"In most films," says David Cronenberg, director of "Crash", "the movie stops
and you have the sex scene. Then it continues. And you could take out the sex
scene and not change a thing." In many respects, "Crash" is the sex-driven
car commercial turned into a nightmare of strange couplings incited by thre
fresh smell of death on the highway.
Cronenberg is the Toronto-bred director of such itchy films as "Videodrome",
"The Fly", "M. Butterfly", and "Dead Ringers". "Crash", he points out,
strings together three or four sex scenes in a row, making them impossible to
cut and, indeed, integral to the drama.
"Audiences begin to wonder 'When is the movie going to start?'", Cronenberg
says. The sex scenes in the film, which was greeted by walkouts and boos in
its screenings at the 49th Cannes Film Festival, "are the movie. The
characters and their philosophical concerns are all revealed in them,"
according to Cronenberg, who adds "And I didn't give their inclusion much
thought other than the difficulty in filming them."
Based on the1973 cult novel of the same name by JG Ballard, "Crash" was
physically difficult to shoot," Cronenberg relates, due to the high incidence
of night shooting, moving vehicles and the time and delicacy of shooting
"You know you can't talk someone into making a film like this," Cronenberg
explains in praise of the film's cast, James Spader, Deborah Unger, Hollu
Hunter and Elias Koteas. All doubts, fears and hesitations were addressed in
the casting process itself, so that "Everything was resolved by the time we
started shooting," he adds.
Cronenberg differentiated the result from the typical over-researched
Hollywood product and "Crash". "Typically, a studio tests and does
screenings and lets the audience tell you what they want. But if you do that,
you only meet the audiences preconceived expectations... You need to lead the
audience," Cronenberg countered, "to a place you yourself are discovering."
That place he continues, involved setting in motion characters "who are
disconnected, who can't connect, but who have discovered a way to bring
themselves back to life" through what he called a new emotionality and
sexuality. "Variety", the trade paper, has a word for it: "Auto-eroticism."
Cronenberg spells out his thoughts on sexuality, saying it began as a
"biological fact, but now we do not even need to meet to procreate. Sex has
become a human invention, an art form, a form of technology no longer having
a biological basis. These characters explore" that development, he says.
The cinema and the automobile, Cronenberg notes, were both born 100 years
ago. Each brought unparalleled freedom to explore, and each compressed time
and space. That observation completed, Cronenberg - who owns a Ferrari and
used to race cars in the 60's - was whisked away in a helicopter to check out
some grand prix racers at Monte Carlo.
Hold on to your gear shifts: Cronenberg's next film is set in the world of
race car driving. There are no plans to crash cars and stage violent sex acts
before the cheering multitudes, however. For now.
Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.