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SECRETS OF A SOUL (Geheimnisse einer Seele) (director: G.W.Pabst; screenwriters: Karl Abraham/Hans Neumann/Colin Ross/Hans Sachs; cinematographer: Robert Lach/Curt Oertel/Guido Seeber; music: Ekkehard Wolk; cast: Werner Krauss (Martin Fellman), Ruth Weyher (the wife), Jack Trevor (Erich), Pavel Pavlov (Dr. Orth ), Ilka Grüning (Mother), Hertha von Walther (Fellman’s Assistant); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hans Neumann; Kino; 1926-silent-Germany-in German with English subtitles)
“It’s one of the first films to cover Freudian territory.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

G.W.Pabst (“Pandora’s Box”/”Westfront 1918″/”White Hell of Pitz Palu”) helms this new type of pessimistic realism film in German cinema that capitalizes on the public’s growing curiosity about Freudian psychoanalysis. Members of Freud’s inner circle, such as noted psychologists Karl Abraham and Hans Sachs, were contacted and they drew up the film’s key dream sequence and provided the keys for it to be interpreted. The innovative nightmare, filled with sexual symbols, was designed by Erno Metzner and photographed by Guido Seeber.

It stars Werner Krauss, who six years earlier played Dr. Caligari in the groundbreaking German expressionist film. Here Krauss plays a tormented chemist who suddenly after a brutal neighborhood murder by razor and a visit from his wife’s cousin (Jack Trevor) develops an irrational fear of knives and after a horrible dream in which he has the irresistible urge to kill his lovely wife (Ruth Weyher) the chemist seeks help from psychologist Dr. Orth (Pavel Pavlov). After several months of treatment on the couch where the chemist’s dreams are analyzed by Dr. Orth, the patient is cured and returns to the wife he loves after it’s learned that he’s unconsciously frustrated because he wants to be a father.

The drama itself is a pat soap opera bourgeois melodrama of little value, but what makes this film still a worthwhile watch is that the dream sequence is taken seriously and is intelligently presented. It’s one of the first films to cover Freudian territory, and for that deserves kudos.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”