The story of Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815), the source of the word "mesmerize" and the first to use hypnotism as a way to treat illness. Mesmer arrives in Paris, becomes famous and rich treating the maladies of the idle class using shock treatments. Then, while treating a blind lass, he discovers the potential of hypnotism, and sets aside at least some of his quackery to try to be a legitimate healer. Some of his successful treatments are short lived and more of his patients die than recover, so he is driven from Paris, living out his life as a quiet Swiss physician. We see him, old, in front of his fire, wondering if his life has been for the good. Written by
"Dr. Mesmer was believed by the ignorant to be in league with the powers of Hell."
Atmospheric entry in John Nesbitt's Passing Parade series that covers the life of 18th century German physician Franz Anton Mesmer. Yes the 'mesmerism' guy. This short tells of the techniques Mesmer used to treat the ill, including his experimentation with hypnotism. The short is dripping with cynicism from the start with narrator (and writer) John Nesbitt never missing an opportunity to mock Mesmer and those who believed in his quack medicine. Nothing wrong with pointing out the guy was a fraud but the tone is so harsh it struck me as a bit personal, like Nesbitt was ranting. It's all the more strange when you consider the short ends asking the question of whether Mesmer was a healer or a fraud, as if it had not been exclusively making the case for the latter the entire time. This was made in the 1940s and the runtime is brief, so obviously don't expect an accurate history lesson. As entertainment it's not bad for a short. It's a nice production with good atmosphere from director Edward L. Cahn and cinematographer Paul Vogel. John Baragrey, sounding somewhat like Charles Boyer, is good as Mesmer. Morris Ankrum has a bit part as the father of a blind girl. Definitely worth a look if you're into the subject matter or just enjoy the Passing Parade series.
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