This pseudo-biographical movie depicts Sigmund Freud's life from 1885 to 1890. At this time, most of his colleagues refused to treat hysteric patients, believing their symptoms to be ploys for attention. Freud, however, learns to use hypnosis to uncover the reasons for the patients' neuroses through his mentor and friend Josef Breuer. His main patient in the film is a young woman who refused to drink water and is plagued by a recurrent nightmare.
The story compresses the years it took Freud (Montgomery Clift) to develop his psychoanalytic theories into what seems like a few months. Nearly every neurotic symptom imaginable manifests itself in one patient, Cecily Koertner (Susannah York). She is sexually repressed, hysterical, and fixated on her father. Freud works extensively with her, developing one hypothesis after another. Also shown is Freud's home life with his wife Martha (Susan Kohner), with whom he alternately discusses his theories, and patronizes when she reads one of his papers.
Montgomery Clift and Susannah York in Freud
In 1958, John Huston decided to make a film about the life of the young Sigmund Freud, and asked Jean-Paul Sartre to write a summary of a projected scenario. Sartre submitted a synopsis of 95 pages, which was accepted, but later completed a finished script that, if filmed, would have amounted to a running time of five hours, and that Huston considered far too long. Huston suggested cuts, but Sartre submitted an even longer script of eight hours, justifying the even longer version by saying, "On peut faire un film de quatre heures s’il s’agit de Ben Hur, mais le public de Texas ne supporterait pas quatre heures de complexes" ("We can make a film of four hours in the case of Ben Hur, but the Texas public couldn't stand four hours of complexes."). Huston and Sartre quarrelled, and Sartre withdrew his name from the film's credits.
The film heavily compresses events, cases and acquaintances early in Freud's career, spanning from his work at the Vienna General Hospital under Theodor Meynert during the mid-1880s, through his research into hysteria and his seduction theory along with Breuer, up until his development of infantile sexuality and the Oedipus complex around the turn of the century that became the basis for his fundamental Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, first published in 1905.
The character of Cecily Körtner is based upon a number of early patients of Freud's, most notably Anna O. but also Dora and others. Similarly, the character of Josef Breuer and his role as mentor and friend in Freud's life as portrayed by Larry Parks is in fact a combination of the real Breuer with Wilhelm Fliess.
Freud was nominated for two Academy Awards at the 35th Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay (lost to Divorce, Italian Style), and Best Original Score (lost to Lawrence of Arabia). Among other awards, the film was also nominated for 4 Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Motion Picture Actress - Drama (Susannah York), Best Motion Picture Director (John Huston), and Best Supporting Actress (Susan Kohner).
Reception in France
Élisabeth Roudinesco comments that Freud: The Secret Passion, "did not have any success. And yet the black and white photography of Douglas Slocombe recaptures superbly the baroque universe of fin de siècle Vienna. As for Montgomery Clift, he portrays an anguished, somber and fragile Freud, closer to the James Dean of Rebel without a Causethan to the mummified figure imposed by the official historians of psychoanalysis: a character, in any event, more Sartrean than Jonesian. The work was distributed to the movie houses of Paris at the beginning of June 1964, two weeks before Lacan's foundation of the Ėcole freudienne de Paris. It went completely unnoticed by the psychoanalysts of Paris, who failed to find in it the hero of their imagination." Sartre did not see the film.
The mostly dissonant, atonal score to Freud was one of the earliest works by composer Jerry Goldsmith. It garnered Goldsmith his first Oscar nomination, which he lost to the score Lawrence Of Arabia that was done by fellow rookie composer Maurice Jarre, who, like Goldsmith, would go on to become one of the film industry's most successful and respected composers. The "Main Title" from Freud, as well as the tracks Charcot's Show and Desperate Case were later purchased and reused without consent of Goldsmith by director Ridley Scott for the acid blood scene and others in the film Alien (1979), also scored by Goldsmith.
Having previously been unavailable in any home media format for half a century, Freud: The Secret Passion was eventually released in the UK by Transition Digital Media in a 1.78:1 letter-boxed, non-anamorphic 4:3 format, on a Region 2 DVD edition on April 23, 2012.
- ^ a b c Roudinesco, Elisabeth. Jacques Lacan & Co: A History of Psychoanalysis in France, 1925-1985. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990, p. 166
- ^ "IMDB.com: Awards for Freud: The Secret Passion". imdb.com. Retrieved February 13, 2010.
- ^ Sartre, Le Scénario, 10; Scenario. viii.
- ^ Isaac, Tim (2012). Freud (DVD), Big Gay Picture Show, April 23, 2012
- ^ Alien landscapes - A UK region 2 DVD review of FREUD, Cineoutsider.com, May 28, 2012
- ^ Schwartz, Dennis (2006). FREUD (aka: Freud: The Secret Passion), Dennis Schwartz's Movie Reviews, March 9, 2006
- ^ Freud, passions secrètes (1962) de John Huston, Le Monde, June 13, 2012 (translated from French)
- ^ Cohen-Solal, Annie. Sartre: A Life. London: William Heinemann Ltd, 1987, p. 385
- ^ Kirgo, Julie (2009). Booklet to the 2009 Deluxe Edition of the OST to Freud, published by Varèse Sarabande Records and USI B Music Publishing (BMI)
- ^ Alien soundtrack review at Filmtracks.com. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
- Holland, Norman N. (1994). John Huston, Freud, 1962 (adapted essay from an earlier version published in How to See Huston's Freud: Perspectives on John Huston, Ed. Stephen Cooper. Perspectives on Film Series. New York: G. K. Hall, 1994. 164-83.)