Keira Knightley needed a few shots of vodka to get her through spanking scenes in her new movie A Dangerous Method, a fact-based film about psychoanalysts Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud and their relationship with each other and Jung’s brilliant but troubled Russian patient Sabina Spielrein.
Jung’s alleged affair with Spielrein, who went on to be a physician and one of the first female psychoanalysts, was uncovered in a cache of letters which led to an acclaimed 1994 book by clinical psychologist and historian John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein.
A Costly Affair
The sado-masochistic spanking scene – with Knightly apparently enjoying being tied to a bed with her breasts bared – is not historically recorded and may be a figment of the director’s imagination, but there seems little doubt the married therapist’s affair with the much younger Spielrein was widely enough known for it to cause ructions in the medical community and jeopardise his career.
As for the S & M? Knightley says while it was virtually ignored in Canada and Italy (at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals) it was the thing most commented on by British audiences.
“I don’t know what that says about us? We obviously like spanking.”
Three Eggheads On Sex
A “dangerous method” refers to the “the talking cure” – Freud’s embryonic treatment for psychological illness that often led to a transference of affection within the intimacy of the therapist patient relationship. When Spielrein falls in love with Jung, he does not resist.
While the book is a serious history about the rivalry that developed between the two giants of psychoanalysis, and is heavy going for the general reader, the movie –with actor Michael Fassbinder as Carl Jung – is already gathering favourable reviews with a 70+ rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Despite the sex scenes, there’s not much here for voyeurs. New York Magazine described it as “three eggheads earnestly trying to create a theoretical framework for their sexual impulses. This will be the basis for the strange new field of psychotherapy.”
The film ends just before World War I. Spielrein went on to become one of the first female psychoanalysts, as well as start a kindergarten where Stalin enrolled his son under false name.
She died with her two children (along with 27,000 others) at the hands of the German SS in Russia’s biggest Jewish massacre at Rostov-on-Don in August 1942.
image from: sortiescinema.net