No. 4, March 2000
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Crash
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Writer/Producer/Director: David Cronenberg
James Ballard: James Spader
Dr. Helen Remington: Holly Hunter
Vaughan: Elias Koteas
Catherine Ballard: Deborah Unger
Gabrielle: Rosanna Arquette

The 1996-film Crash by director David Cronenberg (The Fly, Naked Lunch) is very unusual and extreme. Based on J.G. Ballard's novel (1973), it is a journey into self-destruction and sexual feelings related to car crashes. James Ballard (James Spader) is a television commercial producer. Like his wife, he is into adulterous affairs, and both are aware of this fact. As Ballard escapes an almost lethal car accident with Dr. Helen Remington (Holly Hunter) whose husband gets killed, he begins to be fascinated and turned on by the combination of mortal danger and sex.
 
Ballard and his wife as well as Dr. Remington become involved with Vaughan (Elias Koteas), "a renegade scientist obsessed with the erotic power of the crash." He introduces the Ballards and Dr. Remington to a crash-survivor subculture which includes people watching test collision films and staging re-enactments of famous collisions. "Among Vaughan's acolytes is Gabrielle (Rosanna Arquette), who sports the physical mementos of her accidents (scars, leg braces, a full-body support suit) like fetish gear. In various cars and on various highways, Dr. Remington and the Ballards are steered toward a sexuality that gains potency and meaning from its head-on confrontation with mortality - and the knowledge that mortality must ultimately win."
 
Crash is a film about modern society in which people try to escape their dull life through life-threatening excitement. The film is original - no doubt about that. But Crash is neither sexually arousing (at least not for non-sadomasochist viewers) nor is it meant to be a pornographic film. Since no real erotic feelings surface from watching the film, the plot is not convincing. There is no humour in the deadly serious movie that could help overcome the repeated, obsessive actions, that may be exciting at first - in the sense that one wants to know what is going to happen - but in the end, Crash is too boring since it lacks the necessary credibility. Sex in the machine-age, erotic feelings during the violent encounter of man and metal: there are no emotions in this film which is supposed to be about a certain type of passion. If you are looking for a credible film about a deadly obsession, watch L'empire des sens (Ai no korrida) by Japanese director Nagisa Oshima (1976). 

No. 4, March 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Archives
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.