Blu-ray Review A Dangerous Method Blu-ray Review

Richard Gallagher

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Director David Cronenberg's film A Dangerous Method is a fascinating look at the development of psychoanalysis in Austria and Switzerland during the first part of the 20th Century. It was Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) who pioneered the concept of treating mentally ill patients by talking to them - questioning them about their childhoods, discussing their sexuality, and analyzing their dreams. At the same time that Freud was developing psychoanalysis with patients in Vienna, the physician Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) was caring for psychiatric patients at a hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. Freud and Jung had never met, but Jung was aware of Freud's theories and was looking for an opportunity to test them. That opportunity presents itself when a beautiful but hysterical young woman, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), is committed to the hospital by her father.





A Dangerous Method

Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Year: 2011
Rated: R
Program Length: 99 minutes                         
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p
Languages: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

The Program

Director David Cronenberg's film A Dangerous Method is a fascinating look at the development of psychoanalysis in Austria and Switzerland during the first part of the 20th Century. It was Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen) who pioneered the concept of treating mentally ill patients by talking to them - questioning them about their childhoods, discussing their sexuality, and analyzing their dreams. At the same time that Freud was developing psychoanalysis with patients in Vienna, the physician Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender) was caring for psychiatric patients at a hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. Freud and Jung had never met, but Jung was aware of Freud's theories and was looking for an opportunity to test them. That opportunity presents itself when a beautiful but hysterical young woman, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), is committed to the hospital by her father.

Jung has a beautiful and wealthy wife, Emma (Sarah Gadon), who is pregnant with their first child. Jung is somewhat ambivalent about having children. He loves his wife, but family responsibilities have interfered with opportunities to advance his career. He soon discovers that Sabina, his new patient, is extremely intelligent but at times virtually paralyzed by fear. We learn that she grew up enduring frequent beating by her father, and she is extremely disturbed and guilty about the fact that being beaten stirs up strong sexual feelings in her. She actually has the ambition to become a doctor herself, and she responds well to Jung's treatment, eventually becoming his assistant.

Jung begins to correspond with Freud and eventually goes to Vienna to meet the great man. They hit if off immediately, and Jung begins to view Freud as a professional father figure. They discuss Sabina's case, and Freud introduces Jung to Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel), one of Freud's disciples. Gross is a libertine who believes that it is unnatural for people to repress their desires. Consequently, Gross uses drugs and has had children by several different women, and he encourages Jung to overcome his own repressions. By this time Jung and Sabina have become exceptionally close, and at one point Sabina kisses him and makes it clear that he can have her whenever he wants. As time goes by Jung begins to develop theories which diverge from Freud's, a development which strains their relationship.

This is very heady material, but director Cronenberg manages to keep it accessible and dramatically compelling throughout. The acting is superb, and all three of the leading members of the cast received various independent film nominations for their performances. Fassbender and Mortensen are utterly believable in their roles, and Keira Knightley's intensity as Sabina is almost frightening. Sarah Gadon also is fine as Jung's wife, a woman who is determined to hold their lives together in spite of her husband's irresponsible and sometimes self-destructive behavior.

A Dangerous Method is not for everyone, but viewers who are interested in the subject matter will not be disappointed. The film is based upon the stage play "The Talking Cure" by Christopher Hampton. Curiously, Hampton originally wrote it as a screenplay, but when the first efforts to produce it as a film fell through he re-tooled it for the stage. Now it has come full circle as very compelling film.

The Video

This Blu-ray release is, as expected, another fine transfer by Sony. The film was shot on location in Austria and Germany, and it looks terrific. The exteriors are positively gorgeous, and the period costumes look to be entirely authentic. The image is consistently sharp and detailed, often showing off bright, accurate colors. Overall the picture is very film-like and free of digital anomalies.

The Audio

The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is excellent and does full justice to Howard Shore's beautiful, evocative musical score. The dialogue is clear and understandable. The surround channels are effective at conveying ambient sounds. There is nothing here to rattle the windows and walls, but the soundtrack does everything that it needs to do with this material.

The Supplements

The extras on this Blu-ray disc are limited but interesting. First and foremost is an insightful commentary track by director David Cronenberg. The director also is the focus of a 31-minute question and answer session which was held under the auspices of the American Film Institute. He makes a point of saying that he approaches each next project without giving much thought to how he directed his previous films. "The Making of A Dangerous Method" is an eight-minute featurette which gives Cronenberg and the principal actors the opportunity to talk about the project. Composer Howard Shore also discusses his method of scoring a film. Shore has scored several of Cronenberg's films and clearly they have an excellent working relationship.

Sony also has included the original theatrical trailers, as well as previews for The Skin I Live In; Carnage; A Separation; In Darkness; and Midnight in Paris.

The Packaging

The Blu-ray disc comes in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

The Final Analysis

Psychoanalysis is a difficult sell as a topic for a film, but A Dangerous Method contains enough highly-charged drama and eroticism to deliver a very entertaining and enlightening experience. The performances are first-rate and it is all based upon fact - Freud and Jung frequently wrote to each other and their letters have survived and have been incorporated into the movie. This film clearly is not for every taste but will be rewarding to those who are interested in the subject matter.

Equipment used for this review:

Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player
Panasonic Viera TC-P46G15 Plasma display, calibrated to THX specifications by Gregg Loewen
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable

Release Date: March 27, 2012



 

 

Richard Gallagher

Cinematographer
Reviewer
Joined
Dec 9, 2001
Messages
4,126
Location
Fishkill, NY
Real Name
Rich Gallagher
Sony has provided us with links to some clips from the Blu-ray:


A. On Blu-ray & DVD Trailer RT 01:59

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/trailer_1200_640x480_mov.mov



B. Film Clips

01. "I'm Dr. Jung" RT 00:38

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/jung_1200_640x480_mov.mov



02. "Columbus & Galileo" RT 00:32

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/columbus_1200_640x480_mov.mov



03. "13 Hours" RT 00:32

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/hours_1200_640x480_mov.mov



04. "Never Repress Anything" RT 00:35

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/never_1200_640x480_mov.mov



05. "Take the Initiative" RT 01:09

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/take_1200_640x480_mov.mov



06. "Undisputed Crown Prince" RT 00:58

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/crown_1200_640x480_mov.mov



07. "Occupational Hazard" RT 00:48

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/hazard_1200_640x480_mov.mov



08. "Mistake" RT 01:16

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/mistake_1200_640x480_mov.mov



09. "Religious Dimensions" RT 01:17

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/religous_1200_640x480_mov.mov



10. "Sides" RT 01:10

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/sides_1200_640x480_mov.mov



C. The Making of A Dangerous Method

A Fantastic Story RT 01:02

http://flash.sonypictures.com/video/homevideo/adangerousmethod/story_1200_640x480_mov.mov

 

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