Young Dr. Freud

Austrian director Axel Corti's 1976 biography of Sigmund Freud peers deep into the mind of the father of psychoanalysis, dramatizing key incidents in his emotional and intellectual development and speculating on their impact on Freud's later life and theories. The film opens in 1938, with the 82-year-old Freud departing Nazi Germany, then abruptly flashes...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Austrian director Axel Corti's 1976 biography of Sigmund Freud peers deep into the mind of the father of psychoanalysis, dramatizing key incidents in his emotional and intellectual development and speculating on their impact on Freud's later life and theories. The

film opens in 1938, with the 82-year-old Freud departing Nazi Germany, then abruptly flashes back to 1860 and his earliest memory: the humiliation of his Jewish father on the muddy streets of Freiburg, Moravia. As the adult Freud watches, Scrooge-like, from the wings, an off-screen narrator

(screenwriter and longtime Corti collaborator Georg Steffan Troller) prods him to consider how his Jewishness may have contributed to his sense of himself as an outsider, a cool analyst of other people's behavior. Corti and Troller retain the Q&A format, an effective means of interpreting herr

doktor's life story, throughout. Freud describes his long, frustrating years at the University of Vienna; his courtship of Martha Bernays (Silvia Haider); and his relationship with Dr. Josef Breuer (Karl Merkatz), whose treatment of a female "hysteric" led him to formulate the notion of a

talking cure, and Freud to conceptualize the notions of transference and repression as well as the revolutionary idea that there might be a place in the mind where painful memories are hidden. While hardly an earthshaking contribution to Freud studies, this is an entertaining, insightful and

handsomely illustrated Freud for Dummies. Wolfgang Treu's B&W cinematography has the slightly washed-out quality of 19th century medical photographs, and while acknowledging Freud's conventional ideas about women's roles, the film is bold enough to credit him with opening the door for their

emancipation. Corti, who died of cancer in 1996, is best known for his "Where to and Back" trilogy — GOD DOESN'T BELIEVE IN US ANYMORE, SANTE FE (both 1985) and WELCOME TO VIENNA (1986) — a monumental look at Vienna before and after World War II.

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  • Released: 1977
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Austrian director Axel Corti's 1976 biography of Sigmund Freud peers deep into the mind of the father of psychoanalysis, dramatizing key incidents in his emotional and intellectual development and speculating on their impact on Freud's later life and theor… (more)

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