Exploring Faith and Philosophy: ‘Freud’s Last Session’ Shines at AFI Fest

Don’t miss “Freud’s Last Session,” a powerful exploration of faith and intellect, as it premieres at AFI Fest.

On October 27, 2023, Anthony Hopkins and Matthew Goode graced the AFI Film Fest with their remarkable performances in “Freud’s Last Session.”

A Meeting of Minds: Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis

In this intellectual drama, Anthony Hopkins takes on the role of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, engaging in a private debate with Matthew Goode, who portrays C.S. Lewis, the renowned author and theologian. This imagined encounter delves into the existence of God, sparking a captivating dialogue. While there is no historical evidence of such a meeting, it provides a rich tapestry for the mind.

The play and subsequent movie adaptation were inspired by Dr. Armond M. Nicholi Jr’s 1967 Harvard lectures titled “The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life.”

Bringing the Stage to Screen

Mark St. Germain, the playwright, has successfully adapted his work for the silver screen, collaborating with director Matthew Brown. Their challenge was to transform a primarily dialog-driven, intellectual piece into a cinematic experience. The film incorporates flashbacks of war, love, and family conflicts while preserving the core of the story: a profound discussion between two intellectual giants.

A Reflection of Our Times

“Freud’s Last Session” not only explores the events of 1939, three weeks before Freud’s suicide at the age of 83, but it also resonates with our current world, marked by division and entrenched beliefs. Against the backdrop of a world on the brink of war, this film explores the disheartening signs of a world falling apart.

Insights into Brilliant Minds

The film invites us into the minds of these brilliant thinkers, allowing us to witness their debate on core religious beliefs. Freud, a staunch non-believer in God, and Lewis, a hopeful and spiritual writer, stand at odds. The director skillfully weaves in visual representations of their thoughts, from Lewis’s forests to Freud’s darker visions and dream imagery.

A Glimpse into Personal Histories

The movie provides a glimpse into the personal histories of these two great minds. We learn about Freud’s childhood, life in Vienna, and his complex relationship with his daughter, Anna. Lewis’s story includes flashbacks to his time on the battlefield in World War I, his friendship with Paddy Moore, and his vow to care for each other’s single parents. Lewis’s close friendship with other literary giants is explored through his membership in The Inklings. Despite other diversions, the film always returns to the central theme of an open dialogue between two profoundly different men, one of whom is aware of his impending death.

A Showcase of Outstanding Performances

What truly makes this film a must-see for serious cinephiles are the exceptional performances, particularly from Anthony Hopkins. Known for his ability to bring historical figures to life, Hopkins takes on the role of Freud with enthusiasm, delving into the nuances of the character. His portrayal is riveting, reminiscent of his recent Oscar-winning performance in “The Father.”

Matthew Goode delivers an equally impressive performance, skillfully balancing his role alongside Hopkins and his character’s complicated relationship with Paddy Moore.

Visualizing Intellectual Ideas

Director Matthew Brown, known for “The Man Who Knew Infinity,” has successfully transformed an intellectual dialogue into a visually engaging experience. In a narrative driven by words and ideas, Brown’s efforts to keep the film visually captivating are commendable.

Audiences who embrace this thought-provoking fictional encounter will find themselves pondering its implications long after the credits roll.

Meet the Producers

The film was made possible by the efforts of producers Alan Griesman, Hannah Leader, Tristan Orpen Lynch, Rick Nicita, Robert Stillman, and Meg Thomson.

Don’t miss “Freud’s Last Session,” a powerful exploration of faith and intellect, as it premieres at AFI Fest.

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