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David M. Evans
The Birth of Psychoanalysis: Friedrich Nietzsche, Dr Josef Breuer and Freud
WHEN NIETZSCHE WEPT gives us an insight into the beginnings of Psychology and particularly the Treatment of Talking as begun not by Sigmund Freud, but instead by the brilliant yet troubled mind of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the Viennese physician Dr. Josef Breuer. Pinchas Perry adapted the novel by the same name by Irvin D. Yalom and also directs this period piece. The film works on many levels: the flavor of the period is well captured (though Vienna in the film is Bulgarian locations!), the ideas are fresh to some, and the pacing and use of moments of fine classical music tidbits add flavor. If only more attention had been paid to the theories discussed...
1872 is the time and two men are haunted by demons, and the 'demons' happen to be failed love affairs with famous women. Dr. Josef Breuer (Ben Cross) is a famous physician but is obsessed with an hysterical young woman Bertha (Michal Yannai). Another beautiful lady enters Breuer's world in the form of Lou Salome (Katheryn Winnick) who has had a brief affair with the philosopher Nietzsche (Arman Assante) and feels he needs Breuer's help with his 'Talk Therapy'. The two men meet, share fears, and agree to a mutually beneficial relationship: Breuer will help Nietzsche with his migraines (due to his obsession with Lou Salome) and Nietzsche will share his philosophical approach to the world to help Breuer with is recurring nightmares. The resulting experience is an introduction to psychoanalysis as a treatment, a treatment that fascinates the young Freud (Jamie Elman).
The action is a bit heavy on the dream and surreal sequences instead of being a learned exploration of a very important period of history. The quality of acting is variable: Assante seems the only one to wholly grasp his role as Nietzsche. The film has many flaws but in the end it is an interesting introduction to the history of an important movement in medicine. It takes patience to watch but it is well worth the viewer's time. Grady Harp
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