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New Film Imagines C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Wrestling With Mortality, the Existence of God

freud's last session
Image courtesy of Sony Pictures

A new film starring Anthony Hopkins as Sigmund Freud and Matthew Goode as C.S. Lewis explores the idea of the existence of God through a fictitious conversation the two men have on the brink of World War II. “Freud’s Last Session” is based on Mark St. Germain’s play of the same name, which in turn is based on Armand Nicholi’s book, “The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life.”

“On the eve of the Second World War, two of the greatest minds [of] the twentieth century, C.S. LEWIS and SIGMUND FREUD converge for their own personal battle over the existence of God,” says a synopsis of the film from Sony Pictures. “FREUD’S LAST SESSION interweaves the lives of Freud and Lewis, past, present, and through fantasy, bursting from the confines of Freud’s study on a dynamic journey.”

‘Freud’s Last Session’ Depicts a Meeting of Giants

“Freud’s Last Session” is directed by Matt Brown (“The Man Who Knew Infinity”). Its stars, Hopkins and Goode, are acclaimed actors and winners of numerous awards; most notably Hopkins has won two Academy Awards for Best Actor, one for 1991’s “Silence of the Lambs” and one for 2020’s “The Father.” Goode is known for his roles in “The Imitation Game,” “Downton Abbey,” and “The Crown.” The film also stars Liv Lisa Fries as Freud’s daughter, Anna.

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Notably, Hopkins played C.S. Lewis 30 years ago in “Shadowlands,” a movie about the author’s relationship with Joy Davidman.

Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist who lived from 1836 to 1939, is sometimes called “the father of modern psychology.” He is known for his views on sexuality, the unconscious, and dreams. Freud was an atheist who saw the belief in God as a fantasy stemming from the desire for a father figure. 

C.S. Lewis was an Irish scholar who lived from 1898 to 1963 and who taught at Oxford University and Cambridge University in England. He famously converted from atheism to Christianity and became a well-known apologist for the latter. Lewis was the author of numerous books, including “Mere Christianity,” “The Weight of Glory,” and “The Screwtape Letters.” He is perhaps best known for his children’s series, “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

It is not known that Freud and Lewis ever met in real life, but “Freud’s Last Session” imagines what it could have been like for the two great thinkers to have had a day-long conversation about God and mortality a mere two days after the start of the Second World War. “Both characters wind up in their own therapy sessions, and by the end, they’re both having to confront their own demons,” Brown told Vanity Fair

“At the core…we’re all cowards before death,” Freud tells Lewis in the trailer.