Sunday, 5 December 2010

Pabst's Secrets of A Soul

Lowry mentions Pabst's Secrets of A Soul in his filmscript for Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night in a sequence where the character Dick Divers walks past cinemas on Broadway in New York where this film is showing.

Secrets of a Soul (German: Geheimnisse einer Seele) is a 1926 silent German drama film directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst.

Psychoanalysis was still a novelty to most people at the time this film was made. Pabst, who was very interested in Freud's writings, had the freedom to make any film he wanted after the major success of The Joyless Street. He decided to do a film about a neurosis. The result, the story of a man who seeks help for unwanted violent thoughts, is notable for its innovative techniques, while at the same time demonstrating a naiveté concerning its subject matter that gives it a permanently dated quality.

A professor (Werner Krauss) finds himself increasingly troubled by a murder that occurs in his neighborhood. At the same time he has learned of the return from abroad of a man who was a childhood friend both of him and his wife. After a strange intense nightmare, he begins to notice, to his horror, that the thought of murdering his wife comes frequently into his mind, and with more of a feeling of compulsion as time goes on. A chance meeting with a kindly psychoanalyst (Pawel Pawloff) leads to a long period of therapy, by which he eventually gains insight into the unconscious thoughts and motives that were causing his neurosis. He is cured, happily returning to the security of a loving marriage.
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