Based the film “Safe” (1995). For this

            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 moved 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 a simpler 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 behavior, and particularly the
unconsciousness, that is composed of id, ego and superego. Chodorow theory is
about femininity and masculinity and reproduction 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.

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            Provided that Freud’s theory
of 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 behavior 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 similar to the symptoms
outlined in Freud’s theory of the behavior 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 the night watchman of the preconscious, that 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 regulator that exists on many
levels. Freud developed the concept of a connection 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 based on the sublimation and drives the
materialist conception 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 responsible 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 attachments. 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 family. 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 renovating her
living room and kitchen. Chodorow also talks about the theoretical framework
informed by cultural psychoanalysis and object relations’ theory, which is when
we internalize our history of object relations in the unconscious and repeat
patterns 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 relations are where our needs are neglected, our selves
threatened, and our selves established in the absence of love, security and
empathy. Moreover, Chodorow also touches 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 shaped and the
subject partly, largely misunderstands how it shapes the social worlds. As
shown above, under those circumstances, 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 behavior.

            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 demonstrates 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 and fancy lifestyle 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 dominant and has male supremacy, 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 matter 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 charge of her life but
instead embracing 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 before 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 realistic feel to it as it shows that we all experience issues 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 message 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 themes of how it plays an apart from
the audiences’ emotions. Viewing 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.