In the 1946 film Notorious the story surrounds the character Alicia Huberman played by the inimitable Ingrid Bergman.
The plot is set in motion by the actions of her father. Alicia is the daughter of a traitor against the American government and a Nazi spy.
He’s been discovered and the movie begins the day of the trial. He’s sentenced to 20 years in prison and what happens directly after the gavel smashes down is crucial to understanding the Animus, a crucial element of many people’s psyche.
Understanding the Animus
Above, we see an almost perfect representation of an underdeveloped Animus on the attack.
Notice, the journalists swarming on Alicia badgering her with poorly formed sentence fragments.
Compare the above scene with Emma Jung’s description of the Animus from the essential essay’s Animus and Anima: Two Papers (1955)
“One of the most important ways that the animus expresses itself, then, is in making judgements, and as it happens with judgements, so it is with thoughts in general. From within, they crowd upon the woman in already complete, irrefutable forms” (Jung 15)
Notorious is presented through a lens of fatherhood pitted against the idea of citizenship. This is a delicious archetypal tale with hero being torn in both directions.
What’s important to notice is that Alicia’s life work, her goals, her creativity are ignored and repressed.
In the movie, these worthwhile pursuits are characterized as the sarcastic, aloof, and dashing T.R. Devlin played by Cari Grant.
Likewise, an experience where personal goals, self care, and fun take the proverbial “backseat” to an ever growing list of commitments and responsibilities is quite common.
In Alicia’s case she must sacrifice her love for Devlin and marry a man she hates to gather intelligence for the US Government and atone for the sins of her Nazi father.
A series of Animus figures constantly berate and remind her that she must prove her worth as an American causing her to repress her feelings for Devlin dutifully taking on the obligations she doesn’t owe.
The Repressed Animus
In Notorious the decision to enter a world of Nazi espionage and intrigue ultimately gets Alicia poisoned.
Poison is a fantastic way to conceptualize how resentment impacts people with chronic cases of Animus repression.
A common sign that the Animus is repressed or underdeveloped is if there’s a constant inner monologue with questions similar to the ones that follow:
- How will this outfit impact my reputation?
- Will saying no to that request make me a bitch?
- Are these pants too tight for a boy?
- Do I really need to correct that wrong statement he just made?
Nothing is inherently wrong with having an awareness of the outside world, but when obligation to reputation and community morphs into creative resistance it’s time to explore developing the Animus.
Daenerys and her boys
To explore the most efficient way to develop the Animus we’ll step into Westeros located in the universe first developed in the epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire (1996) and examine the journey of Daenerys Targaryen.
- Man of physical power
- War Hero or Poet
- The Professor
- Balancing Partner
First, Daenerys easily masters the Animus of physical power integrating the aggression and raw power of the warlord Khal Drogo
While it’s critically important to develop this first stage of the Animus I should also mention that it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before preforming the Stalion Heart Ritual.
In all seriousness, this stage is all about confronting the fear of being physically dominated, being a weakling or a victim.
In this universe, I’d suggest skipping the animal sacrifice and trying out two things if you’re struggling with this:
- Stop apologizing for anything that the recipient won’t remember in 10 years. Examples, don’t apologize for making noise, being in the way, bad things that happened that aren’t your fault, etc
- Try keeping you arms uncrossed in social situations for one week. If you do cross them note the context.
Daario as War Hero
In the next phase we have an abundant well spring of raw physical energy from the last integration.
It will split into one of two forms. Either the martial discipline represented by a soldier or the passion and creativity of archetypal artist and lover.
As Daenerys’s ultimate creative goal is to conquer the entire world it’s not surprising she would go the warrior route aligning herself with the talented mercenary Daario Naharis.
While this stage of mastering either the rational or the intuitive is crucial it’s not surprising that Daenerys is quickly ready to advance.
This brings us to Tyrion Lannister himself.
In the third stage we encounter what Jung calls the Clergy or Professor in the form of the fantastic character of Tyrion Lanister.
In the scene above he helps Daenerys recognize the gaps that can form with an over-reliance on cold, calculated, overly rational thinking.
Daenerys, like most humans still has work to do to when it comes to fully integrating the various parts of her psyche required to achieve individuation.
There is a particularly potent metaphor embedded within her relationship to the dragons she bore in the story.
The first clue is that they are literally her creation the act of eating the horse heart ultimately led to their birth. However, until she can tame these forces they are trapped (repressed) in an underground cave.
It’s also important to note the namesake of the three dragons: her father, brother, and dead husband all men with various tragic flaws that Daenerys must overcome to achieve her goals.
Returning to Alicia
In Notorious Alicia must descend to a cave of her own to deal with repressed complexes and emotions.
The still shot from above is the culmination of what is among Alfred Hitchcock’s most impressive shots.
In an insanely complicated sequence including a crane shot, multiple lenses, and a delightful patterning of focus shifts from wide-to-mid and mid-to-tight we finally find out attention fixated on this key.
So much care is taken to show us it because it’s where the uranium the Nazi’s have stored to presumably end the world is located.
This uranium is a representation of the guilt, anger, and shame she feels about the failures of her father. She has literally taken the world on her shoulders to make up for his actions.
As we discussed earlier this descent into her unconscious leads to the villain outing her as an undercover spy and poisoning her.
The ending scene is perfect in it’s minimalism. When Devlin finds out the cover is blown he shrugs his shoulders and proceeds to make his first active participation in the entire film.
He calmly walks into the residence and carries the nearly dead Alicia to safety.
There is no shoot out, the world doesn’t end, and Alicia and Devlin can finally get to work on the great and challenging work of transforming their personalities.
This is a great example for how things tend to play out in life. It’s easy to imagine everything that will go wrong when we “abandon” all the people who are “counting on us”
Usually, these concerns are overblown and often our own self improvement will serve to make things better for all.