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15 great movies inspired by Psychoanalysis

15 great movies inspired by Psychoanalysis

January 24, 2023

The psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud It was one of the phenomena that had the most influence in the history of psychology. However, their influences go much further and over the decades have been reflected in all kinds of forms of artistic expression.

The cinema inspired by psychoanalysis is a good example of this: the language of the seventh art is perfect to capture powerful dreamlike images that remain etched in the retina. That is why the movies inspired by psychoanalysis they are a good way to see how symbology can be used in new ways to express psychological phenomena.

The best cinema based on psychoanalysis

Below you can see a selection of films influenced by psychoanalysis that, in one way or another, reflect the ideas and beliefs of Freud and his followers about the unconscious.


1. A dangerous method

More than an example of cinema inspired by Freud's work, it is directly part of the movies that deal with psychoanalysis and the beginning of the psychodynamic current. In it appear both Sigmund Freud and Carl G. Jung sharing prominence with Sabina Spielrein (Keira Nightley), a patient who later ended up working as a therapist.

This film shows how the theories about the unconscious mind became popular and became exported to the rest of the western world.

2. An Andalusian dog

One of the classics of European cinema, by the hand of the Spanish director Luis Buñuel. Although it is not exactly a film about psychoanalysis, since it is too short to be considered a feature film, this work wastes surrealism everywhere and it uses a dreamlike atmosphere to create powerful images. Freud's influence on this imagery is undeniable, for example, at the moment in which it is represented that an eye is cut, implying that a step is taken towards what is beyond appearances and conventions.


3. The black swan

A story about the sacrifices that have to be made to reach perfection and the consequences that this leaves on mental health. Natalie Portman plays a ballet dancer who, to reach the goal of her life, must transform into the black swan leaving behind her innocence and fragility. This effort will make her feel more and more detached from the reality she had learned to interpret while maintaining a discreet profile.

4. Surviving Life

A curious comedy directed by Jan Švankmajer about a married man who he has a double life in his dreams , with which surrealism runs freely through its frames. The scenes, produced from assemblies with pieces of photographs, make it a visually very impressive work.

5. Eraser head

As in virtually all David Lynch films, in this work there is no argument objectively. However, there are components in which the influence of psychoanalysis is clearly visible: the presence of a moral burden related to a disabled and malformed child , an oppressive environment and all kinds of ideas that are expressed ambiguously through extraordinary events.


6. Shame

Freudian psychoanalysis has always placed much emphasis on sexuality, to the point where it occupies a central role in the theory of psychological development proposed by Freud. In Shame, which tells the story of a man who channel your frustrations through sexual intercourse , this idea resonates in the background throughout the film.

7. Marquis

In this film directed by the French filmmaker Henri Xhonneux, the story of the confinement of the Marquis de Sade in the Bastille is told. Both sex and surrealism used to explain fantasies and dreams, as well as significant amounts of cheeky humor they shake hands in a story that, to be told, uses costumes designed by the illustrator Roland Topor.

8. Videodrome

One of the defining films of David Cronenberg's cinema. This talks about the role of screens as means through which project their own fantasies that, from Freudian theory, they remain hidden in the unconscious and emerge in subtle ways to try to satisfy primary needs.

The link between technology and the body of the human being is blurred, implying that even what seems to be the fruit of rationality is actually the product of deeply irrational forces.

9. The science of sleep

The protagonist of this film tries to escape from his reality taking refuge in your dreams , a universe in which almost everything is possible and that will allow you to act as if you had no responsibilities and a public image to watch over.

10. Canine

The process of acculturation and socialization has an important role in psychoanalysis, since in addition to providing education and means through which to survive, the family comes hand in hand with a series of norms that conflict with basic drives .

Canino is an experiment performed in fiction that shows what would happen if the system of meanings and the protection model were focused totally on the family, without taking into account anything else. In particular, the story is told of some young people who have been educated since they were little so as not to go beyond the limits of the garden of the house.

  • Related article: "The Theory of the Unconscious of Sigmund Freud (and the new theories)"

11. The mole

El Topo is probably Alejandro Jodorowsky's most well-known audiovisual work, and of course he is very influenced by the themes that are usually treated from the psychoanalytic conception of the mind. In particular, in this film, the importance of Sexuality expressed violently .

12. Blue velvet

Although to be a David Lynch film is fairly conventional, this work is strongly influenced by the oneirism that characterized the first forms of psychoanalysis . In fact, the director of this work has already said several times that his works (or at least part of them) are there to be interpreted freely.

13. The Fight Club

Being one of the most famous movies of the late 90s, one of the characteristics of this work that has penetrated the most is its iconography and the crude way of transmitting its messages. However, something that often escapes about this film is the fact that Tyler Durden, although it is characterized as what the protagonist wants to be, in reality only embodies the neuroses and vulnerabilities of the protagonist , a man in the midst of a crisis of identity that produces an activist and rebellious pretext to engage in destructive acts because he suffers all kinds of insecurities.

14. Take Shelter

This is one of the most recent films inspired by psychoanalysis . He talks about a family father who, faced with the fear of suffering the consequences of a natural disaster, begins to plan the construction of a bunker at the same time that he begins to see signs of disaster everywhere due to the incomprehension of his family and neighbors. The neuroticism of the protagonist is expressed in great detail.

15. My Winnipeg

A fake documentary about Winnipeg, the town where the director of this work lives (Guy Maddin). The premise is simple, but misleading: this film is an exercise in surrealism that leaves viewers with their mouths open and in which it is difficult to recognize what is real and what is dream .


The Psychology of Scary Movies (January 2023).


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