In 1958, the US director John Huston asked Jean-Paul Sartre to write a scenario for a film about Sigmund Freud. Huston wanted Sartre to concentrate on the conflict-ridden period of Freud’s life when he abandoned hypnosis and invented psychoanalysis. The Freud Scenario, discovered in Sartre’s papers after his death, is the result—a deft portrait of a man engaged in a personal and intellectual struggle that would prove a turning point in twentieth-century thought.
Sartre did not regard this script as a diversion from his larger intellectual project. Freud’s preoccupations with female hysteria and the father relationship touched on major themes in his own work, and Loser Wins, The Family Idiot and Words, some of Sartre’s most celebrated publications, are all in some way derived from his work for Huston.
Written for a Hollywood audience, The Freud Scenario demonstrates that, in addition to a towering intellect, Sartre enjoyed a genuine popular touch. Already widely acclaimed in France, The Freud Scenario stands as a valuable testament to two of the most influential minds in modern history.