Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Hampton’

The Writers’ Guild Awards

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 20th January, 2015

The Writers GuildSandi ToksvigLast night I was at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for the Writers’ Guild Awards, of which ALCS (on whose Board I sit) is a sponsor. The setting was suitably glitzy and the host, Sandi Toksvig, in scintillating, cheeky form. Among the presenters, nominees and audience were such luminaries as Howard Brenton, Christopher Hampton and Steve Coogan. But many of the winners were unjustifiably less well-known names, as with both radio and TV, as well as in the cinema, it is often the actors and maybe the director who gets most of the credit, not the poor bloody writers. The whole point of the Writers’ Guild is to stand up for writers and the annual awards are a good way of highlighting talent and hard work. Among the winners last night were Marcus Brigstocke (Best Radio Comedy: The Brig Society), Rebecca Wojciechowski (Best Long-running TV series: Holby City), Nathan Filer (Best First Novel: The Shock of the Fall) and Sally Wainwright (Best Long Form TV Drama: Happy Valley). There was also a moving tribute to William (Bill) Ash, master storyteller and trade unionist, who died last May. Part of the point of such award events is for people in the industry — many of whom, including me, fit the caricature of the solitary writer in dressing gown and slippers working for hours on end at the computer at home — but the Awards also help promote the work of the winners as well as raise the profile of the craft itself.

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A Dangerous Method

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 13th February, 2012

The dynamic between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung was one of the most fascinating and enigmatic of the early 20th Century, inevitably shaping the development of psychoanalysis and related fields. No wonder it proved such a tempting theme for Christopher Hampton in his play, The Talking Cure. Hampton subsquently wrote the screenplay for the film A Dangerous Method, which is now on general release in cinemas in the UK. David Cronenberg’s direction is deliberately slow-paced, befitting the elegant twilight of Mitteleuropa in the years before the Great War. The Austrian and Swiss settings are truly beautiful, as indeed are the clothes, especially amongst the haute bourgeoisie. One paradox in the Freud-Jung dynamic was that it was the young man who had the wealth (through his extraordinarily forbearing wife) as well as the ethnic security that would soon become such an issue. Michael Fassbender plays Jung rather like a junior civil servant of good family, very punctilious and eager for advancement, until the floodgates of passion are opened in a totally unprofessional way by his patient and later colleague, the ravishing Russian Jewess, Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley, who puts more demented, jaw-distorting vigour into this role than one might have expected from this graduate of Pirates of the Caribbean). Viggo Mortensen is oddly cast as Freud, looking nothing like him, but as he revealed in a recent interview in the Camden New Journal, he did a huge amount of research into the personality he was portraying, not just through reading books but also travelling to Vienna to soak up the atmosphere. Mortensen says that what struck him most about Freud was his sense of humour, though this impishness doesn’t really manifest itself in the this film. Instead, viewing leaves one with the sadness of nostalgia for a byegone age and for the failure of people to adequately communicate with and tolerate each other. The end credits remind one that Spielrein, after returning to Russia, was taken by the invading Nazis to a synagogue in World War II and shot. Freud managed to flee, with difficulty, to L0ndon, with some but not all of his large family. And so psychoanalysis migrated from the German-speaking world to the English-speaking world. Yet I am left feeling that this film would have worked far better in German, though of course Hollywood would never have put up with that!

Rating: ***

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