Posted: Friday, July 27, 2018 – 3:39 PM
Dr Bernard Bail was a lead Air Force radar navigator who was captured by the Nazis and incarcerated during World War II; he was saved by the secret love of a German nurse and went on to become a pioneering psychoanalyst.
Director Jill Demby Guest has turned his story into a new documentary, And Now Love, that will be screened at 2 p.m., Sunday, July 29 at the Beverly Hills Public Library Auditorium, 444 N. Rexford Dr.
“His is an inspiring story,” says Demby Guest. “He had seen the worst of the world in war and turned those negative experiences around for the betterment of mankind.”
Narrated by actor Peter Coyote, the film dramatizes Bail’s being shot down over Nazi Germany on his 25th mission. “I thought I was a goner,” Bail said in an interview. He ripped off his dog tags so his captors wouldn’t know he was Jewish.
He was rescued through the clandestine love of his German nurse. “I’ve seen the letters,” says Demby Guest. “They both could have been killed.”
This first experience of spiritual love, he says, informed the rest of his life. Liberated in 1945, he returned to Philadelphia, committed to becoming a healer.
In 1990, after 20 years as both a patient and practicing pyschoanalyst, Dr. Bail began 10 years of research into his theory of the “maternal imprint,” explained in his book, The Mother’s Signature: A Journal of Dreams.
The imprint is what he calls the unconscious negative feelings from mothers, and the transgenerational transmission of these feelings and trauma to children, that leads to self-criticism and “cuts us off from who we might be and become,” Demby Guest says. “We all have an imprint.”
His war experience had a great deal to do with developing his theories that advocate for the equality of women and strike at the root of all mental illness. “The war subjected me to periods of abject terror; and I was not afraid to go deep into the unconscious. To go beyond Freud.”
The film’s executive producers Michael Glick and Steve Koch are advocates of Dr. Bail’s work and liked Demby Guest’s approach.
“I’m a good translator of difficult material and messages,” says Demby Guest, who has worked extensively with Disney and Warner Brothers on documentaries for their DVD releases. “I’m able to make the process ‘easy to eat. ‘ My brother said a 9-year-old could understand it; and I know a 10-year-old who was in therapy and saw it and was fascinated.”
Bail, who lived in Beverly Hills for many years, still practices in the City at the age of 97.
Being the subject of a film is “very nifty,” says Bail. He terms it a “good film. Modesty prevents me from calling it a great film.”
A highlight of the film is when Demby Guest accompanies him and his girlfriend back to Germany. “It was his first trip back in 71 years, and we go back into the room where he was held. This is a film about emotions and bringing to light feelings that have been suppressed.”
ail recounts his war experiences in his memoir, Irmgard’s Flute, and as one can imagine, he has received virtually every military honor imaginable including the French Legion of Honor, the highest military honor bestowed by the country. “And we have all the medals in the film,” Demby Guest says.
The screening will be followed by a discussion with Dr. Bail, director Guest, and special guest and film contributor Dr. Loren Weiner, a clinical psychologist practicing in Beverly Hills. —Steve Simmons