Cinema without a cinema and film without film

The psychogeography of contemporary media consumption

Authored by: Aaron Balick

The Routledge International Handbook of Jungian Film Studies

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138666962
eBook ISBN: 9781315619163
Adobe ISBN:


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It is widely reported that Freud did not like the moving pictures very much. When approached by Samuel Goldwyn with an offer of $100,000 to consult on Secrets of a Soul (dir. Pabst, 1926), a film about famous historical love stories that would start with Anthony and Cleopatra, Freud politely declined. Surprisingly, however, Freud was not at all affronted by the idea. According to Ernest Jones (1957), ‘he was amused at this ingenious way of exploiting the association between psychoanalysis and love’ (p. 114). Despite this unique opportunity Freud’s ‘disbelief in the possibility of his abstract theories being presented in the plastic manner of a film’ (ibid.) prevented him from going ahead with Goldwyn’s plan. Rather than abandoning it all together, he left it in the hands of his capable associate Karl Abraham. It did not turn out well. Despite the fact that Freud delegated the task, the production company nevertheless included in its publicity, without Freud’s consent, that the film was ‘planned and scrutinized by Dr. Freud’. This came to the delight of the English press, highly suspicious of Freudian theories at the time, who reported that ‘Freud, having failed in securing support for his theories among professional circles, has in despair fallen back on the theatrical proceeding of advertising his ideas among the populace through film’ (ibid., p. 115). This must have been very disturbing for the professor, who was continually working to promote psychoanalysis as a ‘proper science’ against intense resistance within the public and its institutions. As an aside, let’s not forget the oft quoted phrase, ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ is associated with P. T. Barnum, whose life overlapped with Freud’s for more than thirty years. It would seem that bad publicity was as much a boon for psychoanalysis as it was for Barnum and Goldwyn.

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