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The 18th-century Viennese medical establishment is threatened by the radical yet successful healing methods of Austrian physician Franz Anton Mesmer. Blind pianist Maria Theresa Paradies, daughter of a well-to-do businessman, becomes Mesmer's patient after he calms her seizure at a concert. As the two are drawn into an intimate relationship, the situation is used as an excuse to banish Mesmer from Vienna. Undaunted, he moves on, becoming a court favorite in Paris. Written by
Bhob Stewart <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Interesting Biography of a Complicated 'Psychiatrist'
Was he a charlatan or a revolutionary in treating diseases of the mind? Hard to say, even after seeing the beautifully photographed movie. Our hindsight perspective is 100% but in the days of leeching, and bleeding to cure peoples' ills, the fact that he showed patients great attention and compassion was certainly a change. Mad people were usually penned up in Bedlam or some other horrid pigsty. Here, he is attempting bravely to take another tact in the unknown mysteries of mental illness. This movie also gives the scam-like aspects of his personality, as he beguiles the royal courtiers with his water therapies, touching them and arousing them, thus giving the semblance of 'healing'. I was reminded of the old-time revivals, and the sexy preachers coming close, putting hands-on the afflicted and shouting 'heal' and 'Hallelujah, sistuh'. Of course, if you're a repressed 'respectable woman', this is the only intimate way you can let a man not your husband touch you. His shrew of a wife, and utterly spiritually retarded stepson is beautifully played. I also like any movie that shows parts of the world I haven't seen, and this one gives us Vienna, parts of France and the costumes of 18th Century European civilization. It is NOT your everyday movie!!!! I would suggest viewing this one in series with bio-pics of Sigmund Freud and some of the other fighters of mental illness. Rickman is indeed magnetic in this one.
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