Happy Birthday to David Cronenberg. The visionary director from Toronto turns 80 today with more than half a century lived behind the camera. Controversial and experimental, the Canadian grand master is pioneer of body horror, a subgenre that explores the fear of the individual in front of the mutation of the body, the infection and the contamination of the flesh. Obsessed with the fusion of «man and technology», Cronenberg expressed his poetics at the highest level in masterpieces such as Videodrome And The fly.
Son of a journalist and a piano teacher, the director and screenwriter became passionate about science fiction stories from a very young age (from the novels by Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick through Marvel and DC comics), starting to write his first stories. His interest in entomology, with a special fascination for lepidoptera, led him to enroll in 1963 at the University of Toronto. During the first year of studies, however, he leaves the botanical branch to specialize in English language and literature. Thus he graduated in literature, being inspired for his unconventional cinema by the authors of the Beat Generation, such as William S. Burroughs and others such as Vladimir Nabokov. From James Woods sucked into the swollen and warped TV at the Jeff Goldblum’s transformation into huge insect passing through Rosanna Arquett’s car sexand in Crashes up to crazy cosmetic surgery procedures in the last Crimes of the Future. Let’s celebrate the Canadian filmmaker’s 80th birthday with 10 cult scenes from his films.
The head that explodes in Scanners (1981)
Scanners possess extraordinary psychic power, capable of controlling minds and inflicting damage on their victims. Cronenberg’s first international success. The Canadian director decided to insert the famous scene of the explosion of the head, in the conference room, during the first 10 minutes of the film to “spite” those spectators who arrived late in the hall.
James Woods bewitched by the lips of Debbie Harry in Videodrome (1983)
Woods is the boss of a sex obsessed cable channel Blondie Debbie Harry (here with fiery red hair), in the film-manifesto on the contamination between man and technology. The warped television is one of the film’s wonders by special effects wizard Rick Baker (An American werewolf in London).
The sheets on fire ne The dead zone (1983)
Awakened from a coma, a literature professor discovers that he has powers of foresight. From Stephen King’s bestseller, based on Dutch psychic Peter Hurkos. The sweat on Christopher Walken’s face in the burning bed scene was actually a flame retardant chemical that had been sprayed on him.
Brundle transforms into Brundlefly ne The fly (1986)
A scientist builds a teleportation machine but something goes wrong in the process. Remake of Doctor K’s experiment from 1958, itself based on the story by George Langelaan. For his fly transformation, Jeff Goldblum underwent grueling make-up sessions lasting sometimes 10 hours.
Jeremy Irons and his double in Inseparable (1988)
Jeremy Irons plays Beverly and Elliot Mantle: the gynecological twins sucked into a tunnel of perversion. Based on the homonymous novel by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland, in turn inspired by a news episode that happened in New York in 1975, when the respectable Marcus twins were found dead in their apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, amidst dirt and a inexplicable state of semi-abandonment.
Peter Weller and the drink with the huge cockroach ne The Naked Lunch (1991)
Inspired by William S. Burroughs’ novel of the same name, the film tells the hallucinatory trip of a cockroach exterminator between heroin and humanoid parasites.
Sex with the car in Crashes (1996)
Cronenberg explores man and machine until they copulate, in one of his most controversial films (from the 1973 novel by James Graham Ballard) starring James Spader. His agent at the time asked him to direct the legal thriller The juror (1996) and to let it go Crashes, convinced it would ruin his career. Cronenberg refused, realizing Crashes and hiring a new agent. The film earned him the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh joined by an umbilical cord in eXistenZ (1999)
EXistenz is the name of a surreal video game thanks to which players experience an adventure in the parallel dimension, through biological connections. The film, despite being considered a cult of its kind today, was a total flop at the box office.
Robert Pattinson and Julianne Moore in the back seats in Maps to the Stars (2014)
Moore plays Havana Segrand, a movie star obsessed with the memory of her mother, also an actress. Pattinson is instead an attractive limousine driver, intent on “distracting” his rich customers from their little problems. On her second collaboration with Cronenberg, the former vampire of Twilight back to having sex in limo two years ago Cosmopolis. In Maps to the Stars 32 celebrities are mentioned: Ryan Seacrest, Tatum O’Neal, Ryan O’Neal, Juliette Lewis, Ryan Gosling, Drew Barrymore, Emma Watson, Paul Thomas Anderson, Garry Marshall, Bernardo Bertolucci, Carrie Fisher, Anne Hathaway, Robert Downey Jr. , Demi Lovato, Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Kiernan Shipka, Shirley Temple, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, Lance Armstrong, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Cassidy, David Cassidy, Shaun Cassidy, Harvey Weinstein, Chuck Lorre, Al Gore, The Dalai Lama, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Mother Teresa and Carl Gustav Jung.
Viggo Mortensen undergoes surgery in the sarcophagus machine in Crimes of the Future (2022)
The film starring Mortensen (in his fourth collaboration with the visionary director), Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart tells of a not too distant future, where two performance artists have transformed surgery into a successful art form. Not full-blown remake of his 1970 film of the same name. There are several reasons that drive a director to remake one of his previous works. The first lies, certainly, in technological evolution. The idea of an “inner beauty contest” in which contestants are judged on the aesthetics of their internal organs was first suggested in the previous Inseparablereleased 34 years earlier.
More stories from Vanity Fair that may interest you:
- Cannes Film Festival, Pattinson and Maps to the stars: “Sex with Julianne Moore”
- Crimes of the Future: the new film by David Cronenberg, between dystopia and perversion
Source: Vanity Fair
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