Nov 21, 2011
If any film has ever played out onscreen almost exactly as I imagined it would before viewing it, it is David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method; a cinematic portrayal of the bizarre psychoanalytic love triangle between Aryan Christ Carl Gustav Jung (played by Michael Fassbender), the Rebbe of psychoanalysis; Sigmund Freud (played by Viggo Mortensen), and the young and thoroughly neurotic Jewess Sabina Spielrein (played by Keira Knightly). As someone who has read numerous books by Jung and his break with pseudo-father-figure Freud, I was quite surprised by the realistic (and often politically incorrect) portrayal of the inevitablly doomed relationship between the two alpha-psychoanalysts. Like A Dangerous Method director David Cronenberg himself, Freud was a Jewish atheist who had a keen knack for sexualizing the most trivial of everday situations and circumstances. Also like Cronenberg (and unlike their fellow perverted but more sexually ambitious Judaic kinsman Wilhelm Reich), Freud also tended to link man’s greatest fears with the sexual. As fairly accurately portrayed in A Dangerous Method, C.G. Jung was annoyed by Freud’s stern interest in incest and dogmatic anal fixations, thus the two eventually parted ways in a most irreparable way. Freud's jealously over Jung's affair with his Jewish patient Sabina Spielrein would also prove to be detrimental to their already disintegrating relationship.
From the very beginning of A Dangerous Method, it is most apparent that Sigmund Freud is quite conscious of his Jewish identity and the alien Aryan society he lives in. One of the real-life Freud’s heroes was Hannibal because like Carthaginian military commander, he saw himself as Semite who sought to destroy Occidental Civilization. Of course, Freud, being nothing more than a glamorized, penis-obsessed pencil pusher, attempted to battle Western Civilization by corrupting its morals through his less than kosher theories, especially in regard to sexuality. In A Dangerous Method, Freud’s sheer resentment towards the Teuton man is more than obvious and even Jung is not excluded from his hatred. Due to the fact that the psychoanalytic movement was disproportionately Hebraic, Freud championed Jung as the chairman of the International Psychoanalytic Association so as to give the organization a more “Aryan Face.” Cronenberg makes light of this fact (albeit, somewhat subtlety) in A Dangerous Method; no doubt a bold and totally anti-Hollywood gesture on his part. Of course, Freud’s racial chauvinism becomes most glaring when he realizes that his goy boy protégé starts an affair with the kind of stunning Jewess that he could have only dreamed of as a young mensch in the ghetto. Freud sees fit to (in a dishonest fatherly manner) tell Spielrein that she should “never trust an Aryan” and that her affair with Jung is nothing more than the delusional pseudo-love of a Jewess fawning over a mystical Aryan “Siegfried.”
It is undoubtedly an understatement for me to say that I was a bit weary of the thought of seeing stoic Dane Viggo Mortensen portraying a totally emasculated and hopelessly neurotic early 20th century Jewish intellectual yet he managed to pull it off the seemingly impossible in A Dangerous Method. Indeed, Mortensen looks like Freud on 'Roids yet he is versatile enough as an actor to mimic the stewing bitterness and growing quasi-schizoid paranoia of the Viennese psychoanalyst in an exceptionally believable way. It also does not hurt that Mortensen sports Freud’s stereotypical beard. Naturally, just like all of his performances, Michael Fassbender does a notable job portraying young C.G. Jung; a man who has yet to grow as a great thinker in his own right. Only after his break with Freud and his deep immersion in Gnosticism did Jung develop into the highly revered thinker he is today. Fassbender portrays young Jung as a man torn between his allegiance to a somewhat hostile father figure and asserting his own budding original theories. Although his role as proto-hippie psychoanalyst Otto Grass is small, Vincent Cassell performance is also quite notable. Even as a Frenchman, Cassell brings the charming swarthy libertine routine to a new extreme in A Dangerous Method. To my surprise, Keira Knightly had me believing that she was as a neurotic Russian Jewess whose behavior ranges from the severely repellant and dangerously childish to sexually fetishistic and highly professional. That being said, not only is A Dangerous Method a cinematic introductory course in psychoanalytic history but also a work of romantic neo-Victorian decadence.
I have noticed that a lot of diehard David Cronenberg fans are somewhat disappointed by the Canadian filmmaker's more recent non-body-horror works. On the contrary, I found A Dangerous Method to be more subversive and ambitious than much of Cronenberg’s earlier works as the film is merely more intricately packaged with a sleeker and subtler design. Sure, a small scene of sadomasochistic sex between Fassbender and Knightly may be the most visually offensive aspect of A Dangerous Method but the film tells an imperative story – the battle of two cultures and two peoples – a dichotomy about the history of psychoanalysis that even the most dedicated of psyche nerds have yet to understand. Over two decades after her fling with Freud and Jung, Sabina Spielrein was exterminated by SS Death Squad, Einsatzgruppe D in 1942. Although Freud laughed at Jung’s insistence on the importance of myths, his young student would predict – through “dubious ancient Aryan myths” – the outcome of the National Socialist revolutionary via his infamous essay Wotan; a work that describes the Teutonic archetype and what role it would play in the awakening of the German "collective unconscious" (a term coined by Jung) and the war and destruction it would bring to Europe (and its enemies) as a result. Of course, Freud managed to escape from the Gestapo and his anti-Aryan theories live on today in the hearts of Cultural Marxist college professors and Hollywood screenwriters. Seeing as it is virtually impossible nowadays to watch a children’s show without hearing some sort of Freudian sexual quip, it is quite obvious who of the two adversarial psychoanalytic heavyweights had the most dangerous method.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 4:53 PM
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