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My Name Was Sabina Spielrein (Unrated)

Release Date: December 28th, 2005 (NYC-Film Forum) by Facets Multimedia. The Cast: Eva Österberg, Lasse Almebäck, Mercedez Csampai, Maria Thorgevsky, Dan Winer, Helmut Vogel.
Directed by Elisabeth Marton.
In English and German with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: Sabina Spielrein develops a relationship with her psychoanalyst Carl Jung as well as Sigmund Freud during the early to mid 20th Century.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Sabina Spielrein starts off as a patient suffering from hysteria with Carl Jung as her doctor. Through the years, she becomes the first female psychoanalyst. She constantly writes Carl Jung about her feelings as if they were lovers. The problem is that he’s married. Meanwhile, she becomes friends with Sigmund Freud and exchange letters with him. Eventually, he ends up writing letters to Jung and arguing with him about key psychoanalytical theories--which eventually leads to their split. Throughout most of My Name Was Sabina Spielrein , writer-director Elisabeth Marton chooses to dramatize the letters once exchanged by Spielrein, Freud and Jung. In other scenes, you’re taken out of the drama with just factual information—pure narration—without reenactments. The transition between styles is often distracting. Moreover, the reenacted scenes are mostly acted with just voice-over narration. If Marton had chosen one style over another, it would have been easier for you to focus and to be fully drawn into the story.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Although the relationship between Spielrein, Jung, and Freud sheds light on the beginnings of modern psychoanalysis, My Name Was Sabina Spielrein fails to incorporate the facts from the letter into the larger picture. In other words, writer/director Elisabeth Marton doesn’t ask or answer the most basic question: “So what?” Perhaps she could have interviewed other psychoanalysts who base their work on Spierlrein’s interesting findings as the first female psychoanalyst—i.e., how she specifically made an impact on modern psychoanalysis. There are a few hints of it toward the end, but not enough to be truly insightful.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Poor decision to mix documentary with dramatization in this distracting style.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Somewhat intriguing, but ultimately dull with a distracting combination of documentary and dramatization.


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