In 1925 the Hollywood film producer Samuel Goldwyn offered Freud $100,000 if he would collaborate on a love film about Anthony and Cleopatra, but in vain. In the same year the film producer Hans Neumann requested the Berlin psychoanalysts Hanns Sachs and Karl Abraham to act as advisers in the making of a "psychoanalytic" film. So popular did psychoanalysis appear to be at this time that even the German film industry viewed it as topic likely to attract the general public. In spite of Freud's strong objections, Abraham and Sachs accepted the offer and reworks the scenario of the film Secrets of a Soul: A Psychoanalytical Drama (Director: G.W. Pabst, Scenario: Colin Ross). The UFA film reconstructed a case of mental disturbance and its cure by psychoanalysis which Freud had reported. Sachs put together a brochure to accompany the film, under the title "Psychoanalysis. Riddle of the Unconscious", which was intended to explain to the public the basic outline of psychoanalytical therapy.
Werner Krauß and Pawel Pankow in Secrets of a Soul
Photo of a scene from the film Secrets of a Soul which was premiered on 24.3.1926 in Berlin. Werner Krauss played the patient, Pawel Pankow the doctor.
A. J. Storfer
A. J. Storfer
Meanwhile in Vienna A. J. Storfer and Siegfried Bernfeld were developing the project of producing a counterpart to Secrets of a Soul for the International Psychoanalytical Press. The attempt of both analysts to enter the film business turned out to be unsuccessful. Their film project failed owing to insufficient support from other psychoanalysts and not least because of lack of capital to finance it. When Freud heard of the film plans of his own press he stressed to Ferenczi his opposition to anything that might connect his name with a film: "Stupid things happen in film affairs. The company that has beguiled Sachs and Abraham could, of course, not restrain itself from proclaiming my "consent" to the world. I remonstrated strongly to Sachs, today the Neue Freie Presse published a denial. Meanwhile it turns out that Bernfeld and Storfer are involvedin a similar undertaking. I won't hold them back since filming seems to be as unavoidable, it seems, as page-boy haircuts, but I won't have myself trimmed that way and do not wish to be brought into personal contact with any film." [Freud to Ferenczi, 14.8.1925] To lend his name to a love film, as Goldwyn had suggested, seemed to Freud less of an error than the attempt to film psychoanalysis itself. His main objection against its visual representation remained that "I do not consider it possible to represent our abstractions graphically in any respectable manner." (Freud an Abraham, 9.6.1925)