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A Dangerous Method is a 2011 historical film directed by David Cronenberg and starring Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, and Vincent Cassel. The screenplay was adapted by writer Christopher Hampton from his 2002 stage play
The Talking Cure, which was basedon the 1993 non-fiction book by John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: The story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein.
The film marks the third consecutive and overall collaboration between Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen (after A History of Violence and Eastern Promises). This is also the third Cronenberg film made with British film producer Jeremy Thomas, after completing together the
William Burroughs adaptation Naked Lunch and the J.G. Ballard adaptation Crash. A Dangerous Method was a German/Canadian co-production. The film premiered at the 68th Venice Film Festival and was also featured at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.
Set on the eve of World War I, A Dangerous Method describes the turbulent relationships between Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, Sigmund Freud, founder of the discipline of psychoanalysis, and Sabina Spielrein, initially a patient of Jung and later a physician and one of the first female psychoanalysts.
Sabina Spielrein arrives at the Burghölzli, the preeminent psychiatric hospital in Zurich, with a typical case of hysteria and begins a new course of treatment with the young Swiss doctor, Carl Jung. He is using word association and dream interpretation as part of his approach to
Freud's radical new science of psychoanalysis, and finds that Fraulein Spielrein's condition was triggered by the humiliation and sexual arousal she felt as a child due to her short-tempered father's habit of spanking her naked. These conflicting feelings were compounded by her instinctive knowledge (imparted by an angel's voice that speaks in German) that
she had done nothing to deserve such a punishment and in fact that she may have been a stand-in for her mother in her father's abuse (since her mother was unfaithful). Also, her affluent Russian Jewish family afforded her an exceptional education in preparation for university study, and she was a virgin.
Her intelligence and energy were immediately recognized and encouraged by Jung and Eugen Bleuler, the head of the hospital, and since she plans to study medicine they allow her to assist them in their experiments, including measuring the
physical reactions of subjects during word association, to provide empirical data as a scientific basis for psychoanalysis and ameliorate the more sensational aspects of Freud's theories, which contend that all mental illness is rooted in childhood sexual experience, be it real or fantasy.
She soon learns that much of this new science is founded on the doctors' observations of themselves, each other, and their families, not just their patients. The doctors correspond at length before they meet, and begin sharing their dreams and analysing each other, and Freud adopts Jung as his heir and agent.
Jung finds in Sabina a kindred spirit with a unique perspective as her self-awareness sharpens, and their attraction deepens in what was already well known at the time as transference. Jung's resistance to the idea of infidelity, and breaking the taboo of sex with a patient,
is undercut by the wild and unrepentant confidences of another brilliant, philandering, unstable psychoanalyst who comes under his care, Otto Gross. He decries monogamy in general and suggests that resistance to transference is symptomatic of the repression of normal, healthy sexual impulses, exhorting Jung to indulge himself with abandon.
Release date: 30 September 2011
User Votes: 6.6
Countries: UK, Germany, Canada, Switzerland,
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen,
Genres: Biography, Drama, Thriller,
Runtime: 99 minutes
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