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Kino on Video presents
Secrets of a Soul (1926)

"I dreamt terrible things"
- The Husband (Werner Krauss)

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: February 18, 2008

Stars: Werner Krauss, Ruth Weyher, Pavel Pavlov, Jack Trevor
Director: G.W. Pabst

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for violent Freudian imagery
Run Time: 01h:15m:28s
Release Date: February 19, 2008
UPC: 738329059026
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-C+B C+

DVD Review

Whether you believe in the benefits of psychoanalysis or not, there's no doubting the effects that it has had since Freud and company worked out its basics in the early part of the twentieth century. The rising fame of the process naturally made its way into other parts of society, including film, which brings us to the disc at hand. Secrets of a Soul was a production spearheaded by producer Hans Neumann, was intended to demonstrate just how useful this new technique could be in clearing up mental problems. As a film, it's certainly got some worthwhile moments, but as a ad for psychoanalysis, it's less convincing.

The husband (Werner Krauss) and wife (Ruth Weyher) lead a tranquil, happy existence until a gruesome murder of a neighbor sparks troubling mental problems in the husband. He finds himself unable to touch knives, and he is plagued by murderous impulses and terrifying dreams. He finally turns to Dr. Orff (Pavel Pavlov) in the hopes of getting to the bottom of the issues he is struggling with.

I don't know enough about psychoanalysis to judge its presentation here, but when the husband's "cure" takes months to effect, and boils down to something fairly obvious, it doesn't say much for the process. Or the script, more to the point. But I'm judging that through a mindset shaped in whatever unconscious ways by Freudian thought for the last few decades; audiences of the time might not have felt the same way. That said, the general basis for the story makes sense. One can read the Freudian nature of the various symbols (fear of knives, hmm, what could they represent?) and figure things out for themselves. The film's main drawbacks are the somewhat silly resolution to the husband's therapy and the amazingly cheesy epilogue, in which we see that the underlying problems of the husband is solved, and he only now seems aware of it (this makes more sense when seen).

The cast and crew do a fine job, though Krauss, whose character is supposed to be the same age as his wife and cousin (Jack Trevor), looks like he's at least fifteen years older than them. The dream sequences boast some inventive visuals in presenting the husband's inner torments. I can't say this a film I would ever re-visit, but it's interesting enough for what it is, and certainly worth a look for the curious and silent fans.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The film is licensed from the FW Murnau Stiftung, but if it's been restored, it doesn't especially show it. There are often lines on the film (including a thick, horizontal white stripe along part of the image for about a minute), and the transfer itself shows some unstability in certain spots. Not great, but not awful either.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0music onlyno

Audio Transfer Review: A piano score by Ekkehard Wolk adds the appropriate tones to the film, and it sounds perfectly fine in 2.0 stereo.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Production Notes
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: A series of text screens (31 in all, which include a few of stills) detail the making of the film and the reaction amongst Freud's circle, where the film was not universally appreciated. Well worth the time to get some background on this interesting project.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

A curiosity from the silent era, worth a look for devotees and those interested in dream sequences and the surreal. A solid if unexceptional disc from Kino.


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