Freud’s Last Session

Freud’s Last Session February 15, 2024

It is rare these days to have a movie that focuses on the intellect, and significant intellectual debate, about the existence of God, the human psyche and related matters.   This movie lasts only 2 hours 2 minutes, and frankly we could have used more.  Apart from flashbacks to Vienna, and to Lewis’s struggles in WWI, the movie is almost entirely set in London where the Freuds had moved to avoid the Nazis, and in fact set in Freud’s study.  The discussion should have included more of the story of Lewis’ conversion from atheism after WWI not merely a passing glance at him in a museum studying Codex Sinaiticus, and sadly we get only one scene of him with the Inklings in the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford.  But beggars can’t be choosers and we must take this remarkable dialogue for what it is.  It seems in part slanted in the direction of Freud’s view, but at the same time we see the vulnerability of Freud and his intellectual castles he had built on his analysis of the human psyche.  While one can argue that Freud has had more influence on Western culture, and especially on the study of human psychology, at the same time Lewis’ writings and life has affected and indeed changed millions of lives and minds.  In short, this movie is about a heavyweight intellectual bout.  Freud it should be noted had oral cancer in 1939 and committed suicide only three weeks after this dialogue.  One wonders if it had any effect one way or another on him.

The acting in this movie is superb. Anthony Hopkins should get another Oscar, and Matthew Goode was true to his name.  Also excellent was Liv Fries as Anna the daughter of Freud.  There was little unnecessary in this film except the scene with Jack Lewis and Ms. Moore in his home in Oxford, if one was not going to better explain their relationship– Lewis had been chums and foxhole mates with Moore’s son in the war and he had promised to look after Ms. Moore after the war if her son didn’t come home, and he did.  Whether he had some sort of sexual relationship with her or not has not been proved, but the movie insinuates such a thing.

In any case, anyone who loves C.S. Lewis should certainly see this movie, perhaps in tandem with the Shadowlands where Anthony Hopkins plays Lewis (the 1993 version of the film)!  But then Sir Anthony could play anyone, and his portrayal of Paul is the best to ever appear on film (in the 1980s and on TV no less).   Catch Freud’s last session before it disappears from the theaters.  It is not perfectly certain that Lewis was the Oxford don who went and saw Freud in 1939, but it certainly is very plausible, (see the disclaimers at the end of the film).

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