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The Independent Critic

Eva Osterberg, Lasse Almeback, Mercedes Csampai, and Natalia Usmanova
Elisabeth Merton
Elisabeth Merton, Signe Mahter, and Yolande Knobel
90 Mins.
Facets Video (DVD)
German (English Subtitles)
Facets Cine-Notes; Collectible Booklet; Scene Selection

 "My Name Was Sabina Spielrein" Review 
Constructed from letters and diaries discovered in a Swiss basement, Elisabeth Merton's My Name Was Sabina Spielrein is a dramatic re-enactment capturing the story of a previously unknown relationship between young psychotherapist Carl Jung and his first patient, Ms. Spielrein. The film utilizes the letters of Jung, Spielrein and Sigmund Freud to come up with a remarkable film incorporating both re-enactments and dreamlike imagery to capture the story of a woman whose life had been lost in history.

First released in 2002, My Name Was Sabina Spielrein captured the FIPRESCI Prize at the Sochi International Film Festival and was released by Tango Films. It's being re-released on DVD thanks to those fabulous folks at Facets Video in Chicago complete with their rapidly growing trademark, Cine-Notes (tm).

Spielrein was a 19-year-old Russian Jew when she first came to the attention of the 29-year-old Jung. It is unknown if the "relationship" was ever consummated, but it is almost certain that it crossed the boundaries widely recognized today for the therapeutic relationship. The relationship, however, was even more complicated as Spielrein would eventually finish her own medical studies and become an acclaimed child psychoanalyst. It would seem that Spielrein would long be obsessed with the married Jung, harboring ongoing delusions of a deeper than what actually existed relationship. There are some who theorize that Jung actually, at least partly, plagiarized from her work and Spielrein was central to a rift that grew between Jung and Freud. She would eventually marry and have two daughters, though she and her daughters were killed in 1942 when German troops rounded up the Jews in her town and massacred them.

While Merton's film seeks to restore Spielrein's place in history, her obsession with the relationship between Spielrein and Jung often portrays the under-appreciated Spielrein in a lesser light. As well, the film's presence as a sort of docu-drama lacks the pacing and energy necessary to give audiences an emotional investment into the story. At times, the film is quite poignant while at others it is simply rather boring.

For more information on My Name Was Sabina Spielrein, visit the film's Facets Video page.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic