Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Cronenberg and Lynch

This is a nice essay on Crash. Academic in tone and slightly bombastic in places (end of western culture etc) but quite insightful overall. It basically analyses the film through the sociological theories of alienation in consumerist ("advanced capitalist") societies. The essay also tries to place the film within the road-movie genre and also with general theories of apocalypticism.

"In Cronenberg's Crash, however, none of these previous models or paradigms have any real application. Something of a departure for Cronenberg, Crash is a film whose apocalypticism is conservative, rather than regenerative. This is a film in which the symbiosis and dispersal of Self produce a terminal, degenerative state of isolation and estrangement. In effect, the destruction in Crash is neither magical, nor sacrificial, nor regenerative, but pure suicidal immolation in the failure of collective philosophies. The protagonists of Crash lack any sustaining faith in mythical or spiritual belief systems previously supplying consensus to society. The film's apocalyptic spirit is profoundly secular and pessimistic, reflecting the postmodern refusal of both sacred and ideological conceptions of reality, depicting a culture totally cut off from its mythic past. Crash is a film about the impulses of western consciousness toward the worship of catastrophe and self-annihilation. It is a disaster story, though with none of the frantic, panicky overtones of the usual disaster story, since the catastrophe needed to provoke revelation never comes......

A movie about the end of the historical road, Cronenberg's Crash is set on the downward edge of the historical cycle. The film explores the contradictions of a decadent capitalist system out of control, as well as the psychological consequences of this superproductive consumer society. These consequences include not only the failure of the imagination and the descent into barbarism, obsession, pathology, and collective rage suggested by Adams, but also the forceful desire to tear society apart, to "throw stones at the Crystal Palace," as Dostoyevsky puts it. As a consequence, the destroyed commodity becomes part of a nostalgic reliquary for lost ritual and consensus built around shared myth and language systems. In Crash, the particular commodity facing ritualized destruction is that most symbolic artifact of American consumer culture-that wasteful, aggressive, violent totem of western civilization: the car."


In other news the DVD of Inland Empire is getting released this week. Village Voice has an interview with David Lynch, another specialist in the darker side of human affairs. One comment: "I don’t necessarily love rotting bodies, but . . . the textures are wonderful.” I am, of course, very curious about "other things that happened" too.

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