Venice Film Festival Day 3: Viggo Mortensen Plays Freud; Kate Winslet Honored

9:46 AM PST 09/02/2011 by Eric J. Lyman
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Mortensen, who plays Sigmund Freud in David Cronenberg's drama, calls for the release of private letters between Freud and Carl Jung. Winslet appears in three films at the fest.

VENICE -- The actors that played Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung in David Cronenberg’s latest drama, A Dangerous Method, had different strategies for understanding their parts -- Viggo Mortensen (Freud) said he intently studied the letters between the two men that the screenplay was based on, while Michael Fassbener (Jung) joked that he learned everything he needed to know from a book on Jung written for children.
 
However unlikely that combination, it worked: the film, which explored the friendship and eventual rivalry between the two groundbreaking psychoanalysts at odds over an attractive young patient (played by Keira Knightley) was warmly received when it screened as Friday night’s main event in the Sala Grande at the 68th Venice Film Festival.

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Mortensen took advantage of speaking in front of a standing room only crowd of journalists to call on the Jung estate to release hundreds of letters between the two men he said they are keeping under lock and key in order to help historians understand their relationship better.

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"The correspondence we have seen between Freud and Jung is so fascinating that it would be thrilling and very informative to have access to all the letters," Mortensen said.
 
Also premiering Friday was Mildred Pierce, an HBO miniseries directed by Todd Haynes, who was celebrated in Venice four years ago for the unorthodox Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There.
 
Mildred Pierce, which was based on a 1941 novel of the same name, tells a story of economic hardship set during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The film is also a remake of a 1945 film noir production, and Haynes said his version of the story “focuses more on the economic realities of the depression than the original movie did” -- something particularly relevant in the current economic climate.

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"It shows the kinds of difficulties people faced at the time, and it shows the importance of leadership,” Haynes said. “I wish we had a Roosevelt to help us now."
 
The film starred Guy Pearce, Kate Winslet, and Evan Rachel Wood -- the last two of whom are on the Venice Lido for more than one project. Wood also appeared in George Clooney’s Ides of March, the festival’s opening night film, while Winslet, who said her role in Mildred Pierce was her most difficult part since Titanic in 1997, also stars in Roman Polanski’s Carnage, which premiered in Venice Thursday, and in Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, which will premiere Saturday. Mildred Pierce and Contagion are both screening out of competition, while Carnage is in the running for Venice’s Golden Lion prize.
 
Winslet was also the honoree of a special prize for achievement at Venice’s Cipriani Hotel late Thursday.
 
"It just so happens that the last 15 months of my life are all screening here during a three-day span," Winslet said.
 
Also on Friday, pop music icon Madonna -- whose second directorial effort, the Wallis Simpson biopic W.E., premièred Thursday -- was given the Gucci Award for Women in Cinema at a private dinner at Ai Granai delle Zitelle.
 
Al Pacino, who will have a special VIP dinner in his honor Saturday, arrived on the Lido Friday in connection with out-of-competition drama Wilde Salome, his latest directorial effort. James Franco, the director of the Sal Mineo documentary, Sal, which will debut Saturday in the Horizons sidebar, and Soderbergh also arrived Friday.

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