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Cronenberg, David

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#1 hal0000


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Posted 06 August 2009 - 09:31 AM

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“To accept the body is to accept death.”

It may not be immediately apparent, but David Cronenberg’s work is generally strongly meditative on the consequences of violence. He’s known for grotesquery (especially earlier in his career), and while this appeases the blood-and-guts lovers, it really stems from an abhorrence of violence treating human life as expendable bodies-to-put-bullets-into1.

Cronenberg’s fascination with evolution, perhaps stemming from his science background, is seen in his own work’s evolution. This transmogrification of the Cronenberg oeuvre is reflective of the artist’s desire to constantly push himself into new, foreign directions while upholding and adding to the themes that interest him. Cronenberg has often said he has no desire to repeat himself, and looking at his films, it’s hard to find two that are truly interchangeable.

With such a diverse body of work covering so many genres, Cronenberg is sometimes considered uneven, and those that appreciate his horror based work the most have often been more dismissive of his stranger films like Naked Lunch, Crash, or Spider, OR they have been disappointed by his turn to “mainstream” material like A History of Violence or Eastern Promises, even though he has become anything but a commercial filmmaker.

A History of Violence was popular amongst the critics, but from what I’ve seen, his fanbase has generally been less responsive, which is puzzling. What’s going on here? The film still carries ideas on physical and psychological change as well as violence, but he’s actually bringing this into the context of the American Dream. He asks us what it takes to start a new life and the sacrifices involved. Is it even possible to fully change from what we are? It’s something that’s left up to the viewer by the final somber note of the film.

I suspect the “fans” that think his horror-based work is best are hoping he’ll triumphantly return as a filmmaker of cult horror films. I think they’ll be disappointed, especially if they refuse to adapt and change their perspective on what is “Cronenbergian” because its focus is on change. Not only does Cronenberg repeat these ideas in his films, but he’s exemplifying it in the evolution of his work as a whole. I don’t believe he’ll return to the horror scene, and I even doubt the Cronenberg-Mortensen collaboration will become anything like Scorsese-Deniro because of this.

Recommended (a * is one that I personally regard very highly):

Dead Ringers
Eastern Promises*
The Fly
A History of Violence*
Naked Lunch*

I still have to see The Brood, Shivers, M. Butterfly, and Fast Company of his features.

1. David Cronenberg, Dead Serious. Desson Thomson. Washington Post. 2007.

#2 littlefuzzy


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Posted 07 August 2009 - 10:19 PM

I really haven't had that much exposure to him.

I've seen The Fly several times, and I caught eXistenZ on cable a few years back without knowing anything about it, or who directed it. From what I can recall, it had a "Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie" feel to it, for whatever reason. I will give it another look one of these days.

I own the Criterion Dead Ringers, but I haven't seen it yet. Partly due to the chatter in the Purchased thread, I recently picked up Shivers and The Brood, but again, I haven't had a chance to watch them. I will probably get The Dead Zone, Rabid, and Scanners soon.

I *MIGHT* take a look at Crash one day, as well as Fast Company. I'd probably pick up Videodrome long before The Naked Lunch.

Eastern Promises, A History of Violence, M. Butterfly, and Spider don't really seem like they will appeal to my tastes.

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#3 bobham80


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Posted 07 August 2009 - 10:33 PM

M. Butterfly is the only Cronenberg film that I have yet to see, but I will say the Fast Company is the only Cronenberg that you might watch and might not recognize his style or themes, however there is a scene involving motor oil that you are sure to love. It is a worth checking out. I'd say that Spider is the least favorite of Cronberg films, although I'd probably owe it a re watch.

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