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"Movies on the Mind" exhibition showcases interplay of psychology and film

     "Every dream will turn out to be a meaningful psychological entity."
     "And when you, as a detective, participate in the investigation of a murder, do you really expect to find that the murderer has left behind his photograph at the scene of the crime...?" 
                                                                            ---- Sigmund Freud

     Dreams, repression, memory, hysteria, narcissism, scopophilia are key subjects of Freud's psychoanalysis. They are also the subject of many films. Hong Kong Film Archive's (HKFA) new exhibition on "Movies on the Mind - Psychology and Film since Sigmund Freud" attempts to study the relationship between film and psychology through special settings, taking visitors to lie down on the psychiatrist's couch.

     The exhibition will be held from tomorrow (December 20) to March 15 at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA.

     In 1895, the Lumière brothers showed their first film and Sigmund Freud laid the cornerstone for psychoanalysis. In addition to the chronological parallel, there are numerous structural and contextual interconnections between film and psychology. The exhibition is dedicated to visualise the interplay of psychology and films.

     The multi-media exhibition comprises various sections starting with the first contact point between cinematography and psychoanalysis. The serial photographs of hysteria patients taken at the end of the 19th century to illustrate the stages of an illness will be on display.

     With thematic installations, impressive photographs, film posters, psychiatrist's couch, footages from films, interviews with actors, it will illustrate the complex "relationships" between the psychoanalyst and the patient, the investigative profiler and the psychopath, dream and interpretation, repression and memory, hysteria, psychoanalysis in cinema, drug-induced delirium, narcissism and identity and scopophila.

     "Movies on the Mind" is presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Hongkong. Concept of the exhibition originated from the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum for Film and Television in Berlin from where much of the displays and installations are borrowed.
     Two seminars will also be held at the Cinema of the HKFA to examine the issue: "Peeping into the Subconscious" at 4.30 pm on January 3 and "Acting out Psychopathic Personalities" at 4.30pm on January 17. A psychiatrist, film critics and actors will share their experience on film and psychology. The seminars will be conducted in Cantonese. Admissions to the exhibition and seminars are free.

     In addition, there will be screenings of 10 films delving into various aspects of psychoanalysis and psychological disorders from tomorrow (December 20) to February 6.

     The films to be screened are G. W. Pabst's "Secrets of a Soul"; Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and "Blackmail"; Ingmar Bergman's "Through a Glass Darkly"; David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr."; "Dead of Night"; Compton Bennett's "The Seventh Veil"; Patrick Tam's "Love Massacre"; Ringo Lam's "Victim" as well as Lo Chi-leung's "Inner Senses" starring Leslie Cheung. Tickets for some of the screenings have been sold out.

     The opening film, the German "Secrets of a Soul" (1926) was considered the first film about the "interpretation of dreams". It was originally a "teaching film" (lehrfilm), but director G. W. Pabst's precise mise-en-scène and sure-handed development of the plot turned it into a marvellous exercise in suspense. The screenings will have live music accompaniment by Yank Wong.

     Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece "Vertigo" (1958) was selected this year by the American Film Institute as one of the best mystery films in history. Hitchcock animates this suspenseful story with evocative cinematography and a superb music score, creating an edgy, tension-filled story that changed forever the definition of "psychedelic thriller". His other great thriller "Blackmail" (1929) was noted not only as the first feature-length British talkie, but also for its innovative employ of sound to create psychological effects.

     Directed by the Swedish master Ingmar Bergman, "Through a Glass Darkly" (1961) is marked by concise but unspectacular images, focusing instead on the inner voices. Dreams are often by turns logical and absurd, familiar but strange. David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr." (2001) is a labyrinth of a dream, where the conscious and subconscious clash and merge. The film won the Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001.

     Four British directors made "Dead of Night" (1945) into an intriguing film. Although each of the directors presents the story in a different way, each version is brilliantly told, keeping the audience on tenterhooks.

     It is said that a woman's heart has seven veils to hide different characters and she won't lift the last veil even to herself. Compton Bennett's "The Seventh Veil" (1945) uncovers the secret of subconsciousness and chronicles how a doctor removes his young pianist's seventh veil.

     Patrick Tam shot "Love Massacre" (1981) in primal tones of red, white and blue to magnify the sense of horror in the story. It is complemented by an extensive use of empty shots and frontal close-ups. The film has long been considered as an experimental classic in Hong Kong cinema in terms of plot, art direction and photography. The recently-restored version of the film will be shown. Not to be missed is the genre great Ringo Lam's "Victim" (1999), in which elements of horror films and hallucinatory images are added to the familiar crime-story scenario.

     "Mulholland Dr." has been classified as Category III and only ticket holders who are aged 18 and above will be admitted. All films are either in English or with English subtitles.

     Tickets priced at $40 are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009, credit card telephone booking on 2111 5999 or on the internet at

     Detailed programme information is available in the "ProFolio 44" distributed at all performing venues of the LCSD or call 2734 2900, 2739 2139 or visit or

Ends/Friday, December 19, 2008

The exhibition on "Movies on the Mind - Psychology and Film since Sigmund Freud" will be held from tomorrow (December 20) to March 15 at the Exhibition Hall of the Hong Kong Film Archive.


One of the zones in "Movies on the Mind - Psychology and Film since Sigmund Freud" exhibition.


One of the zones in "Movies on the Mind - Psychology and Film since Sigmund Freud" exhibition.



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