The term gaslighting refers to a type of psychological manipulation in which a person or group manages to convince their victims to question their own sanity, memory, or perceptions of things. And it got its name thanks to a London play, written 83 years ago and still extremely current when it comes to human relationships.
Gaslight has a more technical explanation. In pre-electricity times, the light was gas so it fails. In the United States, where Vincent Price was in the cast, the play changed its name to Angel Street, but the two film versions kept the original.
The British film, starring a spectacular Anton Walbrook (who also shone in The Red Shoes), is faithful to the theatrical text. It was directed by Thorold Dickinson and co-starred by Diana Wynyard.
The success of the work inspired MGM to buy the rights to make the American version, virtually suspending circulation of the British original for many years. The 1944 version makes some adaptations of the story but keeps the original premise. Directed by George Cukor, the thriller was starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, and Joseph Cotten and was nominated for 8 Oscars, yielding the first to Ingrid as Best Actress. Many consider Gaslight one of the director’s best films and with greater psychological richness than its original.
It’s worth watching both movies to draw comparisons. Then you will understand the true meaning of “don’t gaslight me”, which means “don’t drive me crazy”. In times of mental health, the classics teach us a lot.