has shown that hysteria can be treated by relieving tensions within the womb, and Dalrymple’s treatments are so successful that, as he explains to Granville, “another pair of hands” is his urgent need. Granville is hired on the spot.
Just as Granville’s life seems to be settling into prosperity and security, engaged to Dr. Dalrymple’s daughter Emily (Felicity Jones) with the prospect of partnership in Dalrymple’s lucrative practice, his hopes are dashed by an affliction of his own: hand cramps. He loses his job and, with it, his fiancé.
Granville seeks refuge with his lifelong friend, the eccentric and wealthy Edmund St. John Smythe (Rupert Everett), whose passion is newfangled technology (he has a telephone installed before Buckingham Palace does). Smythe has been tinkering with an invention of his own, an electric feather-duster powered by a rumbling electric generator installed in his parlor. Absent-mindedly handling the duster, Granville is struck by how pleasurable the sensation of the machine’s steady vibration feels in his hand, and a brilliant idea takes hold. A few simple adjustments, a bit of experimentation and the world’s first electric vibrating massager is created.
Granville and Smythe convince Dalrymple to try out the innovation on his patients, with spectacular results.
This is the story of how one of the first electrical appliances in history to earn a patent sent sparks flying between a cautious man and a liberated woman, brought together by the wonders of friction.
“Hysteria” will be shown at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Tuesday, April 6 at 4 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $12, or $9 for Film Festival members. For tickets and more information, please call 928-282-1177. Both the theatre and film festival office are located at 2030 W. Hwy. 89A, in West Sedona. For more information, visit: www.SedonaFilmFestival.org.