Wednesday, April 27, 2005

the struggle for the unconscious

Neighbours: Freud and Hitler in Vienna
Canada 2003.
Director: Manfred Becker

This riveting documentary is a portrait of two men who shaped the 20th century. Each saw himself as a liberator. Sigmund Freud, a Jew, gave humanity the "unconscious," hoping to free man from his irrational instincts. Adolf Hitler unleashed those instincts to liberate the German people from their perceived enemy, the Jews. And yet, once these two men had been neighbours. For seven years at the turn of the century, both shared Vienna as their home. The two men also shared the ambition to convince others of the incontestable truth of their beliefs – with long-lasting and, in Hitler's case, horrific consequences. In the film, several witnesses of Freud's life and times, including granddaughter Sophie Freud, make a convincing argument that the struggle for the unconscious was the central conflict of the last century. Today, scant decades since the golden age of psychoanalysis from 1920 to 1970, Freud's theories are in danger of being marginalized to the fringes of psychiatric practice. Neighbours intriguingly examines the philosophies and strangely parallel existences of two critical historical figures of the 20th century. Colour and B&W, DigiBeta video. 60 mins.