Knightley stars in film on birth of psychoanalysis

Fri Sep 2, 2011 10:29am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - Canadian director David Cronenberg's latest movie "A Dangerous Method" explores the role a little-known Russian woman played in the birth of psychoanalysis at the turn of the 20th century.

Between the recognized titans of the discipline Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, played respectively by Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender, came Sabina Spielrein, portrayed by Keira Knightley.

The psychologically troubled, fiercely intelligent young woman was a real-life patient first of Jung and later Freud.

Some historians also believe she had an affair with Jung, and in the film he sets out on a path of sexual liberation and obsession with his charge prompted by the debauched and dangerous Otto Gross.

For Knightley, a role involving scenes of hysteria and sexual spanking was a departure from the demure, restrained characters for which she is best known.

Asked whether she enjoyed the role, she told reporters in Venice where the film has its world premiere on Friday: "It's great fun. I'm an actress so I'm obviously crazy anyway so I think I drew on that. It's fine."

Cronenberg joked that he chose his cast based on their need for treatment.

"I'd like to just say that my cast has a great need of psychoanalysis -- it was why I cast then actually.   Continued...

<p>Actress Keira Knightley poses during a photocall for her film "A Dangerous Method" which is in competition at the 68th Venice Film Festival September 2, 2011. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi</p>