An American scientist is sent by the CIA to East Germany to retrieve a secret microfilm from a Soviet scientist interested in defecting to the West but the Stasi secret police's surveillance complicates matters.
This pseudobiographical movie depicts five years from 1885 on in the life of the Viennese psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). At this time, most of his colleagues refuse to cure hysteric patients, because they believe they're just simulating to gain attention. But Freud learns to use hypnosis to find out the reasons for the psychosis. His main patient is a young woman who refuses to drink water and is plagued repeatedly by the same nightmare.Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Originally prepared at 140 minutes; cut to 120 minutes for theatrical release. Some older TV prints still use the cut version; full-length version is now available on DVD in the UK (as of 2015 there has been no domestic Region 1 DVD release.) See more »
According to the Citadel Film Series book about the films of John Huston, he was interested for about 20 years in bringing Sigmund Freud's life and work to the big screen. When he finally got a script from philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre it was an eight hour epic which he finally trimmed down to less than two and half hours. A manageable length and it only covers the years 1885 to 1891 when Freud developed his theories about infant sexuality and the Oedipal complex.
Just the mere fact that when you mention psychology and ask who is the person most associated with the field and Freud is the answer 99% of the time qualifies him to be the first man of his field. Those theories which he expounds have been challenged down through the years, but more often than not his peers are building on what he started and not just outrightly dismissing Freud.
The subject is probably too complex a one to bring to the screen for the lay person, but Huston makes a valiant effort. Huston also had Code parameters to deal with in 1962. Huston is also helped along by a great performance he coaxed out of Montgomery Clift and God knows Clift was a man by that time beset with his own demons of the mind and had seen enough of psychology as well as more addicting methods of pain control. Huston had the devil's own time with Clift, but Clift responded greatly. It was a miracle this film was finished at all.
This was Montgomery Clift's last really great film. He did a rather pedestrian spy novel The Defector four years later as his last film. That was like a tune up film for him to do before he was to start Reflections In A Golden Eye. Monty was way too gone by then and essentially just walked through that one. He should have gone out with Freud.
There are a couple of other performances of note. Sussanah York as the girl who Clift treats that really gets him thinking along the lines of sex and David McCallum as well as a mental patient who shows some interesting subliminal sexual behavior under hypnosis. Larry Parks also makes an appearance as Freud's colleague, friend, but critic in the end Joseph Breuer.
Essentially Freud is Clift's show all the way and a grand show it is. And this review is dedicated to my father Leonard S. Kogan who was most prominent in this field and had a bust of Freud along with Einstein and Washington among the bric a brac in our house as people he admired.
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