The intricacy and complexity of the human mind has inspired the field of psychology to unravel how humans think and the way in which they arrive at decisions or behaviors. Movies have much to offer to the profession of psychology, teaching the viewer what it means to suffer, to succeed, to express strength, and to rise above challenges. "If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed," said the great filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick, many years ago. Just as the mind inspires great theorists, it is the fountain of inspiration for filmmakers as well.
Here are some films that have much to offer the profession of psychology and it will teach the viewer the components that make up a man's journey in life.
Memento, Cristopher Nolan
One of Nolan's greatest works, it is distinguished by the way it plays with timelines. It is presented as two different sequences of scenes scattered during the film. The first is a series in black and white that is shown chronologically, and the second is a series of color sequences shown in reverse order, which simulates the mental state of a person who suffers anterograde amnesia. These two meet at the end, creating a complete narrative. Memento tells the story of Leonard, a man who suffered a brain injury and he uses photographs to try to remember some events. Time, reality, and identity are fragmented and it is up to the characters and the audience to piece them together. A film that beautifully expresses human frailty and the ease with which you can manipulate others.
Seven, David Fincher
Starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman, Seven is a reboot of the film neo-noir genre. It tells the story of two detectives who are tasked with tracking down a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as inspiration in his murders. Each murder scene is meticulously planned and with each clue that is discovered we delve deeper into the mind of a twisted psychopath. Human decadence and frailty are subjects that are fully explored in David Fincher's dark world.
Fight Club, David Fincher
Also directed by Fincher, Fight Club tells the story of an insomaniac office worker desperate to change his life, crosses paths with a soap-maker and both form an underground fight club that evolves into something darker. Fincher intended Fight Club's violence to serve as a metaphor for the conflict between a generation of young people and the establishment
Prendimi l’anima, Roberto Faenza
A 2002 Italian-French-British drama, The Soul Keeper or Prendimi l'anima is loosely based on real life events of Russian psychoanalyst Sabina Spielrein and her relationship with Carl Jung. The story begins with a young woman who decides to investigate Sabina's past. Told in a series of flashbacks, we discover the life of Sabina, a woman who was admitted into a psychiatric hospital and receives treatment by Jung. He follows Freud's psychoanalysis and seeing the improvement it brings to her life, Sabina is also inspired to delve into this discipline.
Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese
Shutter Island is a neo-noir psychological thriller directed by Martin Scorsese based on a novel of the same name. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a federal agent who is investigating a psychiatric facility on Shutter Island after one of the patients goes missing.
A Dangerous Method, David Cronenberg
A unique blend of historical facts and fiction, A Dangerous Method describes the relationship between Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology and Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis and how it quickly turns sour. It also explores Sabina Spielrein's transition from Jung's patient to later a physician and one of the first female psychoanalysts.
Considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has been defined as "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant" by the US Library of Congress. Based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, it tells the story of Mac McMurphy, played by Jack Nicholson, who is transferred to a mental institution for evaluation. He comes face to face with the unyielding Nurse Mildred Ratched, and the power plays escalate with interesting consequences.
On the surface, all behaviors can be explained by the simple cause and effect equation, but if you begin to dig deeper, we realize the behavior of man is at times baffling and difficult to comprehend. A man is a like a puzzle whose missing pieces are retrieved by delving deep into his mind and understanding his context and past. The mind is a bottomless ocean and its depths are pitch black, it is in this darkness that the strongest emotions and thoughts are hidden and their power is able to push to the surface and manifest themselves in certain behaviors.
Written by Mariana Aguilar Tiquet