This was a film that I had already heard about due to the book being so popular, and although I did plan to read the book, I didn’t get round to it in the end. However, from what people had said about the book, it sounded like something that I would enjoy writing about.
Now that I have watched the film, I would say that there is a more to this story than meets the eye. Based on my perspective, the film looks at what can happen when someone doesn’t get the help they need after they have experienced trauma.
These psychological aspects and metaphors that I talk about from the film are based on my own interpretation. They are in no way the right or only interpretation; they are just my view.
This will mean that I will miss out certain parts and only describe what stood out for me and what I felt was significant. There will also be parts that I didn’t understand and that will also be a reason as to why it has not been mentioned. This will also mean that it will not be like a story board and that I won’t be describing the whole story.
The Opening Scene
As the film starts, we see that Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are living radically different lives; Anastasia is a student and Christian is the owner of a big company.
When her friend is unable to go and interview him because she has the flu, Anastasia ends up going to the interview in her place. But instead of using her own car, she ends up using her friend’s car.
At this point, it could be said that this is similar to what happens when a young adult borrows their parent’s car. They are not in a position where they can support themselves and so they look towards their parents to support them.
It is during this time that we start to get an insight into her character. Through how she behaves around her friend and how she responds once she arrives in the waiting area, we can see that she is not someone who can be described as self-assured.
What is also interesting about this moment is that all the people who are working there are women. At this stage, this could just be seen as how things are there, and therefore, there is no need to draw any conclusions about it.
However, this could also be a sign that Christian is unable to affirm himself, and this then means that he needs women to do this for him. Receiving constant feedback from women is then the only way he knows how to feel good about himself.
If this is the case, it would show that he hasn’t been able to break away from his mother and to integrate his aggression, and this is why his sense of self is still being defined by women. The other side of this is that this could also be a sign that his father wasn’t around either, as the father is generally the person who brings the child away from their mother and teaches them to affirm themselves through embracing their own aggression.
One of the employees walks Anastasia to Christian’s office, but they don’t open the door for her. This could be seen as normal, but then again, it could be seen as a sign of the kind of relationship that he has with the people he works with.
Perhaps he is very formal and prefers to keep people at a certain distance. In this case, his relationships are not going to be influenced by his heart; they are only going to relate to his mind.
She pushes the door open and soon falls to the ground, Christian offers his hand and she is soon on her feet. Now, the fact she falls over could be put down to a lack of concentration, but another way of looking at this would be to say that her nerves got the better of her.
Standing in front of her is someone who appears to be strong, and this is the opposite of how she comes across. Christian is not fazed by what is taking place, and we soon see that his facial expressions rarely change; he has mastered the poker face.
He then sits on a black chair and Anastasia sits on a white chair, and so not only are they both extremely different in how they come across, they are also sitting on chairs that are the opposite colour.
At this point, it would appear that she hasn’t brought something to write with, and Christian then has to provide something for her to use. She begins to ask different questions and one question focuses on how well he has done for his age.
Here we see that Christian is not a dreamer like Anastasia, he has a more calculated approach to life. When it comes to understanding people, he says he knows what to do, and this is why he is where he is.
He is asked if his success comes down to luck and he says the harder he works, the more success he seems to have. It could be said that he is not one for letting go and taking a more feminine approach, he is all for taking action and utilising a masculine approach to life.
Anastasia asks him if he is a control freak and he says that he exercises control in all things. It could then be said that he is out of balance and perhaps at one point in time, something happened to him that left him feeling completely out of control.
We soon find out that he was adopted age four, and this experience is bound to have had a big impact on this life. It could have been this experience that has given him the need to maintain control at all times.
Deep down, he could have a lot of pain to do with being abandoned by his mother, and if he was to let go, he may fear that he would be abandoned all over again. These early experiences may have affected his ability to trust others.
After the interview, we can see that Anastasia is infatuated with Christian; it is not possible for her to focus on her own life. Now, this could be seen as a surprise; especially as he came across as cold and controlling.
When she finishes college, a guy comes over who is the complete opposite of Christian, and he is just a friend. At this point, it would be easy to say that he is just not her type; however, this could also give us an insight into what love means to her.
The Phone Call
Whilst she is at work, her mother calls her to say that she won’t be able to make it to her graduation because her husband injured himself whilst playing golf. It could also be said that her mother is self-absorbed, and this is because Anastasia asks her to call back because she is at work and her mother says she has a reason.
She asks her mother if she can come by herself and she says that this is not possible, but instead of empathising with her daughter here, she wants her daughter to understand her situation. Another way of looking at this would be to say that her mother doesn’t really care about her what daughter needs; she only cares about her own needs.
Her priority is not her daughter, who is her flesh and blood; her priority is the man in her life. Now, this could be a one of scenario, but there is also the chance that this is what her mother is like. Once the call is over, she says she loves her, and while words are important, it is our actions that make the difference.
One on hand, her mother is saying she loves her, but on the other, she is not showing it. And if this is how her mother always is, she could have come to develop an unhealthy idea of what is love.
After The Photo Shoot
When they are walking through a corridor after the photo shot, Christian starts to ask about her male friend and the guy she works with at the hardware store. However, he is not coming from a place of pure curiosity; he wants to find out if they are competition.
If we were able to see Anastasia through his eyes, we might begin to see her as a possession. In this case, she is not her own person who has her own feelings and needs, she is an object to own and control.
It has been said that the first time a man experiences the need to possess someone is when he is a baby and the person he wants to possess at this time is usually his mother. During this stage of his development, he is unable to see that his mother is separate from him.
Having this perspective is a vital part of his survival, and then a time passes and providing he receives the right care during this time, he will gradually grow out of this. Yet, if he doesn’t receive the right kind of care and it is then not possible for him to emotionally separate from his mother, he can continue to see women as his possessions.
The Coffee Shop
At the coffee shop Anastasia says she finds him intimidating, and the fact that she has both hands on her drink shows she doesn’t feel comfortable. Along with this, Christian tells her to eat, and this shows that he is unwilling to respect her boundaries.
He asks her to tell him about her family, and she says her dad died when she was a baby, so she was raised by her step-father. We then find out that her mother is on husband number four and she describes her as an incurable romantic.
Her mother is not the only one, as she says she is also the same and this is partly why she studies English literature. At this point, Christian pulls away and says that he is not the man for her and that she should steer clear.
Upon reflection, we could say that Christian has a clear conscience, and this is why he doesn’t want Anastasia to stay with him and end up being hurt. Yet, this could also be a way for him to pull her even close to him.
After all, this is not someone who leaves things to chance; this is someone who understands how to get people to fulfil his needs. The uncertainty that she is experiencing could remind her of what her relationship was like with her own mother, and although it is dysfunctional, it is what is familiar to her.
Her mother may have been there one moment and gone the next, and if this is something she has experienced on a regular basis, it is going to trigger a strong reaction within her. Along with this, we don’t know what her step-father was like during her early years.
Waiting in Line
Whilst she I waiting to use the toilet, she thinks about deleting Christians number, but she ends up calling him instead. This shows that part of her wants to end the connection she has with him and another part of her wants it to continue.
Intellectually, she may think that it wouldn’t be in her best interests to have him in her life, and then at an emotional level, she may crave his attention. Her body is then going to overpower her mind and it won’t matter that he is not ‘right’ for her.
Whilst they are on the phone, he asks her if she has been drinking and once he finds out she has been, he tells her to go home. Anastasia calls him out on his bossy behaviour and he then asks what bar she is at.
He calls her again and says he’s coming to get her. In this moment, the relationship is more like parent and child; he doesn’t care about what she has to say and this is because he sees her as a an object and not as a fellow human being.
The Male Friend
When she goes outside to wait for Christian, her male friend comes out and tells her how much he likes her. Anastasia ends up feeling uncomfortable and does everything she can to resist his advances.
He doesn’t listen and try to take things further; this also shows that he lacks boundaries. Christian then comes rushing out and saves her from his unwanted attention, and just as she begins to faint, he catches her.
One way of looking at this would be to say that she has met someone who is providing the support that she lacks within herself. The masculine strength within her has yet to be realised.
When Anastasia wakes up, Christian walks in soon after, and during this time, she asks about what happened. She finds out that although she slept in the same bed as Christian, nothing actually happened.
He says that it was an anomaly for him to have slept, and this shows how his need to be in control is stopping him from being able to sleep. This is because we don’t fall asleep through force; we fall asleep through letting go.
So as it is not possible for him let go, it is not going to be possible for him to fall asleep either. He tells her that she put herself at risk last night, and in the next moment, he takes his top off.
On one side there is pain and on the other there is pleasure, and this experience could be seen as something that will condition her to associate pleasure with pain. Yet, it could also be said that this conditioning has already taken place through having a mother whose words and behaviour don’t match up.
Anastasia asks Christian why he sent her the books and he says that it’s because he thought he owed her an apology. He stops just short of saying her owed her an apology for letting her believe that he could let her go.
It is not possible for Christian to show affection, and this is because this would involve letting go. Not only would he be allowing his feelings to arise, he would also be letting love in, and this takes a certain amount of trust.
He doesn’t feel safe enough to show how he feels and neither does he feel safe enough to surrender to another person. He has to remain in his head and this stops him from getting in touch with his body and experiencing true intimacy.
Christian then says that he is not going to touch her until he has her written consent. This shows how he is not prepared to let the interaction take its own course; he wants to make sure it goes in a certain direction.
Through having a contract, it will allow him to remain in control, and while it could be said that previous relationships with women have played a part in this, it could go back to his childhood years. However, he soon loses control and ends up kissing Anastasia in the lift.
When Anastasia comes home, she sees that her roommate is under Christian’s brother, and he comes across as the complete opposite of Christian. He is relaxed, happy and friendly, and he points out that his brother is not warm.
After he sees his brother showing affection, he looks away in disgust, and is only too happy for the interaction to end. Perhaps there was a time where someone got too close to him (this may have been his mother), and this experience caused him to feel uncomfortable with closeness.
The Helicopter Ride
Anastasia meets Christian and they go on a helicopter ride, and if we were to see this experience as a metaphor, it could be said that the whole experience mimics what it is like for a girl to be picked up by her father as a child. When we are children, we can only see so much, and just as being picked up allows us to see more, being in a helicopter also has the same effect.
She is supported and her whole body feels weightless, and as her father passed away when she was born, this might be an experience that she hasn’t really experienced. Being with Christian in the helicopter could then make the child part of her feel as though she is getting what she missed out on all those years ago.
The Play Room
Anastasia asks if the room has an Xbox and stuff in, and we soon find out that this couldn’t be further from the truth. The room is where Christian engages in bondage, and he has all kinds of different tools and apparatus.
However, we soon find out that Christian uses this stuff on women and doesn’t allow them to use it on him. He says he’s a dominant and not a sadist, and that he wants Anastasia to surrender herself to him.
The only thing that is in it for her is that she will get him, and Christian appears to believe that this should be enough to convince her to go through with this. One way of looking at this would to be to say that this is another way for him to remain in control, and it could also be said that he has an exaggerated sense of self-importance.
Taking control of women is what turns him on and this could be seen as just what men are like, but if that outlook is put to one side, it could be seen as a way for him to experience indirect revenge. He may have been abused by a woman in the past, and this is then a way for him to get his own back.
Christian says that this is the only sort of relationship that he has, and when Anastasia asks why, he says it’s just the way he is. What this shows is that he has absolutely no self-awareness.
Not only that, he has no interest in finding out why he is the way he is, and it is then down to her to decide whether or not she will go along with it. At this point, we find out that she is still a virgin.
Once they have had a bath and end up back in Christian’s room, we soon hear his mothers vice. From this, we can say that his mother also lacks boundaries, and when he says to her about calling before she drops by, his mother talks about how this would have caused her problems.
And when she sees Anastasia, she talks about how attractive she is and not about the other features she has. This kind of response could be seen as normal, but it could also be a sign that she sees her as an object. In this sense, Christian is very much like his mother; the difference is that Christian has a different use for her.
If we were to reflect upon how Anastasias mother acted when she called her in the hardware store, we can see that Christian’s mothers is also more concerned about her own needs. Whether or not Christian wants to see her is irrelevant; what matters is that she is in the area, and Christian should simply accept that.
The reason he lacks boundaries and is unable to see people as separate could partly come down to how his adopted mother treated him as a child. This could also be a sign that there wasn’t a strong male figure around to bring him away from her clutches.
Dinner and Movies
Anastasia walks to the room that she would stay in if she was to go along with what Christian wants and she asks him if they would go out to dinner and to the movies. He’s says that it’s not his thing, and this shows that she wants more than just sexual pleasure; but as he is emotionally unavailable, this is not going to happen.
It could be said that he is a man and that’s just what men are like, however, men also have emotional needs. The difference between men and women is that women are often encouraged to express their emotions during their early years, whilst men are often shamed for doing the same.
And because men are often out of touch with not only their emotional needs, but also their need for human contact, they can end up having a greater need to experience sexual pleasure. Another way of looking at this is to say that their other needs can end up being sexualized.
An increase in sex drive can therefore be the result of them not getting their emotional and physical needs met. It can be easier to have sex than it can be to open up emotionally and to experience human contact.
It would be inaccurate to say this only applies to men though, as women can also be the same.
A Walk in the Woods
Whilst they are walking in the woods, Anastasia asks Christian how he got into what he does. We find out that when he was fifteen, one of his mother’s friends made him her submissive, and this was something that took place for six years.
She asks him if anyone knows, and she says no one knows about this part of him. He says that his mother doesn’t know, and based on how she came across, it could be said that she was probably too concerned with herself to notice any changes in her son. By the way he describes this, it is clear that he is carrying a lot of shame about what took place.
He also reveals that he is still friends with the woman who did this to him, and based on the fact that he is now doing this to other women, it could be said that he hasn’t worked through the pain that this caused him to experience.
He has covered it up and is acting as though everything is fine, but his relationships with women have been affected because of what took place. There is the chance that he still fears the women who took advantage of him, and this is why he is friends with her.
Through the experiences he had with this woman, it is not possible for him to open up and to trust women. As a result of this, these experienced have stunted his emotional growth and development as a man.
When someone experiences something that causes them to experience shame, it’s normal for them to push the experience out of their awareness. While Christian was the victim in this situation, because of how ashamed he feels, he can feel as though there is something wrong with him.
If he had faced this pain and worked through it, he wouldn’t have the need to go from victim to perpetrator, but as toxic shame is so overwhelming, it is normal for someone to push it out of their awareness and to become shameless in the process.
This could also be the reason why he is not emotionally available, and this is because it is not possible to block out one side of the emotional spectrum without blocking out the other side. If he were to get in touch with his feelings, he would end up being overwhelmed by toxic shame.
When Christian talks about his experience of being taken advantage of, he has only good things to say. This might seem strange; especially as he has so many issues that relate to what happened.
However, this could be a way for him to avoid facing his true feelings; through constructing a positive story around that happened, he can delude himself into thinking that the experience wasn’t that bad. This could be seen as just what happens when someone experiences trauma, and how they can idealize their perpetrator.
Through experiencing a complete loss of power during these experiences, it could have been what set Christian up to seek complete power. However, no matter how much power he has, it is not going to change how he feels; the only way for him to do that is to heal himself.
In this scene, Christian ties Anastasia up and they carry on from where they left of the last time. Now, it could be said that some women enjoy surrendering to a man, and how this is a chance for them to be in their feminine.
However, this has to be done with respect and there has to be a clear understanding of what is and what is not acceptable. What Anastasia is going through at this point could be put down to choice, but as she lacks a strong sense of self, it is going to be normal for her to do things to please Christian as opposed to herself.
When Anastasia starts to ask about the scars on his chest, Christian begins to get uncomfortable, and he then gets up to leave. Once he leaves, Anastasia is not in a good way and clearly wants to be with him.
The Next Day
She sends Christian an email the next day and says she has issues with the paperwork. At this point, it could be said that she doesn’t want to go along with what Christian wants, but what she does want is to be with him.
It is not possible for her to think straight and her emotions are out of control, and while these feelings could relate to Christian, they might be more to it. Because her father passed on when she was younger and through having a mother who is probably not very stable (as demonstrated by the fact she has been married so many times), there is a strong chance that she was neglected during her younger years.
This can then mean that she fears being abandoned on one side, and fears being smothered on the other. It is possible that her fear of being abandoned is greater than her fear of being smothered.
The thought of losing Christian can then be what causes the feelings she experienced when she was abandoned to come to the surface once more. Due to how powerful these feelings are, it won’t matter that he is not the kind of person who is right for her.
As time passes, she is likely to be hurt in the same way all over again, but while she needs to go with someone who is different, this is what feels comfortable. If she was to meet someone who is healthy, there s a strong chance that she would feel uncomfortable.
Through being neglected, there is a strong chance that she is carrying toxic shame, and this is going to stop her from being able to realise her inherent worth. As a result l this, she is not going to believe that she deserves someone who is healthy, or available.
Anastasia comes up with a few things she doesn’t want to do and Christian even agrees to go out on a date one night a week. This can be seen as a sign that he is starting to soften a little, and this also comes to light when he asked Anastasia what she was doing to him when they were in each others arms the night before.
In this scene, we get to see Anastasias step-father for the first time, and in the beginning, he seems friendly and easy going. However, he changes as soon as Christian appears and while this could be seen as him being nothing more than a protective step-father; there could be more to it.
At this point we don’t know anything else about him other than that fact that he is her step-father. If he is not being protective, it could be a sign that he is too close to hear, and seeing her with another man may cause him to experience jealousy, or even envy.
When she goes home, her friend finds out about her getting a car and tells her to make sure she takes it at her own pace. Anastasia acts as though everything is fine, and then leaves without saying where she is going.
This shows she isn’t thinking about what is happening and she has been pulled into Christian’s reality. As her friend is not emotionally attachment, she is in a position to help her to think clearly, but she is too caught up to hear what she has to say.
When Christian and Anastasia are sat at the table with his family, she says that she is going to visit her mother tomorrow, and his mother then says to him that some children do visit their parents now and again. The blame is placed firmly on Christian’s shoulders and his mother believes that she is playing no part how things are.
From what we know about his family history, it could be said that the primary reason he doesn’t go home is because of what happened with this mother’s friend, and he doesn’t seem very close to his adopted mother or father either. After this, Christian goes for a walk with Anastasia and tells her that she’s all his.
She asks him why they can’t sleep in the same bed and why she can’t touch him. After she tells him she needs more and wants more, he tells her hearts and flowers are not something he knows.
Anastasia ask him if the marks on his chest are burns, and he said he says he had a rough start to life and that’s all she needs to know. All kinds of assumptions could be made at this point, but it is safe to say that something significant took place.
We find out that the woman who gave birth to him was a crack addict and a prostitute, and that she died when he was four. As a result of this, it could be said that it wasn’t possible for him to develop a secure attachment to his mother.
The most important years of his development were spent with a woman who was unable to give him the love he needed. And even though he ended up with a new mother after these years, the damage had already been done, and up until this point, this original trauma has not been dealt with.
Based on how he behaves, it could be said that the thing he fears the most in a relationship is being smothered, whereas, the thing that Anastasia fears the most is being abandoned. As his mother was out of tune with his needs, she would have ended up giving him attention when he didn’t need it, and this would have caused him to feel smothered.
This then set him up to fear intimacy on one hand and to crave it on the other. Staying in control at all times is then a way for him to not only stop himself from feeling how he did during his formative years, it is also a way for him to stop himself from having to have the same experience again.
In this sense, it is not his intention to harm others; the only thing he is trying to do is to protect himself. The people he ends up with are likely to carry a similar wound, and this is why their paths cross.
When she is eating a meal at her mothers, we see that her mother is having a go at her husband, and he then says that she’s lucky that he loves her. This could be how her mother has always been, and this is likely to have influenced her daughter’s outlook on relationships.
In this scene, the word ‘love’ is used in a way that is not necessarily healthy. If this is an experience that Anastasia has been exposed to over the years, it may have conditioned her to associate love with verbal abuse, and so when you love someone, you tolerate abuse.
Whilst she is out with her mother, Christian turns up and he says that he was out for a meal with the woman who used him. He describes her as a friend and while this could seem strange, it could be said that he has been conditioned over the years to feel comfortable with women who are abusive.
When she is in the car with her mother, her mother tells her that that things won’t get easier, and the only thing that will happen is that she will get to know herself better. On one side, this could be seen as good advice, but on the other, it could cause her daughter to suffer even more.
For example, if we look at what is going on in her daughter’s life, we can see that her daughter didn’t just happen to end up with Christian. She is with him because there is a connection, and this connection could be seen as primarily being the result of shared trauma.
If her daughter was to work on herself, for instance, this would allow her to not only know herself better, it also would also make her life easier. The reason for this is that when there is less conflict within her, there will be less conflict without.
Her mother is speaking from her own experience, and from what we can see, she doesn’t appear to have any kind of self-awareness. Therefore, if she was to follow her advice, there is a strong chance she would end up having the same relational experiences as her mother.
When Anastasia is with Christian, she asks him why he always plays sad songs, and after she doesn’t get an answer, she asks him why he wants to punish her. He then responds by saying that he is fifty shades of fucked up.
And as Christian won’t explain why he is the way he is she wants him to show her how bad it can be and to punish her. This will then be a way for her to understand what he is going through.
It could be said that the reason he always plays sad songs is because he is sad on the inside. If he was in touch with his deeper feelings, he would be able to go with how he felt, and this is likely to mean that he would cry out the pain.
In the beginning of the film, Christian seemed strong and Anastasia seemed the complete opposite. But as time has gone on, we can see that on the inside Christian is not as strong as he makes out.
At a deeper level, Christian is extremely vulnerable, and part of why he was attracted to Anastasia could have been because he saw part of himself in her. This part of him could be seen as his wounded inner child.
He is no longer in touch with this part of himself, and this is partly why he had such a strong urge to reach out to her. The times when he saved Anastasia were really attempts at saving the lost part of himself.
When Christian hits Anastasia six times, we can see that he is experiencing a lot of rage. But while he is taking this rage out on her, it is really aimed at the woman who abused him when he was fifteen, and it could even go back to his mother.
Once they have finished, she says that she doesn’t want him to come near her, and Christian appears to be shocked by her response. In the past, he was being victimised by a woman, and now he is the one who is victimising a woman.
While he may believe that harming women in the same way that he was harmed is the way for him to change how he feels, it is only going to give him a momentary release. The only way he is going to truly move on for what happened is for him to face himself.
The first step will be for him to step back from how he feels and to realise he is being defined by what happened. Even though he appears to be in control of himself, he has no control over his need to punish women.
When Christian comes into Anastasias room, she says that she has fallen in love with him, and this then causes him to say that she can’t love him. This might seem like a strange thing for him to say.
It is clear that he likes her and as he feels this way, surely he would want her to love him. Based on his reaction, it could be said that he doesn’t feel as though he deserves to be loved.
However, due to the experiences he had with the woman who abused him and his mother, there is a strong chance that he feels unlovable. His inherent worth is likely to have been covered up by toxic shame.
In the morning, Anastasia comes down stairs and says she wants her car back and Christian says it’s already been sold. From this, we can see that she is trying to reaffirm her boundaries.
It is not possible for Christian to look at her and this is likely to be a sign that he feels ashamed of what happened. The toxic shame that he is experiencing has caused him to collapse not only emotionally, but also physically.
At the end we see the lift doors closing and they both say each other’s name. We see that their relationship is not over, and we will have to wait until the next film comes out to find out what happens next (or we could just read the next book).
In the beginning of the film, it appears as though Anastasia and Christian are very different, and this is primarily because of how they are experience life. But as times passes, we can see that they are both carrying deep wounds.
From what we find out, it appears as though Christian has been through more than what Anastasia has been though. However, it is not just what happens to someone that affects them; it is also how they respond to what happens.
Therefore, Anastasia could be carrying the same amount of pain, and because of what they have been through, they are drawn together. It is not possible for them to move through their pain together, and this is because they are projecting their past onto each other.
All the time they do this, they are going to continue to play out the same dramas, and they won’t realise what part they are playing in what is taking place. If they were to work through their pain, they may find that they are on longer attracted to each other.
When someone experiences these kinds of challenges, it will be important for them to reach out for the right support and not to suffer in silence. This doesn’t mean their life will change overnight, but it will change if they keep going.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.