A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them. CARL GUSTAV JUNG
With my new interest in psychotherapy, you can imagine how keen I was to catch up on David Cronenberg's latest film, A Dangerous Method. I saw it last Thursday at Nottingham's excellent, independent Broadway cinema. It's not a great film, but a very good one nonetheless.
It's about the relationship between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Gustav Jung (Michael Fassbender), their friendship and subsequent falling-out. As Freud's star fades, the ambitious Jung is more than ready to carry the torch. The foci of Jung's interests are much wider than Freud's, going beyond Freud's purely sex-oriented obsessions into the realms of telepathy and the paranormal. This 'unscientific' approach irritates Freud, and is a major factor in their split. The love interest in the film centres on Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a highly intelligent but disturbed patient of Jung's. She responds well to Jung's pioneering 'talking cure', so well that he invites her to be his clinical assistant. Despite Jung's initial feelings of guilt — he has a wife and family — they become lovers. Their sexual relationship is based on sadomasochism (Spielrein associates flagellation with sexual arousal, after being regularly spanked as a child by her father). When their affair comes to an end, Spielrein turns her attention to Freud, provoking Jung's jealousy.
I do recommend going to see this film. It's beautiful to look at, full of intelligently scripted conversation, and wickedly subversive. Also it's interesting to witness the early days of psychoanalysis, a time when researchers in this field were very much misunderstood and derided by the medical profession and by society in general.