The Freud Scenario
Jean-Paul Sartre, J. B. Pontalis
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In 1958 the American film director John Huston asked Jean-Paul Sartre to write a scenario for a film about Sigmund Freud. The scenario was to concentrate on the conflict-ridden period of Freud's life when he abandoned hypnosis and invented psychoanalysis.
Intrigued and financially tempted, Sartre accepted the commission. The Freud Scenario, recently discovered in the papers he left after his death, is the result. It is a fluent portrait of a man engaged in a personal and intellectual struggle which was to prove a major turning point in 20th-c thought.
Sartre did not regard his work for Huston as a diversion from his overall intellectual project. Freud's preoccupations with female hysteria and the father relationship touched major themes in his own work. The fact that The Prisoners of Altona, The Family Idiot and Words are all in some way derived from it, underscores the scenario as a seminal moment in Sartre's development.
When Huston made his film Freud, The Secret Passion, he declined to use Sartre's work and the philosopher's name was excised from the credits at his own request. Huston had asked Sartre to cut a voluminous draft, a request which Sartre met, characteristically, by re-submitting a still longer version.
Written for a Hollywood audience, The Freud Scenario demonstrates that in addition to Sartre's towering intellect he enjoyed a genuinely popular touch. Already widely acclaimed in France, this volume stands as a major testament to two of the most influential minds in modern history.