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Collection Sigmund Freud Papers

Home Movies and Other Films in the Sigmund Freud Papers at the Library of Congress

Housed in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division and presented on the Library of Congress website are eleven Sigmund Freud "home movies" (ten titles) made between 1928 and 1939, the last decade or so of Freud's life. By 1928, Freud had already undergone several operations for cancer of the jaw and palate. Many of the films reveal the acute discomfort of the prosthesis he wore. Yet despite his failing health, the films also reveal Freud as man who still delighted in his family, grandchildren, dogs, visitors, and the beautiful natural surroundings of his summer retreats. Featured are quiet domestic scenes, large family celebrations, the arrival of guests, and the enjoyment of gardens. More ominously, the films also show a swastika-draped Vienna during May Day celebrations in May 1938 and Freud's arrival in Paris after fleeing Nazi-controlled Austria in June.

According to Anna Freud, who narrated clips from the home movies in the late 1970s, most of the films were made by American composer Mark Brunswick who was married to American psychoanalyst Ruth Mack Brunswick and by Princess Marie Bonaparte, a French psychoanalyst and Freud's analysand. The earliest films are in black and white. Some of the films made by Marie Bonaparte between 1937 and 1939 are in color. All together these films represent more than an hour of viewing.

The Freud home movies fall into three categories based on location.

The first category consists of films made during sojourns away from the Freud home in Vienna. The earliest is a film made in 1928 at Ernst Simmel's Sanatorium Schloss Tegel where Freud stayed while a new prosthesis was being made for him in Berlin. Other films were made during the Freud family's summer retreats. In 1929 and 1930 these took place respectively amid the breathtaking scenery of Schneewinkel in the Bavarian Alps and Lake Grundlsee in Austria. From 1931 to 1937 the family remained tethered to Vienna in the summers, renting villas in the suburbs which were chosen for the quality of their outdoor spaces and their proximity to medical care as Freud's health declined.

The second category consists of films made in the Freuds' home at Berggasse 19 in Vienna. Shot in the winter of 1937 by Marie Bonaparte, the films show the rooms where psychoanalysis evolved: the waiting room where Bonaparte and others would await appointments, Freud's consulting room, and his study that housed his desk and much of his antiquities collection. Also shown are Anna Freud's rooms and the home's kitchen, dining room, and courtyard. The interior scenes are unfortunately poorly lit. Another of the Vienna films, shot in color, includes the street scenes of May Day celebrations in 1938 after the Anschluss. A child waves a swastika while swastika banners hang on buildings near the Freud home.

The final group of films records Freud's departure from Vienna and resettlement in London. These films, made by Marie Bonaparte, begin on the rooftop terrace of her home in Paris where Freud rested briefly before continuing onto London in June 1938. Other films show the Freud family in their new home at 20 Maresfield Gardens, capturing the quotidian moments of their transplanted lives. One of the last films of Freud is in his London garden where family and friends gathered to celebrate what would be his last birthday in May 1939.

Also available online, in addition to the Freud home movies, is a film made and narrated by Sándor Lorand, a Hungarian psychoanalyst who immigrated to the United States in 1925. The film chronicles the Eleventh Congress of the International Psychoanalytical Association held in Oxford, England, in July 1929. Lorand introduces dozens of prominent psychoanalysts as they gathered for the congress.

List of Films