Spring 2019


Cinema as Psyche in Projection

One of C.G. Jung’s greatest contributions to psychological understanding was the concept that archetypal energies are powerful, dynamic, transpersonal forces that can seize and possess individual as well as collective imagination. Few in modern times have a proper appreciation of the immensity and power of the collective unconscious, yet it manifests itself in every aspect of human endeavour—through our conscious thought and action, our unconsciously driven compulsions and compensations, as well as our collective behaviours throughout history.

We will analyze film and filmmaking from the inside out. We’ll explore archetypal movements within the genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror in order to decipher how the collective unconscious uses primordial imagery to correct psychological deficiencies and to effect the realization of the self.

Note: This course involves film screenings.

A $62 discount will be applied automatically for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1

An overview of fundamental Jungian concepts such as ego, archetype, shadow, anima/animus, complexes, projection, and individuation will lead us to an exploration of how these processes and mechanisms aid psychological health. We will discuss how these psychic structures can be unconsciously animated in individuals and groups through encounters in genre-specific cinematic experiences.

We will use a Jungian approach to analyze film and film-making in our selected genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Week 2

The Matrix (Wachowskis, 1999). We explore key themes in the psychology of the film-makers and the fruit of their creative endeavour—a visionary science-fiction film that reflects psychic movements underlying Jung’s individuation imperative and the eternal questions troubling and animating human existence.

The Fountain (Aronofsky, 2006). Blending elements of fantasy, history, spirituality and science fiction, this film is highly symbolic and we use it to further elaborate how its mythic approach is a metaphor for both an individual’s struggle with death, loss and grieving, and also for the timeless movements of the archetypes.

Week 3

Melancholia (Von Triers, 2011). We take a look at this psychological science-fiction drama, which was inspired by the director/writer’s depression and was the second in his “depression trilogy,” to see the compensatory movements of psyche for correcting imbalance.

Arrival (Villeneuve/Chiang, 2016). The idea of communicating with extraterrestrials and learning a common, symbolic language in this science-fiction drama lends itself well to comparison with the collective unconscious as a universal substrate for the human psyche, full of symbolic images, metaphor and paradox.

American Gods (Starz TV series, 2017). We end our class with the mention of a recent science-fiction/horror development on TV that portrays the battle between the Old Gods (archetypes of the collective unconscious) and the New Gods (contemporary replacements for the old religions).

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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