Secrets of a Soul (Geheimnisse Einer Seele)

“What need is there for romantic treatment? Real life is too romantic, too ghastly.” G. W. Pabst
Secrets of a Soul is a fascinating early attempt to put Freud's theory of psychoanalysis on film. Written under the supervision of three students of Freud (Karl Abraham, Hanns Sachs and Nicholas Kaufmann), the story follows the case history of a professor (played by Werner Krauss) who is driven into a state of terror by a dream in which he attempts to stab his wife. Much of the film illustrates elements of the dream and his memories as they are revealed in interviews with an analyst. Though characterized by the semi-documentary realism that dominates Pabst's later films and that has led him to be called a “cool observer,” Secrets of a Soul is filled with strikingly beautiful images and bravura film technique: knives, doors, stairs and ladders are presented in double and triple-exposure--not as symbols, however, but as examples of the contents of this afflicted mind. German film critic Herman G. Weinberg thinks of the film as the only true “Freudian” film, while others have despaired of its naive resolution.

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