22 January: Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent van Gogh (Paul Cox 1987)
Run time: 1H 45Min
This movie by Paul Cox offers an intimate portrait of the artist in his life, sharing his sorrows and joys with his brother, Theo, in the more than 750 letters that passed between them during their lifetime. In this way Cox manages to take us into the inner experience of Van Gogh himself, which is reflected in his paintings.
Jung says: A creative calling is like a daimonion, which, in some instances, can ruin a person’s entire life. (Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 164-167) Jung saw this process as one of great social significance, where conjured primordial images were “constantly at work educating the spirit of the age.”
This beautiful movie will give us the opportunity to reflect on the creative spirit in both its divine and daimonic aspects, through the life and work of Vincent van Gogh.
19 March: Late Night
Run Time: 1H 42Min
This film is the story of Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson), an authoritarian unrelated late-night talk show host with an extensive career in comedy, whose show’s ratings have been falling over the past decade. When Katherine learns that she is about to be fired she hires Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), mainly because she is a Native-American woman while all remaining writers are white men. Molly embodies the archetypes of the trickster and the fool and she helps to rescue the show. The topic of vulgar and misogynistic humour by another presenter is explored. Betrayal and exposure of Katherine’s past indiscretion is revealed but Katherine confronts her past, takes responsibility for her misstep, and apologises on national television thus redeeming herself. In the process she undergoes an aspect of what Jung termed individuation and ends up a warmer more related individual Ultimately, the show’s team is diversified, and it becomes more successful than ever.
14 May: The Pianist*
Run time: 2H 30Min
This 2002 film is based on the autobiography of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a classical pianist who is 26 years old, playing Chopin for a Warsaw radio station, when World War II begins. At first, he is baffled and relatively unaffected, unable to imagine that his comfortable, refined life with his parents and three siblings will be seriously affected. However, he is forced to adapt step by step as the Nazi regime takes over his life, creates the Warsaw ghetto, separates and destroys his family, and finally obliterates his home city. We witness the atrocities and deprivations through his eyes: an unheroic, frightened person whose survival is due not to his abilities, but mostly to chance and the assistance of others. The movie resists the temptation to crank up suspense or sentiment; it simply documents what the pianist saw: the individual acts of heroism that usually led to death rather than triumph, and the myriad varieties of evil as well as good in human beings.
* Screened The Grand Budapest Hotel. We had originally planned to screen and discuss The Pianist, but upon more recent reflection, we agreed that in view of our recent Covid experiences, this is not the right time for a movie, excellent as it is, that directly depicts the violence and cruelty of the Holocaust.
16 July: Frida (2002)
Run time: 2H 3Min
Frida is a 2002 American biographical drama film directed by Julie Taymor which depicts the professional and private life of the surrealist Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Frida reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality, an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences: her childhood near Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution; a devastating accident at age eighteen that left her crippled and unable to bear children; her tempestuous marriage to muralist Diego Rivera and intermittent love affairs with men as diverse as Isamu Noguchi and Leon Trotsky; her association with the Communist Party; her absorption in Mexican folklore and culture; and her dramatic love of spectacle.
The legacy of Kahlo cannot be underestimated or exaggerated. Not only is it likely that every female artist making art since the 1950s will quote her as an influence, but it is not only artists and those who are interested in art that she inspires. Her art also supports people who suffer as result of accident, as result of miscarriage, and because of a failed marriage. Through imagery, Kahlo articulated experiences of great complexity, making them more manageable and giving viewers hope that they can endure, recover, and start again. (The Art Story https://www.theartstory.org/artist/kahlo-frida/life-and-legacy/)
10 September: Orlando
Run time: 1H 34Min
Based on the book by Virginia Woolf, this film explores the concept of gender and non-binary gender fluidity, the possible solace provided by the arts, and the effects of war on an individual’s psyche and on society. The inequities based on gender in society are also explored. It commences in 1600 with Orlando as an androgenous nobleman and traverses several centuries during which time Orlando awakens one morning to find that he has transformed into a woman. The film ends in the early 1990s with Orlando in the company of her daughter. Disappointment in love and how Orlando deals with this is also explored. Having lived a most bizarre existence, the film concludes with Orlando, relaxing with her daughter and daydreaming philosophically under a tree, finally appearing to have found a tranquil niche. She reminisces on humanity’s forgotten need for androgyny as the key to her own happiness as well as that of her daughter.
12 November: The Shawshank Redemption
Run time: 2H 23Min
A 1994 movie based on the short story by Stephen King, “The Shawshank Redemption” tells the story of an upper-class white banker in post-World War II America who is wrongfully convicted of murder. Tim Robbins plays the banker, Andy Dufresne, and Morgan Freeman is “Red” Redding, the black murderer he befriends in Shawshank Prison.
Andy uses his past experience to secure a job in the prison library. This position gives him some freedom of movement, access to resources, and a chance to assist some inmates. Andy also balances the prison books, including the laundering of bribes taken by the warden. For some time, Andy balances his precarious position in the prison hierarchy while inspiring fellow inmates to improve their lives in various ways. This balance is toppled when the warden sends Andy to solitary confinement on a pretext. Soon after he is returned to his cell, Andy disappears. The circumstances of his disappearance form the satisfying and redemptive resolution of this film.
Renee Ramsden: is a clinical psychologist and a Jungian analyst working in private practice in Wynberg, Cape Town, for 29 years. She is a founder member of the Southern African Association for Jungian Analysts (SAAJA) and a training analyst. She specializes in dream-analysis and has been studying alchemy and psychology as presented by C.G. Jung for 25 years. She has a longstanding interest in ancient goddess cultures and their relevance for the feminine in our current world.
John Gosling: is a psychiatrist and Jungian analyst. He trained at the C.G. Jung Institute of New York and returned to Cape Town in 2004. He is a past- president of SAAJA and is also a training analyst. He has a special interest in dreams, complexes, archetypes and how psychoneurobiology informs our work and approach to psyche. He is also interested in exploring how the principles of analytical psychology can be applied in helping children in traumatised communities and how these principles can be applied to help us better understand politics, films, literature, and the opera.
Grace Reid: is a psychologist and Jungian analyst who practices psychotherapy, psychoanalysis and supervision in Kenilworth. Her training and education took place mostly in the United States, where she was in private practice for five years before moving to Cape Town in 1990. She has served as secretary of SAAJA and is a training analyst.