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Farmington Hills: 248 851-3380 |  Ann Arbor: 734 213-3399

Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

Reel Deal I: The Night of the Hunter

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The Night of the Hunter (1955)

A film by Charles Laughton

Sunday, October 26
1-3 pm
Bloomfield Township Library

Featured Speakers:
Elliot Wilhelm, Curator, Detroit Film Theater
Jolyn Welsh Wagner, MD, Psychoanalyst

The Night of the Hunter (1955) is an iconic film that captures the nightmarish experience of trauma from a child’s point of view. This two hour program will explore the unique way that (first time) director Charles Laughton adapted Davis Grubb’s novel, using a daring visual style and an unforgettable musical score to vividly re-create feelings of children’s vulnerability, helplessness and fear. Film and psychoanalysis have long understood the impact of a child’s “story” and have much to teach each other. Elliot Wilhelm will provide an opportunity to understand this film “close up” and to prepare us for a lively discussion. Please join us!

Visit our website at: www.reeldealmind.org

For more information, call Jolyn Wagner, M.D. (248-840-2662) or Monica Simmons at 248-851-3380 No advance registration required.

Practice Gap

Mental Health Professionals are often challenged to understand the consequences of traumatic childhood events, whether treating children or adults. The Night of the Hunter (1955) is an iconic film that captures the nightmarish experience of trauma from a child’s point of view. This two hour program will explore the unique way that (first time) director Charles Laughton adapted Davis Grubb’s novel, using visual style and film knowledge to vividly re-create feelings of children’s vulnerability, helplessness and fear. Film and psychoanalysis have long understood the impact of a child’s “story” though both have often substituted authentic childhood experience with adultomorphic explanations.

Goals and objectives: At the conclusion of program, which will utilize clips from the film and a detailed discussion by a film expert and a psychoanalyst, participants will be able to:

1. Identify aspects of magical thinking (portrayed poignantly throughout the film by capturing a dream-like quality) so characteristic of childhood cognition, which can appear as creative or constricting solutions.

2. Discuss the ubiquity of polarized thinking: “black-white” “good-evil” “chaste-sinful” and the manipulative power when used to exploit those searching for simple guidelines.

3. Challenge and discuss countertransference enactments that minimize or deny the dependency of children and the tragedies that occur when such needs are discounted (by parental figures, therapists or filmgoers). Understanding some of the reasons that this film (now appreciated as a masterpiece) was initially snubbed and scorned will assist in recognizing the pervasive uneasiness generated by an invitation to re-experience childhood at an emotional level.