Cronenberg

14Jan10

Can you truly evaluate the merits of a director by seeing only three of his films? Well, surely that isn’t a fair question as a director like David Cronenberg, who has somewhere in the ballpark of twenty films on his resume. This question would be judging Cronenberg solely on the merit of a small fraction of his work. But when one watches enough movies by a particular director one is able to get enough of a sense of what a director wants and is capable of.

Douglas Kass, one of my current professors, is a huge fan of the work of David Cronenberg. Much of this comes from his respect for the director. Cronenberg is a true product of his country, Kass would point out, it is because he was able to stay separate from Hollywood, stay in Canada, and when he finally made the move to Hollywood, have enough control to do things his way that make Cronenberg such a respectable figure.

His films aren’t blockbusters, but he has a solid understanding of quality shots and even higher quality sequences. And his films do make money, it’s just not as much as say Spielberg or Scorsese, but enough to be profitable and let him keep making films. But unlike say Spielberg, who has always had an eye for good, accessible stories, what makes Cronenberg’s continued success astounding is because of his commitment to “the weird”. While Scorsese wants to make movies about tough-guys, gangsters, and megalomaniacs, what truly seems to interest our Canadian friend is science, technology, and the human body.

So if one goes straight to the bone, they would have to observe how cerebral Cronenberg can get with his higher concepts. But the same time, they need to observe the often strange lengths that he will go to to spark a visual reaction, akin to repulsion, that start to set him apart visually. Take the ideas from “The Brood”, a movie that analyzes alternative psychology methods intended on bringing out a new sort of physical potential. There are most likely scientific circles in genetics and psychology that have toyed with some of the ideas brought up in this movie. But Cronenberg’s ability to show the short-term reactive evolution of the body is truly nauseating. But it is through that repulsion that Cronenberg harks back to one of the classic formulas to the horror genre, consideration of human actions through the worst case scenario, that it how one gets truly horrified. Human curiosity gone too far.

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