True to historic facts, Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method holds some interesting surprises – naturally, considering the director and the actors’ work on the subtlest staging details. (See the Cronenberg interview). Some of those details lie on the more comical side, such as Freud’s character.
So far I had imagined Freud in different ways, but the idea of a Viennese cigar-munching Godfather had not occurred to me. Cronenberg’s Freud comes across as a slow talking, sometimes cynical, sometimes despicable plotter of institutional schemes. A hard-nosed professional subversive who seems impressed only by the ever-growing anti-semitism that besieges him and his new science. And when Jung finally falls out of favour, the only sense that comes to Freud’s mind is his designated successor’s « Aryanism ».
With Spielrein and Jung’s respective characters, things immediately seem to run deeper. The first time we see Spielrein, she’s literally howling mad. But she seems to get better with an astonishing speed, each and every time Jung addresses her like a normal human being. One can only imagine what it must have been like in the asylums of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But Bleuler and Jung’s Burghölzli looks very much like the Anti-Psychiatrist‘s dream. Patients, not inmates, are being cared for, offered interesting humane work and most of all are treated like fully responsible grown-ups. In this utopian castle, Spielrein not only turns out to be the gifted psychologist that Jung suspected right away, but she also learns how to accept and enjoy her sexual fantasies.
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