Book Review - Rent Two Films and Let's Talk in the Morning: Using Popular Movies in Psychotherapy, John W. Hesley & Jan G. Hesley, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1998, pps. 305

Reviewed by John A. Speyrer

It has been long known that feelingful movies can help to trigger deep feelings in a person undergoing primal or some of the other regressive psychotherapies. During the 1970s Dr. Arthur Janov used what he called "primal movies" to help elicit such feelingful memories. In The Primal Revolution, he wrote. "These movie nights are not quite what one sees in a regular movie theater. The purpose of an art form such as the movies is to elicit feelings. What happens in the usual movie house is that feelings are evoked but then must be squelched out of embarrassment, fear of disturbing others, or whatever. . . . At the Institute, the audience reacts. Scenes that are emotional trigger off Primals, as the patient simply rolls over and has his Primal." (p. 259).

Thomas A. Stone in Cure by Crying writes that movies are one of the easiest ways to do self-regression therapy. He writes that one can discharge old pain alone by finding a movie which makes you cry. Concentrate on those parts of the movie that brings up feelings. But the memory has to be accessible, he believes, since repressed memories arise in a definite sequence. However, that sequence is often ignored by one's keeper of the secrets if one's here-in-the-now feeling is powerful enough to tap into memories even "before their time." So if you have not arrived at that particular feeling memory in your therapy, viewing a movie which duplicates the feeling might have no or little effect, unless its a biggie. (pp. 21-22).

That particular feeling may eventually arise, but then, how long can it take and who wants to wait for decades? If ever there was one, this is a legitimate complaint about the deep feeling regressive therapies, although Ingeborg Bosch might have a solution to that problem!

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Rent Two Films. . . was not written as a helpful guide in using video rentals for regressing. The husband and wife therapists/authors believe that movies help their clients to identify with the characters of the movie. They feel that talking about the film after its viewing is helpful in clarifying issues. Films they write, are "therapeutic metaphors," and suggest new actions by recommending movies in which characters attempt new solutions to their problems. They also feel that it is important to show examples of act outs that have unfortunate consequences.

About seventy-five per cent of the book comprises a listing of feelingful popular movies. This is the part which would be helpful to those in regressive or primal-type therapies. Adequate plots of from one to two pages suffice to give the reader a good idea of what the movie is about. The authors also explain how they use a particular film in their therapy practice.

Ratings are broken down into about twenty separate categories, but not according to feelings which may be induced. Some film categories include, Abuse - Emotional, Physical & Sexual, Adoption and Custody, Aging, Chronic Illness and Disabilities, Death and Dying, Emotional and Affective Disorders, Family-of Origin Issues, Grief and Loss, Intimate Relationships, Parent-Child Relationships, Stepparenting and Blended Families.

Part three of Rent Two Films. . . expands the films listed in the section described above and also makes it easier to locate a film dealing with a particular subject. One hundred and thirty-two films are listed in this section with shorter plots of three or four sentences in length.

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Because of the subjectiveness of whether a film is useful as a primal movie, I hesitate to recommend any particular movie, but I'll do it anyhow! My alltime favorite "primal" film is Tous Les Matins Du Monde (1992 - French with English subtitles). In the U.S. it was available as All the Mornings of the World. I have found that sometimes the background music in a particular film is almost as conducive to primals as the feelings of the movie. That was the case with this movie. I found its music and plot of unrequited love to be extraordinarily complimentary.

A remarkable success, the film sold over 2 million tickets in France during the first year of its release and has been distributed in thirty-one countries. While most other used VHS video tapes sell for $4 or $5, the one used copy presently being offered for sale at is priced at $50.00!

This award-winning French film opened up a new appreciation of vocal baroque church music in me. If you like 17th century French baroque music you might enjoy the film clips on Utube from this film and others. Check them out here. It is the only film which I have used many dozens of times to elicit primals, and it has still not lost its magic. But the film is about my issues - not yours, so no guarantees! (See movie review)

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Also see Cinematherapy: The Girl's Guide to Movies for Every Mood 1999 and Advanced Cinematherapy: The Girl's Guide for Finding Happiness One Movie At a Time2002, by Nancy K. Peske and Beverly West. Check out for reviews and detailed excerpts from these two books. Peske and West are prolific authors; their movie reviews are funny and often cutesy. They offer a novel, feminine (?) approach to selecting films.

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Another excellent source of film reviews is a website established by the New York University School of Medicine which lists over hundreds of feelingful movies. Besides furnishing a short plot, all of the emotional issues in each movie are listed. Often there are too many listed, which makes it difficult to choose one movie since one does not know if the feeling only occupies a small portion of the film or whether it is its main issue. While not indexed by specific feeling, the keywords index can be helpful in locating movies containing particular feelings and/or issues.

By clicking on one the keywords present in any movie you select, you can find issues in the remaining movies in the database which also relate to that particular issue. See Literature, Arts & Medicine Database at NY University. In the column on the left, under Performing Arts, click on Film/Video/TV Adaptations. Naturally there is some overlap in the movies listed on this website and in Rent Two Films. . . and the other Girl's Guide books mentioned. but that is beneficial, because if you find the same movie recommended in more than one source it has a better chance of eliciting feelings in you.

There is no reason why you can't be entertained while resolving your early hurts! The movies which you will enjoy the most are usually the ones which are about your personal issues.

Also, on this website see Music As a Regressive Aid in The Deep-Feeling Psychotherapies