Films: A Dangerous Method

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A Dangerous Method

A Dangerous Method

United Kingdom, 2011, 99 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: Switzerland, USA, Canada
Genre/Subjects: Biographical, Drama, Historical/Period, Psychological
Programs: Contemporary World Cinema, Special Presentations
Language: English

DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg
Producer: Jeremy Thomas
Editor: Ronald Sanders
Screenwriter: Christopher Hampton
Cinematographer: Peter Suschitzky
Principal Cast: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel

The rift between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung has fascinated psychiatrists, historians, and philosophers for decades, but it has taken the radical film dramatist David Cronenberg (Videodrome, The Fly, Crash, A History of Violence) to put some red meat on those old bones. In this study of high intellect, envy, and obsession—already infamous before its release for a doctor-patient spanking scene—Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Jung (Michael Fassbinder, who also stars in the equally provocative Shame) share not only limitless ambition but a pivotal patient, the brilliant “hysteric” Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley). That the Russian-born Sabina also happens to be Jung's lover increases the stakes of the conflict. Britain's Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons) wrote the screenplay, based on his play The Talking Cure.

Mortensen recently told an interviewer that the film is about two great, self-absorbed minds at war—about two men who “may be vulnerable to the point of being paranoid.” Along with that possibility, look for some nudity, some full-scale madness, and some pointed sniping. Example: When Fassbinder's Jung begins to reject Freud's obsession with sexual trauma as the root of all behavior, he comes up with a most elegant putdown: “Surely, there must be more than one hinge in the universe.”

And more than one way to cast a film. In the beginning, Christian Bale and Christoph Waltz were signed to play Jung and Freud, respectively. When both actors dropped out (for different reasons), Cronenberg merrily observed: “Bale bailed. Waltz waltzed. We moved on.”

Sponsored by Consulate General of Canada in Denver

In cooperation with C.G. Jung Institute of Colorado

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