Oscar Night: A Psychologist Goes to the Movies
With Black Swan (not ‘The Black Swan’, my kids yell at me, just ‘Black Swan’!) and The King’s Speech up for the Best Movie of the Year Oscar, and because I am tired of watching the Academy Awards and not having a clue what’s going on, I went to the movies.
Both movies are character studies. Both center on a flawed protagonist. One is fatally flawed, the other wounded but able to fight back. Interestingly, in Black Swan, Natalie Portman as Nina, is painfully on her own. The story is fiction and meant to horrify. In the King’s Speech, the film-makers take care to be accurate and the point of the film is to be uplifting. I found both films to be very good, even though they were very different.
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“As a movie fan, it held my attention,” said Dr. Steve Lamberti, professor of psychiatry at University of Rochester Medical Center. “It was poetic in a way, showing this transformation gone wrong.”
But speaking as a psychiatrist, Lamberti said the film did not accurately depict schizophrenia, as has been widely speculated, but “does present a reasonable portrait of psychosis.”
“People tend to be scared of things they don’t understand,” he said. “If you have never treated or observed a person with psychosis, it’s upsetting.”
In the other, King George VI, Bertie, played by Colin Firth, had a therapist.
“In the Oscar-nominated movie “The King’s Speech,” King George VI begins stuttering at 4 and struggles with it throughout his life. But he rarely talks like the stereotypical stutterer, Porky Pig, rapidly repeating letter sounds; usually the king has trouble getting sounds out from the get-go, blocked by sputtering pauses.
His stutter is aggravated by stressful situations, like confronting his brother or addressing the public. He speaks better when playing with his daughters, singing words or inserting profanity, or when music blaring in his ears keeps him from hearing himself.
These are complicated symptoms, but experts say these details, devised by a screenwriter who stuttered, mirror many aspects of actual stuttering.”
Photo Agence France-Presse