Based on the film “Safe” (1995) is about a girl named Carol who suffers from environmental chemicals and no one believes that she is sick.
She is from a privileged background and lives in a big house with her husband and son. After becoming sick, she relocated to a more Suburban area in Wrenwood Centre to seek treatment. Carol demonstrates that she is suffering from a strong mental illness.
She leaves behind her privileged life for an easier life because she is allergic to environmental chemicals. She is lost in her own world where she does not understand why she is falling ill. She is in the fear of losing herself to chemicals in the environment. Todd Hayne’s “Safe” (1995) can be interpreted through the theoretical understandings of Sigmund Freud, Nancy Chodorow, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. One of Freud’s theory focuses on human behaviour, and particularly the unconsciousness, that is collected of id, ego and superego. Chodorow theory is about femininity and masculinity and parenting of mothering. Marx focuses on the labour theory of value and capitalist theory. Engels theorizes about social conflict of class struggle and the goal of communism.
Provided that Freud’s theory of the behavior of mental illness and the unconsciousness, consciousness, preconscious of id, ego and superego can be related to the film “Safe” (1995). For this reason in the film, Carol was suffering from environmental chemicals and went to the health club for an intervention so that she could be safe from the environmental chemicals and from the pollution of the air in the city. This demonstrates a mental illness that Freud talks about where Carol believes she is sick and the doctor believes she is not sick. Freud’s understanding of mental illness is the pattern of behaviour where a person is repeated to self-punishment and the sources of human suffering where the body believes it will fail in small ways and the world of nature of the society. Freud states, “The life imposed on us is too hard for us to bear: it brings too much pain, too many disappointments, too many insoluble problems. If we are to endure it, we cannot do without palliative measures” (Freud, 1918, P.
14). For example, nature can kill you, nature can become unbearable and nature, such as the weather, can be very hostile and where one finds themselves having the need to be fed and warm. Not to mention Carol’s symptoms are comparable to the symptoms outlined in Freud’s theory of the behaviour of mental illness where Carol was constructing her own mental illness and critique of self-help in the illness, leading her to self-blame.
Another relationship can be made with “Safe” (1995) and Freud theory of the unconscious, the conscious and the preconscious. Freud believes that the preconscious is censored, meaning it is something that one is only aware of in a gentle or complex way and in long-term therapy. This theory is related to the film “Safe” (1995), where Carol believes she is sick and was not feeling well, but no one believed she was sick but was allergic to chemicals. This is related to Freud’s concept of ego, where it works between the conscious and preconscious. The superego is the device that exists on many levels. Freud established the concept of a link between the death drive and aggressive drive.
According to Freud, the primacy of the aggressive instinct in humans and the sublimation of our instincts and drives leads to civilization and is the easement of suffering through analysis. In other words, new human subjectivity and consciousness is created on the sublimation and drives the materialist concept of the human sensory experience. By all means, the Eros, love, life, sex, preservation and alongside a dualistic battle with Thanatos.
Therefore it allows you to regulate yourself, be accountable for you being an animal, as you are detached from the world and early in human in civilization, which is further and further away from reality. It can lead to a good life. Similarly, Chodorow theory on femininity and masculinity and the reproduction of mothering can be related to the film “Safe” (1995). Chodorow theorizes that the gender and sexual differentiation is defined by the presence and absence of masculinity and the phallus, rather than two separate presences. The teleological view of destiny is based on the biology of anatomical differences between the sexes. Chodorow states, “The wife, accordingly, is viewed as deriving her status and class position mainly from her husband, even if she also is in the labour force and contributes to the maintenance of the family’s lifestyle” (Chodorow, 1978, p.179). This can be related to the film, where Carol goes to spin class and stays home while her husband goes to work.
This scene takes gender differences as culturally meaningful distinctions based on the superiority of masculinity which leads to the ideology that surprises its own superiority and helps explain the different types of gender. Chodorow states “Boys are taught to be masculine more consciously than girls are taught to be feminine” (Chodorow, 1978, p.176).
In other words, women are taught to stay home and take care of the family whereas the men in the family are taught to work to make money and provide for the household. Similarly, the males in the family have a role of masculinity where they are taught to dominate women. In addition in the film “Safe” (1995), reproduction of mothering is shown when Carol went to her friend’s baby shower and where she was talking to her friend’s kids, feeding the little girl cake and taking care of her house when she was refurbishing her living room and kitchen.
Chodorow also talks about the theoretical outline informed by cultural psychoanalysis and object relations’ theory, which is when we internalize our history of object relations in the unconscious and recap outlines from unresolved relationships. Another part of the film “Safe” (1995), Carol felt that her husband did not care or understand her illness or why she wanted to go to the health club and Wrenwood Centre facilities to stay. Especially in those associations are where our needs are neglected, our selves threatened, and our selves established in the absence of love, security and empathy. Moreover, Chodorow also hints upon the psychoanalysis perspectives, which is the human consciousness and subjectivity that shape our repression and sublimation of human drives, such as the external world of culture and the individual biography of object relations. How consciousness is formed and the subject partly, largely misunderstands how it shapes the social worlds.
As shown above, under those conditions, the subject has lack of insight into the formative ways in which their consciousness has been structured, which leads to the psychoanalysis – to restructure an individual’s psyche and diminish neuroses and destructive patterns of thought and behaviour. Corresponding to Marx’s work on the labour theory of value and capitalist can be related to the film “Safe” (1995). Marx talks about the base and superstructure of the mode of production. The base is everything in terms of how society is organized and shaped, is derived from economic base and production of commodities which contain both concrete and abstract labour.
Marx states, “economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionizing the mode of production” (Marx, 1847, p.26). Not to mention in the film, Carol decides to move to an isolated area where it all land and no buildings and is far away from the city, cars and a huge number of people. This proves the relationship of Marx’s base by the means of production by the relationship between people and material forces. Carol gave up everything in her life as a wealthy person to live a normal and simple life by herself.
She left behind her husband and son. Most people would view this as a problem because many would question why someone would leave behind such a materialistic life for a lifestyle so simple and basic. The superstructure is everything that arises from the economic base and is a structural consequence of the internal contradictions of capital accumulation. Without some sort of regulation, capitalism will rip itself and destroy itself.
Likewise, everything shaped by the means of production in society changes, and so will the superstructure. In the light of the film, Carol decided to isolate herself in a safe house because she felt that it would make her feel better. She removed everything and wore a mask and carried a gas tank with her. She told her husband to bring the supplies that she needs. This is related to Marx’s theory of the structural effect of relations of production functioning with relative anatomy from the capitalist class in the interest of maintaining the system of the capital accumulation and securing individual interest.
In other words, when she decided to remove all the fancy material things to fit in with people in the middle and lower class she felt better because all the environmental chemicals were not making her sick, and she started to feel like herself again when she was in the Wrenwood Centre with others. Given these points accordingly to Marx, men are always working hard for their family and providing an income for their family when they feel as if they achieved their goal. Hard work and its reward is a sign from God. Comparatively, Engels’ theories on the class struggle of social conflict and goal of communism can be related to the film “Safe” (1995). In the same way in the film, Carol was from a wealthy family where she and husband owned a big house, had housemaids, where she did not work and they were in the middle of renovating the house.
With this intention, the relationship between the film and Engels’ theory of basic forms of the family is that Carol is related to the different states of family and changes the means of production. Engels states, “polygamy is a privilege of the wealthy and distinguished, and is mainly realized by the purchase of female slaves” (Engels, 1902, p.74).
In other words, Carol is apart of the monogamous family where the male is leading and has male power, and the only way to find genuine love is towards the proletarians. As well as the law only goes towards them through bourgeoisie interest and real love is towards proletarians who own nothing, without property relation. For the purpose of in the film, it is clear that Carol’s husband makes all the money and everything belongs to him because he makes the income for his family, whereas Carol does not have an income or does not contribute to the family when it comes to financing. Engels shows class struggle and social conflict in wealth and economy through different types of families. Another view that Engels brings up is the communist or human society as the ability to maximize human potential through some new form of economic relations, where people have to contribute in ways towards wealth creation. Therefore in the film, Carol had to keep up with her wealthy lifestyle by going to spin classes and doing what wealthy people were doing such as attend events and baby showers of her friends, even if she was not feeling well or did not want to do those things. She did not want people to look at her differently and she felt that they would not understand what she was going through. In many ways, the film can be viewed as a horror movie because it touches on emotion content because the audience does not know what is going on.
Moreover, Carol feels sick and does not know why and she has no support from her husband. Having a mental illness and not being diagnosed correctly can be scary because she felt alone. Likewise, the theme found in the film “Safe” (1995) is time. As a problem of fact, the time Carol was at Wrenwood Centre facilities her hair was perm, there was a rash on her forehead, the cars in the parking lot were old cars and when her husband was leaving the parking lot, he was driving a mid-1980s car. The time had changed drastically and she had been at Wrenwood Centre for a long time. In However this was related to Chodorow because in the event that in the film Carol was not seen doing much parenting because half the time she was not feeling well and was in her own world. She left her son with her husband while she was trying to get help for her illness. Together with the movement of the film was emotional and narrated the film.
The specifics of the film are that it has many themes such as camerawork, sound, editing and plot devices. The editing of the film leaves the audience feeling the pain that Carol was going through and shows what mental illness can do to a person. It leaves us feeling uneasy or feeling the fear Carol feels.
A lot of people do not understand what mental illness is and we just brush off the term mental illness and think that it is not a big deal. As an illustration to in the film “Safe” (1995), and the four theoretical theorists may have different ideas and understandings of each scene. For example, Freud theorizes about mental illness, so that could add to the understanding of why Carol believes she has an environmental illness. To put it differently when Carol claimed that she was sick no one believed her, up to the point when she went to the laundry cleaner, fainted, had a seizure and went to the hospital. Then again this was a turning point in the movie because that was when people believed that she was not feeling well. As a result, even the doctor did not know what was wrong with her, leading up to when she was getting an allergy test to see if she was reacting to chemicals.
Not a lot of people understand what environmental illness is. The film shows great emotions in that in a moment, something can happen in a split second without realizing what is going on. By having the audience being the end edge of their seats and creating suspense in the film, it allows the audience to feel the real truth and emotion that Carol is experiencing herself. Not to mention mental illness is a real issue and topic that most people do not know a lot of information about to help other people or themselves. It can be a scary issue for those who do not understand. If the audience put themselves in Carol’s shoes, not knowing what is going to happen next and not having all the resources, help or support from their loved ones or others, it is really hard for them to live with that mental illness. Generally speaking, many people would not know what to do, but Carol went to self-help groups and got the help and support she needed. She demonstrated braveness and strong independence.
For the purpose of the film, it talks about what is shown in the movie and what the main message of the film shares an important message. In view of everyone can be lost within his or herself and not feel safe, but at the end of the day, people are struggling with their own issues. It takes great strength to stay strong and ask for help when feeling alone. To put it another way, in the film, it is shown that Carol felt unsafe in the environment she was living in. She feared the chemicals in the environment around her to the point where she removed herself from the city to move into an empty space in a facility that she believes would help treat her illness.
Her husband did not agree with her and believe that she was not sick, she left her husband to move into a safe house by herself. To the end that it shows that she was trying to get help and was self-treating her own illness and she was not letting herself struggle to take responsibility of her life but in its place acceptance her illness and helping other people understand and gain more knowledge of what environmental illness is and what it can do to a person. It shows what life was like for Carol earlier becoming ill and what her life was like dealing with mental illness. After all, for the most part, the tone of the film gave a genuine feel to it as it shows that we all experience problems in our lives and should not be quick to judge someone else’s well-being and as their struggles should not be taken lightly if they say that they are suffering or going through something. To summarize, the narrative of living with mental illness and the main significance in the film “Safe” (1995) can be understood from the perspectives and theories of the four theorists of Freud, Chodorow, Marx, and Engels. To point out the film shows class struggle and self-help culture, touching upon the ideas of in what way it shows a separately from the audiences’ emotions.
Showing the perspectives of the four theorists and their interpretations of the film can show how their works and concepts can be applied to various mediums. To explain the theoretical theorists can teach many learning experiences and experiences in our everyday lives even if it is not in the film. For example, Carol is going through a mental illness just like someone in a similar position in society would. Even with a little knowledge and understanding you can see what the theorist does and link it to anything possible that is going on in the world.
By all means, you can see things going on in your own personal life and apply a theory to situations to help solve issues in your own life and have a better understanding as to why things are happening and why they might happen. When you can link your own personal experiences with the theory or several theories, it gives you a better understanding of what is going on and it can help you self-treat. As a result, if we know that we are not feeling well or do not know what is going on, we should know that someone else is going through the same problem or have similar issues and that we are not alone. There are people that will to help and listen to our problems.
Altogether it teaches us to not give up so easily and that it is okay to seek help if we need it.