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Jupiter's Wife
Jupiter's Wife
Actors: Maggie Cogan, Katina Pendleton
Director: Michel Negroponte
Genres: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2004     1hr 27min

Ten years following its theatrical debut, this astonishing real-life mystery continues to haunt audiences around the world. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and widely hailed by critics, JUPIT...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Maggie Cogan, Katina Pendleton
Director: Michel Negroponte
Creators: Michel Negroponte, Doug Block, Jane Weiner, Gabriel Morgan
Genres: Documentary, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Biography, Docurama, Mystery & Suspense
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 03/30/2004
Original Release Date: 09/08/1995
Theatrical Release Date: 09/08/1995
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 27min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The real face of "family values".....
Craig Chalquist, PhD, author of TER | Bay Area, CA USA | 01/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"C. G. Jung once had a patient who believed she lived on the moon. So Jung met her there. As she realized he took her experiences as valid, she told a sad tale of vampires and isolation. Eventually, this woman who'd been abused as a girl made her way back to earth. Patients like her had taught Jung that the fact of a person's madness did not in any way invalidate the richness and authenticity of their personal mythology.

It would be easy to dismiss--to "shrink"--Maggie Cogan's inner world. Having been homeless in Central Park, she clearly displays the classic symptoms of schizophrenia. She is one of thousands and thousands of women in the U.S. left without adequate health care or even the means to support themselves. As her story gradually emerges, the trained watcher wonders whether her schizophrenic predisposition would have manifested so floridly had she not been subjected to the events described in this film. As a result, she believes she is Hera, wife of Zeus, or in Roman terms, Juno, the wife of Jupiter. She wears a radio strapped to her head so she can be "on the airwaves" tuned in to what's happening. (She finds New York gridlock amusing and avoids it.) The filmmaker decided to listen in and, at one point, not only investigate her past, but contact social services personnel to get her some help. Unfortunately, they showed up with sledgehammers and knocked down her shed. No squatters allowed, even in a New York winter.

When I show this film to graduate students I suggest that they hold it on at least two levels simultaneously--the needless tragedy of this homeless woman's life, and the mythological dimension that surrounds it like an aura--without reducing one to the other and thereby falling into either the shrinkage of reductionism or the romanticization of mental illness. Maggie Cogan is a person with a story to tell, a survivor, an inspiration, and a face of reality behind all the political jingoism to justify spending billions on weapons while Americans starve. She is also a parable. In ancient times storytellers and listeners knew the world remained in balance so long as Jupiter and Juno remained in relations of mutual empowerment. But today, as the plutocracy consumes the planet surface ("plutocracy" from Pluto, god of death and wealth), Jupiter has lost his throne to President Mars, the family in all its versions is on the brink of bankruptcy, and Hera is no longer the Queen of Heaven, maternal image of feminine authority. She lives on relief in New Jersey, where she looks after her puppies, goes without medication, and listens in on the pulse of the times without losing her dignity or her sense of the ironic."
The Story of Maggie
Juliet M. Grigsby | St. Paul, MN USA | 02/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I rarely watch anything twice, but after seeing this film, the story stayed in my mind for a long time and I've watched it again from time to time to fit all the pieces and, more importantly, not to forget. To see how circumstances can change one's life forever and how one copes with things that are too painful to acknowlege is what struck me about this film. It is a tragic film as to what might have been and one can't help but love Maggie with her lyrical speech and laughing manner which mask what lies underneath which even she herself can't bear to remember."
A Romantic Conversation
Sara Hathaway | Pittsfield, MA | 04/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Is it schizophrenia, or just a well-developed personal mythology? Or perhaps even a fate predestined in ancient times, the "romantic conversation" of a woman who has determined to devote her time and energy to maintaining the strength of her million-year-long marriage to the god Jupiter.

In "Jupiter's Wife," Michel Negroponte introduces us to Maggie, a homeless woman who spends her days wandering through Central Park, surrounded by her dogs, amused by her radio and drawing comfort from her belief that extra-sensory perception allows her to anticipate and understand what is happening in her world.

Negroponte's portrayal of Maggie and her life is free of the kinds of judgments or pathos that one might expect in a film about a schizophrenic.

When Maggie is compelled to submit to a psychiatric exam in order to qualify for a rent subsidy, Negroponte shows us Maggie's version of the interview and allows us to share her relief and amusement that an event so intrusive and potentially threatening to her self-image turns out to be so perfunctory and impersonal.

The filmmaker's affection for his subject creates for the viewer an atmosphere of respect and a suspension of disbelief. We begin to see this mentally ill individually from an entirely new perspective. What if she's not crazy? Maybe this is a person who has simply constructed a sensible world for herself that doesn't make sense to anyone else. When Negroponte asks Maggie to explain what ESP is and how it works, she says it is a "finely tuned understanding of other people and what they want and how they can achieve their goals relative to your goals so we can all just move this everlasting peace grid just down that much closer to earth so that there's peace."

Poets and songwriters have said stranger things.

"Jupiter's Wife" succeeds in challenging our preconceptions about homelessness and mental illness, and encourages us to remember that there is a complex and valuable human being beneath the apparent craziness. Let us hope that this fresh insight comes to mind when we encounter those people who are perhaps less beguiling than Maggie, but who are sleeping out on the grates or in doorways or in the great urban parks under "the everlasting peace grid."
Respectful Portrait Of Mentally Different Homeless Woman
Susan K. Schoonover | Boulder, CO | 07/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This documentary introduces us to Maggie a lady of middle years living in Manhattan's Central Park with a pack of stray dogs she has made in to a family of sorts. The filmmaker, Michel Negroponte, met Maggie by chance in the park and was entranced by her beguiling personality and cryptic statements that seem to show both madness and wisdom. Maggie is a mysterious character and Negroponte is able to solve some of the mystery of her earlier life through a bit of research that surprisingly uncovers tapes of different appearances she made on national television as a young woman in her career as one of the first female horse carriage driver/tour guides in New York City. Maggie has affluent friends (including the film's producer Negroponte) who help her with her life but there is no fairy tale ending to the story. This is a poignant well made documentary of particular interest to those with a love of New York City and/or an interest in those with mental health differences."