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Post by Admin on Sat Apr 24, 2010 5:28 pm

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/freud-and-jung-a-meeting-of-minds-1952986.html

Freud and Jung: A Meeting of Minds

As David Cronenberg reveals he is to make a film about Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Arifa Akbar analyses the relationship between psychiatry's biggest brains

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Sigmund Freud, left, in 1931, and Carl Jung, in 1955; their friendship was torn apart by Jung's liaison with his young patient Sabina Spielrein, who 'both divided and defined them'.

It is perhaps ironic that when Sigmund Freud – who lived by the psychoanalytic theory that sexual desire was the prime motivator for human beings – found out his young protégé, Carl Jung, was having an extra-marital affair with a pretty patient at a mental hospital, he was damning of it.

It was at the turn of the 20th century when the father of psychoanalysis discovered Jung – a married young doctor – was embroiled in an improper sexual liaison with Sabina Spielrein, a 22-year-old Russian who was first admitted as a patient to the Swiss hospital at which Jung worked, and later became one of his most brilliant students, and committed lover.

The revelation caused a schism in the men's friendship that would deepen into personal and professional estrangement in years to come when Jung announced a departure from Freudian psychoanalytic thought and launched his own school of analysis based on dream theory, the collective unconscious and spirituality.

Spielrein's highly charged presence in their lives is now to set the scene for a new film, A Dangerous Method, by the acclaimed director, David Cronenberg, in which Keira Knightley will play the role of Jung's lover, the unsung heroine of psychoanalysis whose own brilliant theories – in spite of her mental fragility – influenced both Freud's and Jung's ground-breaking works.

The director, who is known for his edgy, stylised treatment of stories such as his film adaptation of William S Burroughs' book Naked Lunch, is preparing for a radical interpretation of the fractious triangular friendship. It is being billed as a "dark tale of sexual and intellectual discovery drawn from true-life events". Cronenberg, who first had the idea four years ago, said he had "long been drawn to the story of erotic daring between these two good doctors and the woman who both divided and defined them".

The film will star Michael Fassbender as Jung, and Viggo Mortensen as Freud, who at the time was grappling with many of the neuroses on which he wrote so extensively. A decade earlier, Freud had begun experiencing numerous psychosomatic disorders and exaggerated fears of dying.

The screenplay is to be written by Christopher Hampton, and based on his 2002 stage play, The Talking Cure. Hampton described it as a "true story of the obsessive love affair which played so fateful a role in the pioneering days of psychoanalysis". Shooting will begin next month in Vienna and Lake Constance, and it is due to be in cinemas from next spring.

Jeremy Thomas, the film's producer, said while Spielrein may now be largely forgotten internationally, she was still a "much admired and important figure in Russia today". He said: "In this film, she will be presented as a rather brilliant character, not a victim at all, but a winner. I'm very excited as the film will make psychoanalysis more accessible. It is not usually a topic for popular culture but it is a very important school of thought from the 20th century."

The drama will offer a 10-year snapshot of their friendship triangle, starting from Spielrein's entry to the asylum. Born 1885 to a family of a Jewish doctors in Rostov, Spielrein was admitted to the Burghölzli mental hospital near Zürich, in August 1904, where Jung, who had wed two years previously, worked. She remained there for almost a year and established a deep emotional relationship with Jung who was later her medical dissertation advisor.

A fellow psychoanalyst discovered Jung's breach of professional ethics and he was promptly dismissed from the Burghölzli. Spielrein was later discharged as a patient, wrote a dissertation about schizophrenia
, and was elected a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. She continued to work with Jung until 1912 and met Freud in Vienna, before returning to Soviet Russia to get married.

The intense friendship between Freud and Jung began around the same time as the affair when Jung, then 30, sent his "Studies in Word Association" to Freud, then 50, in Vienna. The first conversation between them is reported to have lasted more than 13 hours.

Six months later in 1905, Freud sent a collection of his latest published essays to Jung in Zürich, which marked the beginning of an intense correspondence and collaboration that lasted six years. But growing intellectual differences saw Jung resign as the chairman of the International Psychoanalytical Association, to which he had been elected with Freud's support, in May 1910.

The early books of Carl Jung contain theories that chime with Freud's, but by 1912 he had published a theory about the psychology of the unconscious, from which it became clear that his thoughts were taking a different direction from Freudian psychoanalysis, which he called "analytical psychology".

While Spielrein is not often given more than a footnote in the history of the development of psychoanalysis, her conception of the sex drive as containing both an instinct of destruction and an instinct of transformation, which she presented to the Society in 1912, anticipated both Freud's "death wish" and Jung's views on "transformation". She may thus, it is believed by some, have inspired both men's most creative ideas. When Jung had first met Spielrein, he was a fledgling psychiatrist who was very much under the influence of the older, wiser Freud's pioneering theories of psychoanalysis.

While Freud was said to have been censorious about Jung's affair, the latter was also meddlesome in his friend's love life. He is believed to have spread the rumour of a romantic relationship between Freud and his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays, who had moved into Freud's apartment in 1896. Their names appeared in a Swiss hotel log, dated 13 August 1898. Some Freudian scholars regard this as a factual basis for those rumours.

Theories of the mind

Director David Cronenberg 28filf10

Sigmund Freud

The Jewish-Austrian neurologist who founded the psychoanalytic method of psychiatry. Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and for creating the clinical practice of psychoanalysis through dialogue between a patient. Freud is also renowned for his redefinition of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life, although he once famously remarked: 'The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is "What does a woman want?"' While some of Freud's ideas have fallen out of favour or been modified, he is considered one of the most prominent thinkers of the first half of the 20th century and still has many devotees.

Carl Gustav Jung

The Swiss psychiatrist was the founder of analytical psychology (also known as Jungian psychology). He has become known as a pioneer in the field of dream analysis. Although he was a practising clinician, much of his life's work was spent exploring Eastern philosophy, alchemy and astrology. In 1906, he published Studies in Word Association and later sent a copy of this book to Freud, and a close friendship followed for some six years. In 1912, Jung published Psychology of the Unconscious, resulting in a theoretical divergence from Freud and consequently a break in their friendship, with both stating that the other was unable to admit he could possibly be wrong. The experience is likely to have been welcomed by Jung, as he once said: 'Thing that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.' He also belieced that 'the meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.'


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Post by Admin on Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:01 pm

http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/08/25/david-cronenberg-on-freud-keira-and-pressing-the-flesh/

David Cronenberg on Freud, Keira and pressing the flesh
by Brian D. Johnson on Wednesday, August 25, 2010 4:14pm - 0 Comments

Canadian director David Cronenberg is fresh back from Germany, where he just wrapped his latest feature, A Dangerous Method. Scripted by Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons), it’s a period piece about the fathers of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender). Cronenberg steps into the limelight this weekend as a star attraction at FanExpo Canada (Aug. 27-29). The event, which takes place in his hometown, at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre, draws fans of comic books, horror, sci-fi, and gaming—all domains that Cronenberg has explored in his movies. I interviewed him by phone last week:

Q. So you’re going to be pressing the flesh at FanExpo. Have you done this kind of thing before?

A. I did go to ComicCon in San Diego when we released A History of Violence, because it had been a graphic novel. And it was really a lot of fun.

Q. What’s the profile of a typical David Cronenberg fan?

A. Well, it varies. Somebody who’s a fan of Eastern Promises is not going to be the same person, necessarily, as someone who’s a fan of Scanners. Even Guillermo del Toro—he’s a fan of mine in general and we’re friends, but he likes the early stuff, the horror stuff. So Guillermo could be a typical fan, if you like: he’s a large Mexican filmmaker who’s very funny and very smart.

Q. Do you actually enjoy getting out there and signing autographs?

I’m ready. I’ve been in isolation for too long. I’ve spent four months doing a movie in Germany, most of it in a studio, a hermetically sealed environment. I thought it would be fun to connect with my past—not that it’s over for me with gore and sci-fi films, but I haven’t made one since eXistenZ. And this is different from doing heavy-duty interviews when you’re selling a film. It should be looser and more fun.

Q. Tell me about A Dangerous Method. You’ve called it a biopic, which surprises me. I can’t imagine a David Cronenberg film cleaving to such a conventional genre.

A. In a way, I think of Naked Lunch as a biopic, or even M. Butterfly, or Dead Ringers—they were all based on real people.

Q. So much of your work is based on making the unconscious palpable, and here you’ve made a film about Freud and Jung, the two towering thinkers who put the unconscious on the map. Are you a fan of Freud or Jung?

A. I’d hate to choose now. My actors would be upset. [laughs] I certainly tend more to the Freud side than to the Jung side. But I did a lot of research into Jung and his relationship with Freud, and he’s really fascinating—a great, charismatic character. It filled out my understanding of the whole psychoanalytic movement. That’s the great thing about making a movie, it encourages you to do deep, deep research. When I say deep, I’m talking about the physicality, the furniture—I have a chair in my house now that’s a replica of Freud’s chair. Freud actually designed a chair for himself to sit in while he was writing. The producers bought me a replica. It looks like a human being. The back of the chair has a head and the arms are like arms. It’s quite comfortable too; it actually has lumbar support, which I was surprised to find. They presented it too me at the wrap party because they knew I admired to chair. It was made by a furniture maker who made the replica of the chair for the museum in Vienna, because the original is in the museum in London. They got him to make me one.

Q. Your films tend to produce artifacts—the flesh gun from eXistenZ, the gynecological instruments from Dead Ringers.

A. The art form is physical. The acting is physical. You’re putting light on objects and humans. And of course, when you’re doing a period piece, the artifacts are critical because it’s the only way you can take your audience back in time with you. Of course there’s some CG sleight of hand that isn’t physical. But for the actors, to put on those clothes and put on those spectacles and pick up that pen at that desk, it’s important for them.

Q. Do we see dreams being analyzed and taking on sci-fi or surreal form?

A. I would say not. But what is amazing is the way these people spoke and thought in such intellectual, learned, abstract ways, and the dialogue reflects that. It’s based on letters and recollections from the time.

Q. What trademarks of yours does the film have? Is there violence?

A. There’s a little S & M. There definitely is a little S & M [laughs]. But I wouldn’t say that’s my trademark. I would say that intellect is my trademark, and there’s a lot of that. What I loved about Christopher Hampton’s script is that there’s no compromise in terms of delivering the intellect of these characters and the way they fought, and how it flowed, and how everything became referenced to sexuality and psychoanalysis, which they thought of as a medical procedure. They were so enthusiastic about it and so protective of it, and there were such struggles. Then of course there was the great split between Freud and Jung. I wanted to bring these people back to life. I never got to talk to Freud but I got to talk to Viggo playing Freud.

Q. Speaking of Viggo, you’ve now made three movies with him, and there may be a sequel to Eastern Promises. He’s become what the French call your acteur de fetiche. Why Viggo?

A. He wasn’t our first choice for Freud. It’s not the lead role in the movie, for example. We had gone to Christoph Waltz. In fact, Christoph pursued us—because his grandfather was a student of Freud apparently, and he really wanted to play that role. Since the movie was a co-production with Germany, his name meant a lot in terms of raising money—these are really perilous days for independent film—and he copped out basically to do a Hollywood movie [Water For Elephants]. So I phoned Viggo. I said, “I know that you weren’t interested in playing Freud but it’s come up for grabs again and I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you if you wanted to do it.” He said, “Let me look at the script,” and in two days he was doing it.

Q. So who is the lead?

Michael Fassbender [Hunger] plays Jung. He’s about to do X-Men, so he will soon have genre cred. He’s a terrific actor and he and Viggo got along absolutely great. Very light, terrific tone on the set. Keira [Knightley] is a brilliant actress. She blew everyone away. I’m telling you, she’s as good as anyone I’ve worked with, including Miranda Richardson and Lynn Redgrave and Judy Davis. You don’t realize it until you start to work with somebody. It was the same with Viggo when I first worked with him.

Q. She’s got a pretty lightweight reputation.

A. She’s a heavy dude.

Q. So will there be a sequel to Eastern Promises?

A. It’s hard to say. There is a script, a really good script that Steve Knight wrote. It’s the best first draft I’ve ever read of anything. But there are financing issues, issues of Focus [Pictures] survival and Comcast buying Universal and God knows what else. So I’m not sure yet how real it can be. It’s alive as a possibility.

Q. As for FanExpo, which celebrates horror, sci fi, comic books and so on—now that comic books are Hollywood’s blockbuster staple, what does that do to an art form that draws its cachet from being outside the mainstream?

A. It depends what art form you’re talking about. It’s obvious that comics have gotten more sophisticated, more politically aware, more technically sophisticated, and the fact they they’re more attractive to movie makers has helped them become that. I can see that the comic books have gotten better. Whether the comics have made the movies better is a whole other thing. It depends whether you think Iron Man I is fabulous filmmaking, or not.

Q. You must have your own opinion.

A. I have many opinions that I don’t express. Is it top-level filmmaking, is it top-level art? My answer to that is no, it’s not. On the other hand it’s really good mainstream entertainment and it’s pretty clever and intelligent, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not the art films of the 60s, but I don’t know if we’re going to see that any more.

Q. For someone who enjoys intellect, I imagine Robert Downey Jr. would be on your wish list of actors to work with, no?

A. He has been. But I think he’s probably out of reach now. He’s got three or four franchises going for himself. And I’m not sure that’s been good for him as an actor. I don’t know why I say that because I don’t know him. But you can become glib and you can fall back on some tics, and I’m starting to see a few of those in what he’s doing. Is that because he’s encouraged to do that by his directors, or not? I don’t know.

Q. Do you covet a franchise?

A. I wouldn’t mind doing the first of a franchise that happened to turn into one by accident. The second or third wouldn’t be that interesting.

Q. Are you a Girl With The Dragon Tattoo fan?

A. I was asked about doing that. Then I went to see the movie, the Swedish movie, and I thought, “No, it really should be called Men Who Hate Women,” which was the title of the book in Swedish. Because that’s what it’s about. It wasn’t an approach that appealed to me. Every man in that movie except the lead guy is a rapist and a misogynist, if not a murderer of women. And there’s something that’s not really being dealt with. I don’t know if the novels opened that out but there was something that really didn’t appeal to me. Once David Fincher got interested, they would have gone with him anyway. But there was a time when it was an open assignment and I turned it down.
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Post by Admin on Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:29 pm

http://www.tvsquad.com/2010/08/29/fan-expo-2010-day-2-stan-lee-cronenberg-adam-west/

The last panel of the day for me was with the incomparable director, David Cronenberg ('The Fly', 'Eastern Promises') . The Toronto resident has been a long-sought-after guest of honor for the Festival of Fear portion of the festivities and this year, his schedule and emotional state finally matched up with the weekend. "It's usually just a matter of timing," he said. "I kind of felt like I really wanted to get out and see people. It's not always scheduling timing, but it's emotional timing too. If you're feeling like you need to write and be alone, then you don't really feel like meeting a lot of people, but I was ready for this," he said.

He'd just came back from filming his next film, 'A Dangerous Method,' in Berlin. It stars Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud, Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung, and Kiera Knightley as Sabina Spielrein, the woman who comes between them.

"She started off as a patient of Jung's," said Cronenberg. "Really she was a passionate, intelligent, very creative woman who didn't have an outlet for any of those things, so it manifested itself as madness until she met Carl Jung. She was 18, he was about 29 and they had an affair. She became his mistress. It's the story of the three of them."

He was propelled not only by his fascination with those characters, but the opportunity to do a true story about real people. "The addition of Sabina made it come alive. A strange menage a trois. Not that Sabina ever slept with Freud, but she did leave to go study with Freud and to Jung that was like a total betrayal," said Cronenberg. "It was worse than sleeping with him."

The director highlighted the difficulty in getting independent films financed in the U.S. with production arms like Miramax and Warner Independent shutting down. 'A Dangerous Method' has 11 different funding sources, including TeleFilm Canada, German territories, and private donations, and Cronenberg's name doesn't actually move it towards the money any faster. "I was talking about this with Martin Scorsese not too long ago. Everybody thinks Martin Scorsese can get anything he wants, right? Not true, not at all true. He still has to fight, still has to struggle and so do I. There's no direct correlation between your name and financing," Cronenberg says. There are no guarantees and the more unique your film is, the greater the struggle."

He still feels he has more to say in the horror and sci-fi genres, but his interests have shifted a bit. "The fact that it was a horror film wouldn't stop me from doing it, as long as it was a terrific, unique, exciting thing," he insisted. The director's tastes are very eclectic. He played classical guitar and collected butterflies as a kid, and each movie he makes is a sharp turn from the last. But his body of work speaks for itself, which is why Rue Morgue Magazine (chief sponsor of The Festival of Fear) gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award. Cronenberg was totally taken aback by the honor.
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Post by Admin on Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:39 am

Cronenberg at a film festival in Canada. It's hard to listen to, but he talks about the story:

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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:33 am

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/david-cronenberg-how-20-million-231997

David Cronenberg on How the $20 Million 'Dangerous Method' Got Made
12:55 PM PDT 9/7/2011 by THR Staff

Issue 32 Cover Toronto Issue - P 2011
In the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter, the controversial filmmaker reveals which stars dropped out, the details behind a Viggo Mortensen casting coupe and how Martin Scorsese was scared to meet him.

David Cronenberg's films have a notorious reputation, with graphic sex and violence, outre images and disturbing themes. The Canadian parliament has called his work "disgusting" and one critic said his 1996 film Crash existed "beyond the bounds of depravity."

However, after visiting with the 68 year old Canadian director near his home in Toronto, The Hollywood Reporter's executive editor, feaures Stephen Galloway found him to be calm, courteous and downright mellow. His latest film, A Dangerous Method, stars Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud, Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung and Keira Knightley as their patient, Sabina Spielrein. The historical drama premiered at the Venice International Film Festival on Sept. 2 and has received strong reviews. It will be released in theaters by Sony Pictures Classics on Nov. 23.

Is this family man -- who works regularly with his wife, sister and grown daughter -- really the same filmmaker who once showed actress Samantha Eggar licking the amniotic fluid off her psychically-controlled killer dwarf offspring in The Brood?

Some of the surprising revelations from this week's THR cover story:

1. 'A DANGEROUS METHOD'S' ORIGINAL STARS, CHRISTIAN BALE AND CHRISTOPH WALTZ, DROPPED OUT
"Waltz waltzed and Bale bailed," Cronenberg said. Though the director is understanding of Bale's decision to withdraw without ever being formally attached, talk of Waltz' departure shakes the director's mellowness just the tiniest bit. "Christoph [had] pursued the project," he explains. "He came to me to convince me to take him as Freud; his grandfather had been a pupil of Freud. [After] Inglourious Basterds, all the German money was built around him, and when he bailed, a lot of that money went as well."

2. THE FILM COST $20 MILLION -- HIGH FOR AN ART HOUSE MOVIE
Financing came from three separate German entities; from presales arranged by producer Jeremy Thomas’ HanWay Films; and from Canada’s Telefilm and Universal Germany, among others — though all deals were still in play when shooting commenced. Cronenberg describes it this way: "It’s like a Frankenstein quilt: 15 entities were involved, and they all had to sign at the same moment." While Thomas notes: "Having the film start when you know you haven’t closed the finance, and greenlighting it when you are still in a nervous state, that is a very difficult, lonely moment for a producer."

PHOTOS: The Hollywood Reporter's Cover Stories Gallery

3. CRONENBERG HAD TO CALL IN A FAVOR TO GET MORTENSEN TO PLAY FREUD
Viggo Mortensen had worked with Cronenberg to great success on A History of Violence and earned an Oscar nomination for Eastern Promises. But the actor initially turned the director down when he was offered the part of Sigmund Freud. At the time, the actor said he was handling "problems with my parents' health and because I didn't picture myself playing Freud." After Fassbender and Knightley signed on, Cronenberg approached him again. This time he said yes.

4. THE GERMAN SHOOT WAS EASY COMPARED TO CRONENBERG'S EARLY FILM EXPERIENCE
With one of his first features, Scanners, Cronenberg had to witness the deaths of two women who had paused to watch filming from a highway. “They slowed down, and the guy behind them didn’t,” he recalls. The man’s car went straight over theirs. “My grip jumped over the fence and pulled the women out of the car, but they were dead, and that was our first day of shooting. I thought if I could survive that, I could survive anything.”

STORY: 10 Contenders Gunning for Oscars at Toronto Film Festival

5. MARTIN SCORSESE WAS SCARED TO MEET HIM
“He said he was terrified,” remembers Cronenberg. “He was serious. He had seen Shivers and Rabid and thought they were devastating. I said, ‘Marty, you’re the guy who made Taxi Driver!’ ”

6. HE'S ALREADY NEARLY FINISHED WITH HIS NEXT MOVIE
A Dangerous Method won't be released domestically until November, but the filmmaker is already at work editing his next movie, an adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel, Cosmopolis.

7. TED TURNER TRIED TO BURY 'CRASH'
In the case of Crash, which equates sex with violent car crashes, Ted Turner was so upset, he did everything to kill the movie’s release.The mogul, who owned the picture’s distributor, New Line, “wanted to destroy it,” Cronenberg says. “He and Jane [Fonda, his then-wife] had apparently screened the film and were appalled. But they wouldn’t tell me at New Line. I was planning to come down to do publicity and they said, ‘Don’t get on the plane. We’re going to delay the release.’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” Turner would relent.

8. CRONENBERG LOATHES HOLLYWOOD
The Toronto-based filmmaker turned down films such as Flashdance, Top Gun and Interview With a Vampire and worked through 12 drafts of Total Recall, adapted from the Phillip K. Dick short story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale before being told by producer Dino De Laurentiis, "'You know what you've done? You've done the Dick version. We wanted to do Raiders of the Lost Ark Go to Mars.'"

Read the complete THR cover story.
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:35 am

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/a-dangerous-method-david-cronenbergs-231818

'A Dangerous Method': David Cronenberg's Mild Manner and Outrageous Movies
12:37 PM PDT 9/7/2011 by Stephen Galloway

Bill Phelps
The man reviled in Canada's parliament, whose films were so troubling that Martin Scorsese was afraid to meet him, is a bookish intellectual whose new period piece, "A Dangerous Method," might be among his best yet.

In early 2010, David Cronenberg's dream of filming A Dangerous Method -- the real-life story of Sabina Spielrein, Carl Jung's lover, Sigmund Freud's follower and both men's patient -- came crashing to a halt.

The Canadian director learned by e-mail that Christoph Waltz was pulling out of playing Freud to shoot the much-bigger-budgeted Water for Elephants, even though Waltz had urged Cronenberg to cast him.

It was the second time a star had exited the movie (Christian Bale withdrew as Jung a year earlier), the kind of upheaval that would give most directors palpitations. But not Cronenberg.

"Waltz waltzed, and Bale bailed," he quips.

At 68, Cronenberg has become the essence of mellow -- helped by the fact that Method not only got made despite those stars' disappearances, with Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender in the leading roles, but also because the film is gaining awards buzz as one of the director's strongest in years. THR critic Todd McCarthy called it "precise, lucid and thrillingly disciplined," adding that it "breathtakingly [embraces] the dramatic dualities within humans."

On Sept. 2, the $20 million film premiered at Venice (where it gained an impressive 80% positive response from critics, according to RottenTomatoes.com) before set to screen Sept. 10 at the Toronto International Film Festival. And Sony Pictures Classics, which bought the movie for a Nov. 23 domestic release after seeing an early cut in March, clearly believes it has a winner on its hands.

"The depth of character and subject matter is astounding," says SPC co-president Michael Barker. "It's an amazing film -- very accessible, very intelligent, but also a major entertainment."

Casually dressed on this late August day in jeans and a black T-shirt, with graying hair, Cronenberg leans back in a comfortable chair in his windowless Toronto editing room (where he's already putting the finishing touches on his next movie, Cosmopolis, adapted from Don DeLillo's novel), untroubled by Method's history.

If he's relaxed, it's understandable -- not only because of the film's completion, but also because his nature is as calm and dispassionate as his films can be disconcerting.

The man who was reviled in Canada's parliament for his "disgusting" work, who was lambasted by critic Alexander Walker for making a movie "beyond the bounds of depravity" (1996's Crash), who became notorious for horror films showing exploding human heads (1981's Scanners) and stomachs with vagina-like maws (1983's Videodrome), who is arguably the most provocative and shameless director of our era -- Lars von Trier apart -- in real life is the epitome of gentility.

This is the same person whose films so troubled Martin Scorsese that the Oscar-winning director was afraid to meet him. "He said he was terrified," remembers Cronenberg. "He was serious. He had seen Shivers and Rabid and thought they were devastating. I said, 'Marty, you're the guy who made Taxi Driver!' "

He's unruffled by questions about whether he is the incarnation of evil, as he once jokingly urged a journalist to describe him. Or whether he and his wife, Carolyn Zeifman, who "runs the business," as Cronenberg describes his family life, had sex in front of the cast of 2005's A History of Violence, as Mortensen claimed. (No truth to it, he insists.)

Meet Cronenberg in person, just a short distance from his Toronto home, and his sheer courteousness -- making sure there's food and water for this reporter, concerned that a lightning storm the night before might have affected his flight from Los Angeles -- is in striking contrast to the director's work. That has veered from his stomach-churning horror films of the 1970s and '80s; through experimental work like 1988's Dead Ringers, 1991's Naked Lunch and Crash; to more accessible narratives such as 1986's The Fly, Violence and 2007's Eastern Promises.

Now he's taking a leap forward with his first turn-of-the-century drama, Method, an almost classical period piece whose greatest shock value comes in its revelations about Freud's and Jung's private lives.

There are no people having sex in crashing cars, no macabre twins, no gigantic centipedes or husbands shooting their wives. In their place are three intellectual giants locked in a complex relationship.

"It's essentially about people who are very intelligent, ambitious to be remembered and make their mark and also may be vulnerable to the point of being paranoid," observes Mortensen. "David doesn't shy away from the academic."

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Indeed, the film -- Cronenberg's most thoughtful, based on a script by Christopher Hampton -- might be closest to the ruminative figure he has been for decades, the man producer Jeremy Thomas calls "a professor."

"I was always an intellectual," says the director, a science student at the University of Toronto who switched to English and won awards for his short stories and who cites Fellini and Bunuel among his favorite filmmakers. "I was cerebral, a little bit arrogant. But I feel a complete smooth continuum from there to here."

♦♦♦♦♦

Cronenberg first heard of Spielrein -- who became Jung's patient at Switzerland's Burgholzli mental hospital in 1904, when she was about 19 -- after reading about Hampton's 2003 West End production The Talking Cure.

Hampton drew on John Kerr's 1994 biography A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, one of a slew of publications and films that followed the discovery of Spielrein's papers in the '70s.

Back then, the emergence of hospital records and a cache of letters shook the psychoanalytic establishment with the revelation that Spielrein, a young Russian, had embarked on an affair with the 29-year-old Jung after becoming his patient. Equally remarkable was the discovery that she had contributed to Freud's idea of Thanatos, a "death instinct," pivotal to his work, before dying during the Holocaust, shot in her native Rostov-on-Don by an SS death squad.

STORY: 10 Contenders Gunning for Oscars at the Toronto Film Festival

Intrigued, Cronenberg called Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons) and asked to work with him on a film. At first, the British writer hesitated, partly because he wanted to direct it himself and partly because of other commitments, before agreeing to write the screenplay. "I said, 'I'm not sure I can start right away,' " recalls Hampton, "and he said, 'Oh, I'll write it for you!' -- a wonderful method of galvanizing me."

Cronenberg wasn't the first filmmaker who'd been piqued by Spielrein's story. In addition to a documentary and biopic, 20th Century Fox had jumped on the bandwagon, commissioning Hampton to write a screenplay, Sabina, for Julia Roberts before he even wrote the play.

"When they saw it," Cronenberg notes wryly, "They said, 'There's no way Julia's going to do this!' " Indeed, the screenplay includes nudity and episodes of full-scale madness.

While the script Hampton would write for Cronenberg was substantially different from his Fox project, he still needed to get the underlying rights back before he could proceed.

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After a lengthy negotiation with Fox, Hampton and Cronenberg began to develop their new work, which Cronenberg slashed from 94 pages to 80. At the same time, producer Thomas embarked on a protracted search for money.

"These films that go to festivals, they have a very difficult birth, especially in terms of getting the resources to make them on a [large] scale," he notes. "The pursuit of excellence for its own sake isn't easy."

Raising the money was even less easy given the timing.

"This all came during the big financial meltdown everywhere; everyone was saying, 'That changes the landscape forever,' " Cronenberg says. "It was quite devastating. Even when we started shooting, there were documents still to be signed. It's like a Frankenstein quilt: 15 entities were involved, and they all had to sign at the same moment."

Bale's exit, followed by Waltz's, didn't help.

Cronenberg is more understanding of the former, who called him in person to apologize and who withdrew without ever being formally attached. But the director's mellowness is shaken just the tiniest bit by Waltz.

"Christoph [had] pursued the project," he explains. "He came to me to convince me to take him as Freud; his grandfather had been a pupil of Freud. [After] Inglourious Basterds, all the German money was built around him, and when he bailed, a lot of that money went as well."

Still, he says: "I've been through this before. There's no movie I've done where there hasn't been something like that."

With Fassbender on board to replace Bale as Jung and Knightley cast as Sabina, Cronenberg called Mortensen and asked him to take the part of Freud, which he had initially turned down while handling "problems with my parents' health and because I didn't picture myself playing Freud," the actor says.

This time he said yes. "The Freud in the story is not the Freud most people are accustomed to, the very thin, disease-ridden old man," he explains. "He was 50 and quite robust."

Mortensen believed he could pull him off, and so did the director. "That's the magic of casting," Cronenberg quips. "It's a black art."

Financing now came from three separate German entities; from presales arranged by Thomas' HanWay Films; and from Canada's Telefilm and Universal Germany, among others -- though all deals were still in play when shooting commenced.

"Having the film start when you know you haven't closed the finance, and greenlighting it when you are still in a nervous state, that is a very difficult, lonely moment for a producer," Thomas notes.

A 42-day shoot began May 26, 2010, in Cologne, Germany, using Lake Constance to stand for Lake Zurich, with some exteriors shot outside Freud's home in Vienna. Cronenberg was three days ahead of schedule just two days into filming, and the 99-minute film wrapped July 22.

"The shoot itself was a delight," he says. "The financing was a nightmare."

♦♦♦♦♦

Cronenberg has had other nightmares, far worse.

With one of his first features, Scanners, he had to witness the deaths of two women who had paused to watch filming from a highway. "They slowed down, and the guy behind them didn't," he recalls. The man's car went straight over theirs. "My grip jumped over the fence and pulled the women out of the car, but they were dead, and that was our first day of shooting. I thought if I could survive that, I could survive anything."

In the case of Crash, which equates sex with violent car crashes, Ted Turner was so upset, he did everything to kill the movie's release.

The mogul, who owned the picture's distributor, New Line, "wanted to destroy it," Cronenberg says. "He and Jane [Fonda, his then-wife] had apparently screened the film and were appalled. But they wouldn't tell me at New Line. I was planning to come down to do publicity and they said, 'Don't get on the plane. We're going to delay the release.' I said, 'Are you kidding me?' " Turner would relent.

With Total Recall, adapted from Philip K. Dick's short story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, he went through 12 drafts with screenwriter Ronald Shusett before realizing they and producer Dino De Laurentiis were on a different page. "At the end, Dino said: 'You know what you've done? You've done the Dick version. We wanted to do Raiders of the Lost Ark Go to Mars.' " (The 1990 picture, directed by Paul Verhoeven, earned $263 million worldwide.)

Cronenberg has frequently adapted the work of novelists like Dick, J.G. Ballard (Crash) and William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch), but mostly his adaptations have been drawn from avant-garde work the major studios would never be interested in. He has studiously kept his distance from Hollywood, preferring to live in his native Toronto and turning down films like Flashdance, Top Gun and Interview With the Vampire.

All this has added to his struggles, which have included the personal as well as the professional -- such as a bitter divorce from his first wife, Margaret Hindson, in 1977.

He won't talk about that, even though it spilled over into 1979's The Brood, where a character based on her is strangled -- something he once said he found "very satisfying." Today, all he admits is: "That was very difficult. I like being married and I take marriage seriously. That was a pretty disastrous thing to happen in my life."

For the past three decades, he has been married to Zeifman, who drew acclaim for her movie about the making of Violence. His sister Denise, a costume designer, and daughter Cassandra, an assistant director -- one of his three grown children -- work on his films.

Family-oriented as he is, there's a distance he maintains, an "objectivity that is maybe not what most people have," he says. "I am emotional, but I loathe sentimentality. In my life, I'm not as cool as all that."

Really? He hesitates. "Yes, no, yeah -- I think I'm as emotional as anybody else."

The son of a musician mother and journalist father who cherished books and even owned his own bookstore, he grew up in a heavily intellectual environment before entering film in the late 1960s when he formed the Toronto Film Co-op with Ivan Reitman and others.

"My father was one of the first people to have pieces of Ulysses in Toronto, because it was banned. He owned a bookstore during the Depression, called the Professor's Bookstore." Because his father sold "real books" as opposed to practical volumes, "he was a total failure as a businessman. We were very [much] at the lower end of the middle class in terms of money. But there was always music; we would have opera singers in the house, violinists."

His anarchic filmmaking "certainly didn't come from rebellion against my parents; they were very encouraging and very artistic and very cerebral," he says. "It was rock 'n' roll: The Eisenhower era was a very conservative, repressive era -- Elvis was very threatening to this, and I see parallels between that and Freud. Freud was considered so anarchic because he was saying, 'This is all a facade. Civilization is repression.' "

That's a notion Cronenberg doesn't dispute, though he says he hasn't personally experienced psychoanalysis or any kind of therapy: "I've never felt the need."

He is fascinated by Freud (despite the fact that some may find him arrogant and monomaniacal in the film) and might be amused to learn Mortensen drew on Cronenberg himself, to some degree, when he came to create Freud. Both men, the actor says, are driven by a strong work ethic and are "calm and able to make jokes -- whether you get them or not."

Cronenberg in fact is at his most emotional when he recounts Freud's twilight, as portrayed by the writer Stefan Zweig.

"It's heartbreaking, it's touching, because here's Freud in the last year of his life. He's got an artificial palate. [Zweig] expected to find him in bitterdom and depressed, but he was more excited and happy and exhilarated than he had ever seen him."

Rather like Cronenberg today.

The one-time pariah has become exalted in his own country. The man whose film Turner tried to annihilate has been lionized by the international moviemaking community and is adored by those who work with him.

He bicycles, rides a Vespa, loves nature, expresses revulsion at the idea he might deliberately set out to shock or offend. Indeed, when Cannes president Gilles Jacob told him he wanted Crash to "explode like a bomb" in the middle of the festival, it was the antithesis of Cronenberg's own notions.

"I don't think, 'I want my films to explode like a bomb' -- I don't think in those terms," says this iconoclastic filmmaker, who's the least iconoclastic of human beings. "I don't need to be reviled in order to feel vindicated in my outsider-ness."

FAVORITE FILMS

A Place in the Sun (1951)
Seven Samurai (1954)
La Dolce Vita (1960)
8½ (1963)
Don’t Look Now (1973)
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:49 pm

http://jam.canoe.ca/Movies/Film_Festivals/Toronto/2011/News/2011/09/11/18669896.html

Sunday | September 11, 2011
News
Cronenberg deals with runaway actors
Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

David Cronenberg (QMI Agency)

Here's an example of what Carl Jung would call synchronicity.

Years ago, David Cronenberg was in unsuccessful negotiations to direct the original Total Recall (the one that would star Arnold Schwarzenegger).

In the last few years, the controversial Canadian auteur has suffered a spate of runaway actors. Christian Bale and Christoph Waltz both bailed as Sigmund Freud in his psychodramamatic triangle A Dangerous Method (Viggo Mortensen ultimately played Freud).

This summer, as Cronenberg prepared to unveil Method and begin filming Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis, Colin Farrell quit the latter movie at the last minute for a role in ... the remake of Total Recall.

"Jung would say there are no coincidences," says a bemused Cronenberg, who ultimately hired Twilight's Robert Pattinson to replace Farrell. "To make it even weirder, Total Recall had (Toronto) studios right across from where we did Cosmopolis."

For all that Jungian spookiness, Cronenberg is on Team Freud on the occasion of the TIFF release of A Dangerous Method, what he calls "an intellectual triangle" between Freud, Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and the psychiatric-patient-turned-analyst (Keira Knightley) who becomes Jung's lover and Freud's protégé.

Cronenberg hears the surprised cries of some fans over his latest work, a gentle, languidly moving piece, much of which takes place in bright sunshine on the gentle shores of Lake Zurich. But for Knightley getting the occasional spanking, and a few other moments of kink, you might think you were watching a Merchant-Ivory movie.

Cronenberg protests that, yes, A Dangerous Method is a Cronenberg movie.

"People analyze my movies a lot, so this is me analyzing my movie for them," he muses, "at least for people who say this doesn't seem like a Cronenberg movie. I say, it feels like me to me, so how can that be?

"Freud insisted on the human body at a time when the human body was not generally spoken about. He talked about penises and anuses and vaginas and excrement and incest, and that was at a Victorian time when these things were suppressed."

Now THAT sounds like a Cronenberg movie.

As it turns out, Cronenberg has had a lifelong interest in the intimately close relationship between the two ultimately opposing psychiatric icons.

What he didn't know about was the remarkable woman they had in common, a Russian Jew named Sabina Spielrein that is, until he read the play by Christopher Hampton that was eventually transformed into a screenplay.

"It's only in 1977 that her existence was spotlighted," Cronenberg says. "They discovered this cache of letters in the University of Geneva and they discovered what an influence she was on both Freud and Jung."

In fact, the project's been kicking around so long, it was once considered for Julia Roberts.

That it worked out now, in Cronenberg's estimation, is an example of "casting as a Dark Art.

"I've got Freud, I've got Jung, Michael Fassbender who I've never worked with before, Keira who I've never worked with before. I have to imagine the chemistry they will have onscreen, even though I won't see them together until I'm actually directing them.

"But the story has a happy ending because they had terrific chemistry and we also had great fun on the set, which is also a great indicator."

And then there's Mortensen, certainly the most physically imposing Sigmund Freud to ever insinuate itself on the public imagination.

"That's the beauty of acting," Cronenberg says. "Sure, we gave him a false nose, dark contact lenses and he gained 25 pounds and grew a beard. But still, he delivers a Freud I hadn't seen onscreen.

"We know him as old and frail, but at the time (1904), he was charismatic and forceful and seductive and was described as that in literature of the times."

jim.slotek@sunmedia.ca
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:54 pm

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/tiff/interviews-and-features/cronenberg-on-switching-gears-for-a-dangerous-method/article2161477/

Cronenberg on switching gears for 'A Dangerous Method'
liam lacey
Globe and Mail Update
Published Sunday, Sep. 11, 2011 4:21PM EDT
Last updated Sunday, Sep. 11, 2011 4:28PM EDT

The patient, a youthful 68, exhibits signs of confidence and relaxation that seem to contradict a known history of concern with unsavoury, morbid and unwholesome subjects associated with body mutilation, sexual punishment and repression. The doctor recommends further investigation.

Yes, David Cronenberg has done something rather shocking: He’s made his first elegant and fairly conventional biopic, A Dangerous Method, about the birth pangs of psychoanalysis.

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 10: Director David Cronenberg of 'A Dangerous Method' poses for a portrait during the 2011 Toronto Film Festival at the Guess Portrait Studio on September 10, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.

Talking about his film from a wingback chair in a hotel suite in Toronto, he calls his latest opus – appearing at the Toronto International Film Festival fresh from screenings at festivals in Venice and Telluride – an “intellectual ménage a trois.” The movie depicts the relationship between Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), his wayward protégé Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) – a Russian-Jewish student and patient of Jung’s, who, since the discovery of her papers in the 1970s and 80s, has emerged as a significant link between the two giants of psychiatry.

No doubt, all this is a change of pace for the director once dubbed the Baron of Blood.

“Criminals and low-lifes are fun,” says Cronenberg, referring to his last two films, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. But he says making a film about these erudite, articulate people was a different kind of challenge – a movie where every form of behaviour is out in the open and scrutinized.

Cronenberg says he’d never call himself a Freudian – “I don’t think in those schematic terms” – but says he’s been influenced by Freud, admires him and “unlike a lot of people who express opinions about Freud, have actually read him.”

It’s Freud’s mental clarity and elegance as a literary stylist that Cronenberg admires, and A Dangerous Method is in that same spirit. There was enough material here for a miniseries or a 10-part movie, he says, but it has been rigorously filtered and distilled by screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons, Atonement).

Of course, this couldn’t be a Cronenberg film without some hair-raising threat of violence. That threat is portrayed early, as we see Knightley’s character brought by a carriage pulled by galloping black horses to the entrance of Burgholzli, the psychiatric complex of the University of Zurich in Switzerland. An 18-year-old on a family trip to Switzerland, Spielrein was admitted to the clinic with “hysterical psychosis,” a now-archaic diagnosis.

To date, Knightley has been known as something of an English rose with roles in such films as Atonement and Pride and Prejudice. But A Dangerous Method should shake all that up. From the film’s beginning, she thrashes about like a captured wild animal, jaw thrust forward, as she struggles to wrench out words. It’s a daring performance, though one that has drawn both praise and doubts from early reviews.

Cronenberg acknowledges that, to some degree, the depiction of hysteria was “a built-in problem” but is absolute in his defence of Knightley’s performance.

“The idea that her performance was bad at the beginning and then became good – well, no.”

He describes Knightley as an actress of “great range” who was capable of the particular physical effect of thrusting her jaw forward violently – an outward manifestation of someone struggling to be heard and “an inexpensive special effect.”

In fact, Cronenberg says this depiction of Spielrein’s behaviour is restrained. “I’ve seen film clips of women who were diagnosed with hysteria,” he says. “They’re unwatchable.”

His argument is backed up by notes of Spielrein’s admission to the clinic: “Patient laughs and cries in a strangely mixed, compulsive manner. Masses of tics; she rotates her head jerkily, sticks out her tongue, twitches her legs.”

Those observations were made by the young doctor Carl Jung, who treated the patient, and, apparently, subsequently became her lover, despite having a pregnant wife at home.

During the period he was seeing Spielrein, Jung met Sigmund Freud, whom he had long admired. The two men bonded intensely. Six years later, though, they were no longer talking – a paradoxical development in the early history of the psychological method know as “the talking cure.”

For her part, Spielrein subsequently sought out Freud, and may have provided him with some of his most important insightsabout the relationship between sex and death.

For Cronenberg, all three are part of a story not just about pioneers in psychiatry, but about love – which started with Freud’s recognition that the relationship between the psychiatrist and the patient is an intimate one.

“There is sex involved between Jung and Sabina but not between Sabina and Freud. But there is love amongst all of them. In fact, there is love between Jung and Freud. It is a love story among three people – an unusual one because they are so incredibly articulate and verbal and observant and obsessive about the details of their lives and emotions.”
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:54 pm

http://www.canada.com/health/David+Cronenberg+goes+into+mind+movie+about+psychiatry/5385307/story.html

David Cronenberg goes into the mind for his new movie about psychiatry


By Jay Stone, Postmedia News September 11, 2011 Be the first to post a comment



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Director David Cronenberg speaks during the news conference for "A Dangerous Method" during the 36th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, September 10, 2011.

Director David Cronenberg speaks during the news conference for "A Dangerous Method" during the 36th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, September 10, 2011.
Photograph by: Mark Blinch, Reuters

TORONTO — David Cronenberg is the first person to admit that his new film, A Dangerous Method, doesn't seem very, well, Cronenberg-like.

The movie looks at the early years of Sigmund Freud (played by frequent collaborator Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender). The two psychiatrists were at odds over their different approaches to the human mind, a debate that was made more fraught — and sexual — with the appearance of Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a real-life patient of Jung's, and later his mistress. Sabina, who went on to become a famous psychiatrist in her own right, was a masochist who liked to be spanked.

The heart of the movie lies in the intellectual debate, a theme that seems removed from Cronenberg's longtime interest in the body, starting with early horror films like Shivers and Rabid and extending into the more sophisticated metaphors of The Fly and Crash.

"It sounds like a strange project," Cronenberg said the morning after A Dangerous Method had its premiere at the Toronto film festival. "People say this isn't a very Cronenberg-like movie, and I think it feels like one to me. What's the difference?"

He finds it in the approaches of the two men at the dawn of psychiatry at the turn of the last century.

"I think Freud insisted on the reality of the human body, in a time that was very Victorian and very repressive," the director said. "Freud talked about penises and vaginas and anuses and excrement. He talked about child abuse and incest. It was very revolutionary at the time, very disturbing and very disruptive what he was saying. But it all had to do with the human body as the focus."

But it was a more Jungian approach — more to do with the mystical connections of coincidence — that led him to A Dangerous Method in the first place.

It started when Ralph Fiennes was appearing in the Christopher Hampton play The Talking Cure, on which the film was based. Cronenberg was interested because Fiennes had starred in his film Spider, so he read the play.

"At that point, in retrospect anyway, it made me realize that I'd always wanted to do a movie about Freud and the birth about psychoanalysis," he said.

He was especially engaged by Hampton's approach. For one thing, the story included Sabina, a mostly forgotten influence who turns out to be central to the field.

"To say I'd like to do a movie about Freud isn't really saying much because he had such a long and complex life with lots of people in it, so how do you do that?" Cronenberg said. "Suddenly here is this beautiful intellectual menage a trois. And this startling new character Sabina who I'd never heard of. It had a beautiful structure, it was dramatic, distilled — a manageable and accurate dramatic structure out of something chaotic and tumultuous and full of many many characters — quite brilliant."

It also gave him the chance to portray a Freud rarely seen in pictures: not the frail, thin, cancer-ridden old man of the popular imagination, but a vital and handsome man of 50 at the height of his powers: "Handsome and masculine, charismatic, witty, incisive, seductive. All these things. I thought we'd have to cast it in not the usual way that people cast Freud."

It eventually fell to Mortensen, whose relationship with Cronenberg includes starring roles in Eastern Promises and A History of Violence. The men are also friends; indeed, later, over a cup of herbal tea that he brews in a pot that he carries, Mortensen said his research uncovered a Freud whose wit and eloquence reminded him of no one so much as David Cronenberg. "In terms of irony and the conversational skills, I had them all in front of me every day."

Whatever the Freudian (or Jungian) implications of that, it results in a film that alternates between the perverse affair of Jung and Sabina and scenes of intellectual debate between Jung and Freud. It's another aspect that feels different from his usual movies, but Cronenberg says watching two men in a room discussing issues is, in fact, very cinematic.

"Despite CG and alien invasions and stuff, the thing you see most on screen is the human face," he said. "To me that's cinema. And then its becomes a question of the dynamism and the lighting and the acting and all that stuff that is cinema and not theatre."

He disputes the idea that dialogue is innately theatrical; indeed, Hampton's play was originally written as a screenplay called Sabina that was to have starred Julia Roberts. When that fell through, it became a play on its way to the screen.

"To me the most difficult thing as a director is two people in a room," Cronenberg said. "It always has been. It's not actually hard to shoot cars crashing. And I've done that too. That to me is not so hard as really getting into the details of two people in a room. The way they move around the room. The significance of their moves. To me, that's pure cinema."
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Post by Admin on Sat Sep 17, 2011 11:48 pm

http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/09/13/paging-dr-freud-david-cronenberg-takes-the-directors-chair-for-a-dangerous-method/

Paging Dr. Freud: David Cronenberg takes the director’s chair for A Dangerous Method

Chris Knight Sep 13, 2011 – 8:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Sep 13, 2011 5:07 PM ET

Tim Fraser for National Post

A Dangerous Method director David Cronenberg

“All friendships evolve one way or the other,” Viggo Mortensen says. “Ours keeps getting better.”

He’s talking about his relationship with director David Cronenberg, now on its third film with A Dangerous Method. It’s the story of a less salubrious friendship, between Sigmund Freud (Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), and the effect on them both of a patient, Sabrina Spielrein (Keira Knightley).

The Viggo-David collaboration (Mortensen-Cronenberg sounds too much like a law firm) is just one of several examples of TIFF films by directors who have found an actor worth coming back to.

“I think it was a relief for David to cast someone he knew,” Mortensen says. “For me, it was comforting, especially playing a role where I had so much dialogue.”

Mortensen even detected parallels in temperament between the father of modern psychoanalysis and Canada’s progenitor of body horror movies. Not the ones you might expect, however. “The sense of humour, the intelligence, the warmth,” Mortensen says. “It was helpful to have someone like David there; I had a model there all the time.”

Says Cronenberg: “I had confidence that he could and would be able to deliver the Freud of my dreams, which was not everybody’s Freud. Most people think of Freud as this frail, cancer-ridden 80-year-old. But this is a different Freud; this is a Freud at the age of 50, in the prime of his life, at the peak of his powers.” It also helped that the U.S. actor had a Danish passport, since the Canada/Germany co-production could only hire Canadians and Europeans.

Cronenberg won’t go as far to as call Mortensen his muse, however. “I’d be happy to do every movie with him, but if it’s not a role that would really be great for him then we’re not helping each other.” (Cronenberg’s next film, for instance, Cosmopolis, is Viggo-free.)

He’s come to count on Mortensen’s excessive research, however. “I know I’m going to get a phone call from him and he’s in the Czech Republic standing in front of the birthplace of Freud. And then the next time I get an email he’s in Hampstead in London at the Freud museum and he’s sitting in Freud’s real chair.”

Mortensen arrived on the set with antiques books he’d purchased in Vienna, and having learned to write (in German!) with Freudian penmanship, a skill he uses on camera. “That takes real dedication,” Cronenberg says. “If he gives me that it means I can do a shot like the one I did. When you’ve got a guy who does that it makes your life a lot easier.”

Fassbender, in addition to co-starring in Cronenberg’s film, appears at the festival in Shame, his second collaboration with British filmmaker Steve McQueen. The story of a sex-addicted New Yorker struggling to connect with others won Fassbender the best-actor prize at the Venice film festival.

Asked to compare and contrast Cronenberg and McQueen, Fassbender says he’d rather talk about their similarities. “Both are very intelligent men with high standards for themselves and those around them. They like to collaborate.”

Fassbender was a relative unknown when he starred in McQueen’s first film, Hunger, a raw drama about Irish political prisoner and hunger striker Bobby Sands. Since then he’s made Inglourious Basterds and starred in Centurion and X-Men: First Class.

“Steve changed my life, simple as that,” he says. “I want to work with this guy and learn from him.”

McQueen, a cagey interview subject, will only say “possibly” when asked if Fassbender might have a role in his next film, Twelve Years a Slave, which is set in New York in the 1800s. But he notes that in making Hunger, “both of us were taking chances, taking risks. And we want to continue doing that.”

One of the smaller films at TIFF this year is a low-budget comedy with the somewhat overwhelming title Doppelganger Paul *or A Film About How Much I Hate Myself. Co-directors Kris Elgstrand and Dylan Akio Smith say their star, Brad Dryborough, is very much a muse.

Says Smith: “I’ve always gravitated towards this Coen brothers quote where they say: We like to put our characters up a tree and then throw rocks at them until they come down. And I think we’re the same way. In some ways we really like to torture Brad. I think Kris … writes with Brad in mind.”

Elgstrand met Dryborough in 2000 through a mutual friend and instantly liked him as an actor. “Brad just connects deeply with [the material] and there’s very little attempt to force it in a particular direction. He just sort of inhabits it. There’s a simplicity and a deep commitment.”

He adds: “I’ve written scripts for other people; I’ve been hired to write things. I’m not completely lost without Brad. But when it’s my personal stuff I love having Brad there.”

A critical darling at this year’s festival is The Artist, a silent, black-and-white film by French filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius. He previously worked with his star, Jean Dujardin, in a pair of comedy-adventure films.

“He’s one of the rare actors who is as good in closeup as in wide shot,” says the director. “He’s able to be very expressive with very interior acting in closeup – and in wide shot he has to use his body language.”

The Artist also stars Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller, a young ingénue. “Both of them are ageless faces,” Hazanavicius says. “They are really believable as people in movies from the twenties.”

He then mentions that Bejo is also his wife. Sometimes a muse is just a muse; sometimes it’s a little more.

cknight@nationalpost.com
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Post by Admin on Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:26 am

http://www.calgaryherald.com/entertainment/Mental+menage+trois+seduced+director/5392768/story.html

Mental menage a trois seduced director

Cronenberg's latest explores Freudian conflict

By Jay Stone, Postmedia News September 13, 2011

David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method is about the conflicting ideas of Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Jung (Michael Fassbender).

David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method is about the conflicting ideas of Freud (Viggo Mortensen) and Jung (Michael Fassbender).
Photograph by: Tim Fraser For Postmedia News, Postmedia News

David Cronenberg is the first person to admit that his new film, A Dangerous Method, doesn't seem very, well, Cronenberg-like.

The movie looks at the early years of Sigmund Freud (played by frequent collaborator Viggo Mortensen) and Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender). The two psychiatrists were at odds over their approaches to the human mind, a debate that was made more fraught - and sexual - with the appearance of Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a real-life patient of Jung's, and later his mistress. Sabina, who went on to become a famous psychiatrist in her own right, was a masochist who liked to be spanked.

The heart of the movie lies in the intellectual debate, a theme that seems removed from Cronenberg's longtime interest in the body, starting with early horror films like Shivers and Rabid and extending into the more sophisticated metaphors of The Fly and Crash.

"It sounds like a strange project," Cronenberg said the morning after A Dangerous Method had its premiere at the Toronto film festival. "People say this isn't a very Cronenberg-like movie, and I think it feels like one to me. What's the difference?"

He finds it in the approaches of the two men at the dawn of psychiatry.

"I think Freud insisted on the reality of the human body, in a time that was very Victorian and very repressive," the director said.

"Freud talked about penises and vaginas and anuses and excrement. He talked about child abuse and incest. It was very revolutionary at the time, very disturbing and very disruptive what he was saying. But it all had to do with the human body as the focus."

But it was a more Jungian approach - more to do with the mystical connections of coincidence - that led him to A Dangerous Method in the first place.

It started when Ralph Fiennes was appearing in the Christopher Hampton play The Talking Cure, on which the film was based.

Cronenberg was interested because Fiennes had starred in his film Spider, so he read the play.

"At that point, in retrospect anyway, it made me realize that I'd always wanted to do a movie about Freud and the birth about psychoanalysis," he said.

He was especially engaged by Hampton's approach. For one thing, the story included Sabina, a mostly forgotten influence who turns out to be central to the field.

"To say I'd like to do a movie about Freud isn't really saying much because he had such a long and complex life with lots of people in it, so how do you do that?" Cronenberg said.

"Suddenly here is this beautiful intellectual menage a trois. And this startling new character Sabina who I'd never heard of.

"It had a beautiful structure, it was dramatic, distilled - a manageable and accurate dramatic structure out of something chaotic and tumultuous and full of many, many characters - quite brilliant."

It also gave him the chance to portray a Freud rarely seen in pictures: not the frail, thin, cancer-ridden old man of the popular imagination, but a vital and handsome man of 50 at the height of his powers: "Handsome and masculine, charismatic, witty, incisive, seductive. All these things. I thought we'd have to cast it in not the usual way that people cast Freud."

It eventually fell to Mortensen, whose relationship with Cronenberg includes starring roles in Eastern Promises and A History of Violence. The men are also friends; indeed, later, over a cup of herbal tea that he brews in a pot that he carries, Mortensen said his research uncovered a Freud whose wit and eloquence reminded him of no one so much as David Cronenberg.

"In terms of irony and the conversational skills, I had them all in front of me every day," Mortensen said.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
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Post by Admin on Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:13 am

http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/archives/david_cronenberg_says_a_dangerous_method_is_an_intellectual_menage_a_trois/

David Cronenberg Says ‘A Dangerous Method’ Is An “Intellectual Ménage à Trois”
Still Hoping To Make ‘Eastern Promises 2’ With Viggo Mortensen


It has been a very busy fall so far for David Cronenberg. His latest film “A Dangerous Method” has been traveling the globe, premiering at the end of August at the Venice Film Festival, going to Telluride and then TIFF last month for its North American debut and now, hitting the New York Film Festival. For a director whose filmography generally displays a tendency towards the freakier end of the spectrum, his new movie is bit straighter than we’re used to from Cronenberg. Starring Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley, the film centers on the relationship between Carl Jung (Fassbender) and Russian-Jewish patient Sabina Spielrein (Knightley), which turns sexual, ultimately causing a rift between Jung and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Mortensen), but also catalyzing strong findings in regards to Jungian psychoanalysis.

We recently had a chance to speak with David Cronenberg at the New York Film Festival and he revealed that it was Christopher Hampton‘s play, which serves as the foundation, which opened the door into the story the director had long wanted to tell. “I’ve always wanted to do a movie about Freud and the birth of psychoanalysis, but to say that is of course to say nothing, because there’s no structure in that,” he explained. “But [with this play], suddenly there is a structure. And this was my first introduction to Sabina and she is part of what I call an ‘intellectual menage a trois,’ and that structure was terrific—the span of it, the relationship between Freud and Jung that went over six or seven years.”

“So here’s this wonderful structure with this incredible character Sabina who I had never heard of and that’s really what drew me to the story,” Cronenberg added. Indeed, the dimension that Sabina brings to the relationship between Freud and Jung provides a fascinating entry into the common and conflicting mindsets between the two great psychoanalysts.

But if you think Cronenberg will get a chance to rest after these press rounds are over, guess again. The ever busy helmer is already in post-production on his next film, “Cosmopolis,” starring Robert Pattinson and while he’s not yet decided on his next film after that, the long talked about “Eastern Promises 2” still remains on the table. When we spoke with Viggo Mortensen at TIFF he said about the project, “I think that’s still a possibility, but something we’ll definitely do [together] I’m sure and I’m looking forward to it already, whatever it is.” And when we asked Cronenberg directly, he revealed that it’s very much in development.

“We’re trying,” Cronenberg said when asked if he and Viggo would return for a sequel. “Steven Knight has written one draft, he’s working on another one. Focus Features is interested and Viggo is interested so, we’ll see.” But either way, Cronenberg and Mortensen will find a way to keep their working relationship going.

“Oh yeah,” Cronenberg said emphatically when asked if they’d collaborate again regardless of whether “Eastern Promises 2” gets made. “We figure we will reunite [on something eventually].” We’ll have more from this interview soon, but for now, if you’re in New York, “A Dangerous Method” plays NYFF this week and hits theaters in limited release starting November 23rd.

Kevin Jagernauth posted to Directors, David Cronenberg, Film Festivals, New York Film Festival, Films, A Dangerous Method, Interview at 1:07 pm on October 3, 2011
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Post by Admin on Sun Oct 09, 2011 9:21 pm

http://www.newsonwall.com/350/ralph-fiennes-and-david-cronenberg-to-receive-bfi-honour/

Ralph Fiennes and David Cronenberg to receive BFI honour
Posted by Larissa Edwards On Thursday, October 6th 2011

English actor turned director Ralph Fiennes (who played in “The English Patient”, “Schindler’s List”, “The Duchess”, “The Reader”) and Canadian director and actor David Cronenberg (known for films including “Cosmopolis”, “A Dangerous Method”, “Eastern Promises”, “A History of Violence”) are to receive BFI’s highest honour at this year’s London Film Festival on October 26. The prestigious festival takes place between 12 –27 October.

Cronenberg’s latest film, “A Dangerous Method”, will premiere at this year's LFF, as well as Fiennes’ directing debut, “Coriolanus”. Fiennes plays the part of Coriolanus, along a distribution including actors Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave and James Nesbitt. This contemporary adaption of Shakespeare's Roman drama was filmed over eight weeks in Serbia. “A Dangerous Method”, a German/Canadian co-production which stars Keira Knightley, Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen, is about the difficult relationships between inexperienced psychiatrist Carl Jung, his mentor Sigmund Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, the troubled but beautiful young woman who comes between them.

Upon finding out about the award, Cronenberg said: “British cinema has been a potent inspiration for me and to be associated with this particular group of filmmakers is tremendously exhilarating.” Fiennes said he was “extremely honoured and delighted” to receive the award.

This year’s jury to choose the winner for Best Film prize includes actress Gillian Anderson, director John Madden, director and script writer Asif Kapadia, producer Tracey Seaward, script writer Andrew O’Hagan and director Sam Taylor Wood. The nine in-competition films are “360”, directed by Fernando Meirelles, “Faust” by Alexander Sokurov, “Shame” from British director Steve McQueen, “The Deep Blue Sea” by Terence Davies, Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants”, “The Artist” by Michel Hazanavicius, “Trishna” by Michael Winterbottom, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” - Lynne Ramsay, and “The Kid with a Bike” by Cannes favourites Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne.

Other actors who received the BFI Fellowship in the past are Lord Attenborough, Sir Michael Caine, Clint Eastwood, Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorsese and Dame Maggie Smith. This year’s Fellowships will be presented on 26 October. Meanwhile, British director Stephen Frears will receive a lifetime achievement award from the European Film Academy at the 24th European Film Awards Ceremony on 3 December 2011 in Berlin.
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Post by Admin on Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:52 pm

http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/151122-revelations-and-resurrections-david-cronenberg-on-a-dangerous-method

Revelations and Resurrections: David Cronenberg on 'A Dangerous Method'
By Christopher Sweetapple 18 November 2011
A Dangerous Method Countdown: Day Two

When it comes to Freud and psychoanalytic insights, it seems everyone’s an expert nowadays. The ego, the superego, the unconscious, the Oedipal complex, castration anxiety, the anal stage,The Interpretation of Dreams...These are all familiar enough to be everyday terms or Jeopardy! answers. Freud himself worried openly about the public reception of his work, fearing conceptual dilution in the telephone game rely between the scientific discourse he thought to be founding and the social shape it took in its dissemination.

This fear of Freud’s—or, this accurate prediction, as it turned out—is worked into the wonderful script of A Dangerous Method, by Christopher Hampton. And in the hands of Canadian director David Cronenberg, received wisdom and lame cliches about psychoanalysis and the Freudian legacy are thankfully confronted, even upended.

cover art
A Dangerous Method
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Sarah Gadon, Vincent Cassel

Making a dramatic story out of Freud’s life and work has been surprisingly difficult for many writers. John Huston’s mostly forgotten Freud (1962) took the tack of dramatizing Freud’s early career. I don’t think it unfair to call that movie a yawn-fest. Maybe because the script was so overburdened by all the cooks in the kitchen (Jean-Paul Sartre is credited with a draft that was many hours longer than the final version), or maybe because that time in Freud’s work isn’t as interesting as other periods of time—who knows? But A Dangerous Method it certainly is not.

If Freud has been hard to turn into a coherent, digestible story, Carl Jung’s life and work would seem to present even more problems. Jungian concepts are obtuse. His (in)famous mysticism and religiosity color his esoteric texts. At least with Freudian (whatever that means) therapy, most people have a (mind you: simplified, maybe even false) idea of what to expect. But what’s Jungian therapy even about?

In telling this particular story of Freud and Jung, writer Hampton had a big help: history, recorded in lost correspondence and piled under the debris of the Holocaust. Author John Kerr’s path-breaking book A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein (1994) dug deep into the letters and records of Freud and Jung in the early years of the 20th century. There, Kerr reassembled an excised chapter of the story of psychoanalysis: Sabina Spielrein. Her own papers were thought to have been destroyed after her execution at the hands of a German Einsatzgruppe in Russia, but miraculously resurfaced.

First patient, then lover, then colleague to Jung, and known personally by Freud, Spielrein is shown to have contribute directly to the formation of several key psychoanalytic topics, like Freud’s death drive and Jung’s view on masculine and feminine psychic forces. She even, apparently, had a hand in the psychoanalytic training of Jean Piaget, famous developmental psychologist. And saying she had an intimate place among psychoanalysis’ two biggest stars, Freud and Jung, is an understatement. Hampton, drawing on Kerr’s book and his own extensive research, penned a play and then adapted it for this film’s script. And with the material at hand, the problem with rendering the story of psychoanalysis is not a lack of drama. There’s plenty of that to go around. Instead, it’s finding that balance between telling the story accurately while also confronting the audience’s preconceptions about the material.

Lucky for Hampton, Cronenberg is just the right auteur for a job requiring economic story-telling and thoughtful confrontation of audience expectations. Isn’t a movie like this just destined to be made by Cronenberg? The quality and consistency of his work is nearly unparalleled when compared with many of his contemporaries. (This is, after all, the year of David Lynch’s Crazy Clown Time.) While A Dangerous Method is unique among his other films, it addresses many of the core issues which concern Cronenberg. If we had to point to a foundational issue in Cronenbergian cinema, it’s the body. As he explained to PopMatters below, “Freud insisted on the reality of the human body, which is where I connect with him greatly.” Carnality haunts every Cronenberg film, and this holds true for A Dangerous Method.

For me, what sets A Dangerous Method apart from many of Cronenberg’s other movies is the level of carnality explored. This film pursues the flesh askance, not through violence (there’s some, very brief) or sex (there is a good amount of that, but no quasi-marital-rape on a staircase, here). Rather, flesh is mediated by and accessed through writing and speech. This film is a deep consideration of the materiality of language. Here, words are exchanged, uttered, yanked out, ventriloquized, stifled, constantly read from the page or made to have revelatory effects. Communication is eroticized; language is burdened with the power to heal and wound. In what follows, David Cronenberg discusses the film, Freud and Jung as heroes, the horrors of World War One and the reality of hysteria, among many other interesting things.

PopMatters: Hello, Mr. Cronenberg!

David Cronenberg: Hello there!

I thought we could begin talking about, well, the beginning of the film, the title sequence.

Yes, great.

Your title sequences are always very thoughtful and speak directly to the mood and theme of the your films. For A Dangerous Method, we see images of pen strokes and what looks like paper, but no words reveal themselves. I wonder why you chose this striking way to begin the film, showing words with no words?

I wanted not to have the audience distracted from the credits by reading, of course. But with that I wanted to suggest that letter-writing was a crucial part of the relationships of the people that you’re going to see. And beyond that, that letter-writing is where our movie has come from, really. Because so much of the dialogue and the actions and details of everything are embedded in the letters that these people wrote. It was an era of letter-writing.

In Vienna, there were five to eight mail deliveries every day. So if you wrote somebody in the morning, you absolutely expected to get an answer from somebody by the end of the day. So, emails, they’re not a new thing, in a sense. Plus, the graciousness of the pen strokes. I wanted them to be as abstract as possible. Because penmanship was very artful back then. To be a cultured person, you had to have beautiful penmanship.

Speaking of the research done before the film then, about the letters between these principle characters. What was investigating that, reading those letters, like?

Well it was fantastic! Incredibly exciting. It’s shocking at how modern it feels at times what Freud and Jung wrote each other. And how intimate the two men—one 29, the other 50—professionals, medical men, but writing the most intimate stuff, in an era that was so repressed and repressive. It did not encourage that sort of thing. They were really in the vanguard of something that was considered quite disruptive and dangerous and revolutionary, in the bad sense.

In your reading of those letters, did you see their personalities emerge?

Oh definitely. Read the letters and you can feel the clear differences in their characters. But the interesting thing is that both Freud and Jung were considered two of the most beautiful writers of the German language. In a pure literary sense, their writing, even in these letters, is exquisite, wonderful.

Do you read German?

I do not. But Christopher does. But you can tell from a good translation, the elegance and the… You know, people think they know Freud, and they think they know Jung. And they think Freud was all about sex. But what people don’t know is just how aware of everything he was. He knew the flaws in his own thinking. He was quite capable in addressing those, and changing his philosophy over the course of time as his understanding grew and grew.

And as he explored so many topics, from art history to anthropology to…

Right. There was nothing…there was no aspect of human existence or culture that he found irrelevant. And that’s what’s also so wonderful about him. It’s not a narrow field. And Jung was the same. At first, I think, that was the exhilaration of their relationship. They could both see a kindred soul on that level.

So that brings us to my next question. How familiar were you with Freud’s and Jung’s works and ideas before the film?

I was pretty familiar with Freud. Not so familiar with Jung. Jung of course was very popular in the ‘60s because of his spiritual realization aspects of his work.

“Mysticism”, pejoratively put?

Well yeah, that mysticism could get absorbed by the pop culture of the ‘60s. That’s not his fault. And I wouldn’t even say that “mysticism” is inaccurate of Jung, you know?

So you knew his works then?

Well no, I didn’t. You see, that’s the thing. This project encouraged me to read deeply into Jung and his work and to buy his Red Book. It’s interesting to see where he went. And where he went was exactly where Freud feared he would go. Into mysticism and spirituality and, basically, religion. And for me, that’s the joy of film making, because it encourages you to delve into things you wouldn’t ordinarily have the time to really delve into. And then I knew nothing of Sabina, before I read Christopher’s play, so that was all very exciting.

Let’s talk about Sabina Spielrein and her character for a bit. Her story is a total revelation, even for people like me who think they have a handle on the history of psychoanalysis. She’s written out of history, in certain ways. So how did you think about what, really, is a political act, that is, representing Sabina’s contributions literally to psychoanalytic thought, dominated in the popular imagination by these grand, male figures?

Christopher and I agreed that we both came to this project with prejudice, without an agenda. Not even a feminist, or anti-feminist, or Freudian or anti-Freudian one. Really, for me, the pleasure of it was resurrection. To bring these people back to life. And the era, which I said was so fascinating and significant. So let the chips fall where they may; let what happens happen. But doing the research, you clearly see a merging. You could see that Sabina was very influential on both Freud and Jung. But she gets maybe a footnote from Freud and totally nothing from Jung, in terms of acknowledgment.

Was that paper of her’s depicted in the film a real paper that you read?

Yes, of course. She’s a terrific writer, too. I mean, some of her stuff isn’t even translated yet. Now, remember, she’s a Russian writing in German and then when it gets to me it’s been translated into English, so it’s hard to know about the particulars of her language. It would have been perfect if I could have read her in the original German, but I can’t. Christopher could. But her writing is dense, it’s very technical. It’s full of literary allusions, mythical allusions.

That was the thing about all of them. Their awareness and reading of culture was so profound. Wagner and all that stuff in the film, that’s accurate. It was sometimes confusing, you know? Because it really takes deep understanding and lots of time to work it out. Because she and all of them were working on the details of how the things they were discovering manifested themselves in ancient societies, and also on their own societies. Now how does Wagner deal with this or that…It’s all exciting stuff.

So the film concludes on the eve of World War One. This reminded me of Michael Haneke’s recent The White Ribbon which also ends just before World War One.

Yes.

I’m wondering what for you is interesting about this period of time, the first decades of the 20th century, and this place, central Europe?

When I went to Vienna, it was for the first time, for this movie. And I was just struck by how monumental the city was. I hadn’t expected that. In size and scope. And you realize that the people who built this city were building the capital of an empire. It was the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and it lasted for 700 years.

The feeling was—and it’s very beautifully described in the book by Stefan Zweig The World of Yesterday, a fantastic book—simply that they thought they were evolving into the ultra-super-civilized nation of Europe. Everything was very orderly and controlled. Very culturally deep. Reason ruled over everything. All the passions and crazy stuff was to be subdued by this commitment to reason. Man was evolving from animal to angel, basically, and that it was all proceeding as it should.

But then there was Freud, saying “Not so fast! This is a surface reality, because underneath we are still the animals and tribal barbarians we think we’re not, and we must acknowledge these things in order to deal with them.” And then the war completely showed just how right he was. I mean, it’s hard for people now who are so cynical about the various wars that we’ve experience to really grasp what a shock it was to the civilized Europeans that they could fall so quickly into tribal barbarism. I mean, the hideous atrocities, the trenches. So depressing and shocking for people who really thought they were en route to being the ultimate humans. And this was after 40 years of peace which seemed like a really long time for modern Europe.

But then suddenly this. And it seemed so stupid. I mean, they could see the insanity of it. And yet no one could stop it. So this was very alarming, as you can imagine. By the time you get to World War Two, people are more cynical, they’ve seen it happen already… You know, it goes on and on: Korea, Vietnam. What Freud said turns out to be, sadly, true. Civilization and its discontents. For me, the two things go together, Freud and these revelations.

What resonance do you see between that time and our time, especially since society nowadays doesn’t have a vastly held belief in the evolving nature of humans, etc.?

I know, I know. It’s got to be refreshing in a scary way to see that we’ve been through all of this before and that we handled it pretty badly, and that the repercussions are brutal. Today, we’re seeing it all. I mean, humans have invented money and the economic system, but they don’t seem able to control it. It’s a creature of its own. And yet it’s a reflection of humanity: of greed, ambition, stupidity, all of that stuff.

Same with “technology”. When people try to talk to me about the “inhuman-ness” of technology, I always say, “No! here’s nothing more human than technology.” We’re the only ones who do it. It’s absolutely a reflection of who we are, for good and bad. It’s not like something that’s imposed on us from outer space, I mean, we made it! And yet it seems uncontrollable. I certainly don’t have any answers for all mankind, unlike 7’s jeans, which I’m wearing, which have the “answer for all mankind” (Laughs). It’s good to be reminded of a couple things. Just the desire, the attempt, by cultured, intellectual people to really come to grips with the difficult things about the nature of humans, this is extremely important.

Even the physical stuff. Freud insisted on the reality of the human body, which is where I connect with him greatly. Because it was a disembodied society. You could see it in the clothes, the corsets, the collars. The body is wrapped up and stiff and controlled. And here Freud is talking about penises and anuses and vaginas and excrement and child abuse and incest. These were absolutely unspeakable things at the time. Freud, for me, is a heroic figure. And frankly Jung as well. We need more people like that today. It’s almost irrelevant if they’re actually correct about everything—where are our heroes now who don’t have an agenda but who are just trying to get at the truth of our situation?

Returning to the film itself, one theme I saw in the film was seduction, sexual and intellectual. There are so many different stagings of seduction in the movie—between Freud and Jung, between Sabina and Jung, between Otto and everybody, and perhaps even more fundamentally between artist and audience. The dynamics between pleasure, control and freedom that your film presents are really complex. I wonder: are relationships fraught by seduction something you’ve addressed in your previous films, or is this unique to A Dangerous Method?

I think that’s a very nice analysis and a great question.

Stop it.

Really! (Laughs) I don’t normally think in analytical terms that way when making a film. I absolutely don’t think about my other movies. To me, my previous work is completely irrelevant to what I’m presently doing. Because, and I’ve said this ad nausem, but when I’m working on a movie, I want to hear what the film tells me it needs. The film tells you what it wants, what style, what lens, what color, how you light it. It has nothing to do with my other movies. And it would be a huge mistake to impose my thumbprint, my Cronenberg-ness, on a work because it stifles the process of discovery. Especially if the movie is rejecting that. So I can’t say that seduction as a theme is something I’m deliberately working through in my movies. It’s not a conscious thing.

But certainly, everything you said is completely true. Yes, artists do try to seduce their audiences in particular ways, my film and every other film. Part of drama—you know George Bernard Shaw said “conflict is the essence of drama”. Conflict isn’t punching; it’s argument. It’s trying to convince someone of something, whether it’s your beauty and sexuality, or your theories of life are the correct ones and the person should abandon theirs, or whatever. So I think seduction is a natural, almost innate in the dramatic process.

One thing that struck me, towards the end of the movie—in fact the word comes up in the dialogue several times—was when Sabina says to Jung (I’m paraphrasing), “What we’re doing here is giving the patients back their freedom.” This is what really made me think hard after I left the film, because adding the element of freedom to our understanding of seduction, as psychoanalysis does, really complicates the field.

Yes, and of course Otto talks about freedom as well. “Freedom is freedom,” he says. And that’s a very seductive idea. And yet, as you say, it’s complex. Think back to when Otto says to Jung, “just take her out back and thrash her within an inch of her life! I don’t understand why people make pleasure so complicated!” And then Jung replies, “well, pleasure is complicated, as you well know.” It’s not just in the interactions between the characters. It’s in their awareness, their thoughts, too.

I really loved Otto’s character.

Yes, me too!

Something almost Marquis de Sade about him…

Well, I disagree. He’s really a proto-hippie. De Sade enjoyed being evil; he built a fetish out of it. Otto, on the other hand, is not that. He doesn’t want to inflict pain on anyone. He’s not sadistic. He’s going with the flow, you know? He’s totally ‘60s. He’s a vegetarian, he lives on a commune, he takes drugs and has loose sex and encourages everyone else to take drugs and have sex.

And these are ideas that certainly cycle. The Greeks had their equivalents. It comes around, because someone has a revelation. I remember the ‘60s: people were like, “these rules of society, the surface reality we’re presented with are just a possibility, not a given.” Especially if those rules aren’t words from God, people oftentimes realize that they can change those rules, that arrangements are not how they have to be. We can do it another way. Without marriage. With drugs. With a different kind of sex. With communal living. With no property

This is incredibly exciting to think about, and it’s a true revelation because you realize—I mean, I took LSD once, and it was a fabulous trip. Obviously it freaked me out because I never did it again. However, it does let you know that reality, as we perceive it, is only one possibility.

I think of it this way: take a dog. We may be in the same room, but its reality is totally different, because of its body, so how it sees and smells and what-not. But it’s another actual reality, different from human reality but just as real. This is a potent realization. We have to then figure out, what do we do with it? And Freud, in his own way, dealt with this. And Jung as well. For Jung in fact, he had visions, actual religious-type visions that he even desired to induce in himself.

So what do you do with that?

Well that’s exactly it. What do you do with that? Looking at Jung, he became a kind of spiritual leader, a religious leader, although I’m sure Jungians would resist that characterization, although we’ll see, because they seem to like it.

Have “the Jungians” seen the film then?


Yes, some have. Some official ones, big-time Jungians. And they seem to really like it.

Who are these Jungians, anyway?


They exist, a real scientific community. I think in Zurich there are hundreds or thousands of them. Here in North America, less, but they are about spiritual realization and dream analysis. It’s very big into the theraputic practice of writing down and analyzing dreams.

You’ve heard of the collective unconscious, of archetypes? This is all part of the Jungian structure, so when you plug into that… Go to YouTube and view some interviews with Carl Jung. There are a lot of them, because he died in 1961. So unlike Freud, we have a record of Jung speaking and lecturing, in English, as well. And you’ll see that he’s very seductive but in a grandfatherly sort of way. Seems like a very sweet, humane guy. And he’ll explain to you all of his stuff. But spiritual self-realization is at the heart of it. And for people who can respond to that, it works.

I know some people who’ve been through Jungian analysis, and they claim it really helped them. Now, with what, I don’t know—I never asked them. Jung, you know, said that Freudian analysis only works for Jews. He was obviously thinking of the structure of Jewish households as he saw it. But that’s a pretty brutal thing to say.

Besides Jewish family structure, wasn’t that comment of Jung’s an expression of dominant, wide-spread understandings of racial difference of the time?

Certainly. Many Aryan intellectuals, like Wagner or Nietzsche, were obsessed with Jews and Jewishness. And they weren’t all anti-Semitic. Wagner yes, Nietzsche no. But they were obsessed with these Jewish themes at that time.

You know, Jung did say that when “we” Aryans were wearing animal skins in the forests of Europe, Jews already had 2,000 year of incredible civilization and sophistication. But, you know, he wasn’t saying that as a compliment. Because the unfortunate thing, according to Jung, was the Jews lack a connection to the soil, with the land. He doesn’t have a heredity connection with the land.

It’s the whole blood-and-soil thing which, with the Nazis, became a nightmare, so one could say—I think there are definitely Freudians who regard Jung as anti-Semitic. My take is: by the standards of his time, he wouldn’t have been considered egregiously anti-Semitic, but from our perspective, of course he was. Those attitudes were in the air then though. But he did say things like “Jews should dress differently so we can tell them apart from other people.” Well, that was before the Jewish star that Jews were forced to wear in the ghettos. He wouldn’t have said that after WWII, but he did say it before. So…yeah, this is all very intriguing, difficult stuff.

Last question: I’d like to hear a bit from you about Keira Knightly’s Sabina Spielrein. Such an amazing performance. Tell us about your work together.

She really is wonderful in the film. So much of her performance is her work, though. Of course we collaborated. But she really did her homework, reading all the letters and studying the script. And we thought through together precisely what hysteria was.

There are records of hysterics. Christopher found even the original notes made of Sabina’s arrival at the Burghölzli, detailing her symptoms. So we knew what her particular symptoms were. And we looked at Charcot, who worked explicitly on hysteria, which was a real condition of the time. Hysteria comes from the Greek word for uterus, and in fact a particularly barbaric way that medicine dealt with hysteria at the time was to remove some women’s uteruses. And there’s footage from the time, of women suffering from hysteria. And there are photographs.

So we knew, basically, what we were dealing with. And we had to let the audience know that Sabina was suffering from a real disease, not just neurosis, but a real physical malady and that she was completely dysfunctional and unpresentable to society—

Grotesque, even.

David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg

Absolutely. With the facial ticks and all that. It’s hard to watch. And we felt we did a relatively subdued version of it compared to what the reality would be. But I suggested that we concentrate on the mouth, the face and the jaw because, well, it’s the talking cure. She was being encouraged to say the unspeakable, things a woman of her time shouldn’t even think let alone express. She’s a very smart woman, so part of her psyche wants her to utter these truths, but it comes out deformed and not understandable.

That struggle, I gave her that. But how to act that struggle, she came up with that.

Well, it was a fantastic performance in a fantastic movie. Thanks, Mr. Cronenberg.

Thank you.
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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/23/a-dangerous-method-david-cronenberg-michael-fassbender_n_1109640.html?ref=tw

David Cronenberg, Michael Fassbender On 'A Dangerous Method,' The Film Meant For Julia Roberts
A Dangerous Method Cronenberg Fassbender

First Posted: 11/23/11 10:06 AM ET Updated: 11/23/11 04:19 PM ET

"A Dangerous Method" has been in the works for 14 years. But the film, directed by David Cronenberg and starring Michael Fassbender, began as something very different than what is currently being shown in theaters.

"I delivered the first screenplay in about '97, and it was commissioned by 20th Century Fox and Julia Roberts' company," screenwriter Christopher Hampton told The Huffington Post. "It was called 'Sabina,' and nothing happened with it. I thought it was a real shame cause I'd done so much research."

At that point, the Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung-centered drama was meant to focus less on the psychoanalysts, and more on Sabina Spielrein, a mental patient-turned-lover of Jung's.

"Of course it was because Julia Roberts' company was financing it, and of course it was meant to be a vehicle for her," Cronenberg said.

When it went nowhere, Hampton -- a playwright and the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of "Atonement" and "Dangerous Liaisons" -- took his script elsewhere, reworking it for the stage with Jung as the lead, a role that Ralph Fiennes would fill. This is when it materialized on Cronenberg's radar.

"I was curious about it because Ray Fiennes was in it, and I'd worked with him on 'Spider,'" said Cronenberg, the brains behind "The Fly," "A History of Violence" and "Videodrome." And so we arrive, 14 years later, at the high-minded, perversely sexual film starring Fassbender (Jung), Keira Knightley (Spielrein) and Viggo Mortensen (Freud). With Cronenberg in control, it essentially guaranteed more scenes like this one than we could have hoped for in a Roberts vehicle:
2011-11-22-keira.jpg

The predator jaw-ed Knightley you see above is the film's dramatic grounding. She enters Jung's life at the moment of this freeze frame, a hysterical patient, curdling at any touch. Over time, as she proves to be a budding psychoanalyst herself, she curdles less, and shares Jung's bed more. But much of "A Dangerous Method" hinges on Jung and Freud's intellectual back-and-forths on the future of psychoanalysis -- with Freud acting as both Jung's mentor and intimidator -- and their rift weighs heavily on the plot. As Cronenberg would tell you, Freud wanted to talk about penises and vaginas, and Jung did not.

Cronenberg and Fassbender ("Shame," "Jane Eyre," "X-Men") sat down with The Huffington Post to discuss penises and vaginas, and whether they're more Freudian or Jungian.

Would you have still made a film about Jung and Freud if there had been no Sabina?

Cronenberg: Well that's the thing, I'm not sure if it would've worked very well dramatically, especially since so much of their relationship was carried on through letters, which was the internet of the time. But that's not very dramatic for film, and it was really Christopher's structure that made me feel that there was a movie there, and the structure really depended hugely on Sabina. So I think the answer is probably no. I think it's crucial that there was a triangle. Not a duet.

Is this the first film portrayal of Jung?

Fassbender: I think there was one about Freud, but I'm not sure about Jung. I just checked up on YouTube some interviews with Jung as an older man and I managed to watch what I could of whatever was available there. So from there, I could get some sort of mannerisms, shadow moves that I could incorporate into the character, and get a sense of his personality. There seemed to be a sense of lightness about him, confidence, self-assured.

Do you feel more pressure playing someone like Mr. Rochester, who has been portrayed numerous times on film, or Jung, who has never really been represented before?

Fassbender: "There's always a healthy amount of pressure -- it's always good to have fear going into something, otherwise you're just operating in your comfort zone. With Rochester I thought, this guy seems sort of bipolar to me, so that's what I worked toward. I get a gut feeling, and it might not be right, but you have to respond to those things. The pressure -- you've got to respect it, and then you've got to disrespect it. It's the same pressure doing something like Magneto, where you have such a huge loyal, vocal, passionate fanbase out there, and so you respect that, but at the end of the day, you disrespect it and say, well this is my take on it.

Cronenberg: Actors need to scare themselves. When I started to talk to [Robert Pattinson for "Cosmopolis"], it became apparent that he was terrified, as Keira was terrified to do Sabina, and that's always good.

Why did you want Pattinson for the part in "Cosmopolis"?

Cronenberg: Well I'd watched a movie that I think not too many people have seen called "Little Ashes," where he plays Salvador Dali, and he plays him as a young man and plays him with a Spanish accent. So I thought, well that's really interesting, I mean this was before he was a "Twilight" star, because, it takes a particular handsome young man to decide to play that role. And then I did watch some of the "Twilight" stuff and I watched "Remember Me" and I felt that he had a lot going on. He's supposed to be a super smart billionaire at a young age, 28 he says in the movie. It's intuition. I didn't know him as a person, but I'd figured from the movies that I'd seen, like "Little Ashes," that I could maybe interest him in doing something that's not "Twilight" obviously.

How do you usually go about casting? Why didn't you cast Ray Fiennes in this case?

Cronenberg: I knew that Ray would wonder if I would cast him, but the problem is he's 20 years too old. Though he's a fine-looking 50-year-old, he's not 29. Part of the excitement for me of this moment in the careers of Jung and Freud is their age, because we're used to this grandfatherly, 78-year-olds with beards and moustaches and white hair, and that's what people think of Jung and Freud. But here was a 29-year-old Jung, just at the beginning of his career, and a 50-year-old Freud who was charismatic and handsome, and at the height of his power. And Ray was too old for that. It works on stage of course -- with that moustache, he really looked very much like Jung.

How was it working with Keira Knightley -- did you meet her before her entrance in the movie, when she comes in and kind of explodes onto the scene?

Fassbender: I met her the night before. We were both staying at the hotel. Or a couple of days before. She's great, she's just so cool. She's super prepared. She's sitting there and she's got her folder, with all this writing everywhere. She doesn't bring her process into your world, she comes ready. And she has fun -- she's ready to play and try different things. She's really an impressive person, I have to say.

Do you identify with Freud or Jung more?

Fassbender: Maybe I'm more sort of Jungian because I believe anything is possible. I think there are so many things out there that are unexplained. I wouldn't be as rigid in the Freudian beliefs that everything is dealt in a physical form, and everything stems from that. I do like to think there's a lot of mystery out there, the idea of interconnectivity. But then you look at what Freud says as well and they're such well thought-out and intelligent theses in both quarters that you can see relevant elements to both.

Cronenberg: What I like about Freud is his insistence on the reality of the human body. Freud was considered a very destructive force because he was talking about incest and body parts and fluids and things that nobody wanted to talk about. Jung is saying, well perhaps if you didn't call it libido, or perhaps if you didn't insist so much on penises and vaginas, they could accept it. But [Freud's] saying, no, we have to accept this stuff, that's of the essence. And the other thing is, he knows that he's under attack. Part of the reason for that is that he's Jewish and this is an anti-Semitic society, so that's a problem. So I want you, Carl Jung, because you're Christian, and you're not Jewish, and it would be great if you became my successor, and you carried on the movement. That I feel less connection with Jung is because I feel ultimately he, and certainly later, you could see, everything that Freud worried about with Jung came true. Jung did go into mysticism and religion and away from science. And at that point, as an atheist, I disconnect from Jung. Although undeniably he was an intriguing guy.

(To Cronenberg) Any word on a "Fly" sequel?

Cronenberg: I wrote a script, and at the moment I think it's dead basically. It's a dead fly. It's a script I actually wrote and would be happily in pre-production doing if Fox were interested. (They're not.)

(To Fassbender) You're in two films this year with heavy sexual themes ["A Dangerous Method" and "Shame"].

Fassbender: It's in my contract (laughs).

Could you relate your experience on one to the other when you're preparing?

Fassbender: Not at all. When I finish something, it's gone. I went from "Dangerous Method" straight into "X-Men" and then that was that beast that it was of its own, and then straight from "X-Men" into "Shame." So the key is then spending time with the script, and then meeting people. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet with people who suffer from [sex addiction] and then listen to them and ask them to tell me stories. It's more interesting for me to hear stories. And from stories I can get some glimpses of a personality.

Did that make you go crazy at all?

Fassbender: Well, I did go a little bit loopy. I started with "Haywire," "Jane Eyre," "Dangerous Method," "X-Men" and then "Shame," so I was like [makes a bug-eyed face]. But again, you learn in your profession to wash away whatever you do.

"A Dangerous Method" is out today.
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