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World premièring in Glasgow, All Divided Selves, by Luke Fowler is a complex journey through the work of psychologist R.D. Laing.

All Divided Selves is a powerful film which merges art and cinema to show Laing’s work, but also the world through the eyes of someone with schizophrenia. Luke Fowler, director, said: “It’s not what you see, it’s how you see it.”

This was the key message conveyed throughout the film.

Laing was born in Govanhill, Glasgow in 1927 and is now world renowned for his work with schizophrenic patients in particular.

I found that a dark humour which is seen to be typical of the Scottish, was present throughout the film. It seemed to resonate Laing’s sense of humour and his way of dealing with what was a very emotionally difficult job. This was a very enjoyable aspect of the film and gave the audience relief from what was often a very dark subject.                                                                                                                

But the film also showed the beauty of life itself, with the words “beautiful” and “moving” used constantly by the audience in the Q & A after the film.

Fowler said: “I employ a powerful use of sound and still imaging to show the complexity of the human mind yet the simplicity with which we perceive it to be.” 

The use of sound and still images in this film was remarkable and very emotionally moving. The camera shots were often used as metaphors which gave the audience the feeling of being trapped or shut out from society. This highlights the everyday problems faced by those with mental illness. Something as simple as a still shot of a fence with the sound of wind whistling through it gave the audience the impression of reality and fantasy intertwined in a confusing and inseparable way.

This film would appeal to history lovers as Fowler used archive footage to show the contrast between Glasgow in the past and present, or Laing’s time and his.The footage also highlighted the Neo-Liberalism movement of Britain which was hugely important to Laing’s work.

Fowler commented: “The neo-liberalism of the new right was a business revolution. The country was run by businessmen and bankers. There were psychological flaws as a result.”

Laing believed that this movement highlighted the way in which psychology did not deal with external issues, only internal ones. The people of the this time were suffering as a result of living in this bankers world. He felt that they were not cared about or understood.

“All Divided Selves” is a powerful film telling us of the fine line between reality and fantasy. It is as much art as it is film and although complex, and at times, difficult to follow, it captures the essence of cinema in a unique way. Overall, I would say it is one of the best films I have ever seen and director Luke Fowler is hugely talented. I would highly recommend this film to anyone.

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