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Crash, Cronenberg’s scandalous film is being re-released in cinemas

Cinema

As the re-release of David Lynch’s “Elephant Man” brought together more than 10,000 people in just one week, Carlotta is preparing another big hitter. The heritage film distributor is putting David Cronenberg’s scandalous movie “Crash” back on the big screen. First released in 1996 and awarded the Special Prize by the Cannes jury, now it can be watched in its restored 4K version for the first time.

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For some, a good shagging session involves a few caresses, some tender penetration, followed by a quick release and a loving hug, all set against the classic (but efficient) dulcet tones of Barry White. For others, including the film-maker David Cronenberg, a successful part of getting your leg over resides in a whole other equation: the backseat of a grubby car, suspenders holding up fishnet stockings, scratches and cuts, all to the sounds of dark melodies, pumping the speakers to the max. The pitch for Crash, the Canadian director’s 14th movie, could be resumed as follows: a BDSM soft porn with an excellent script. 

 

Adapted from the novel by J.G. Ballard – the British science fiction and social anticipation writer who died in 2009 – Crash outlines the sexual and later morbid obsessions of a wealthy couple of libertines. After nearly dying in a car accident, the husband James Ballard starts an adulterous affair with the woman who’d crashed into him, Helen Remington. Obsessed with her, the injured man follows her everywhere, sticks to her like glue and has sex with her on a dusty backseat and against a cracked windscreen. His mistress climaxes with ease, and after coming all she wants is to hear an engine rev and a handbrake released. As a member of a group of people all sexually aroused by car accidents, Helen, as icy as she is fiery, leads neophyte James to Vaughn, a crazy and heavily scarred stuntman, who initiates the Ballard couple in carnal mortal rites heavily scented with a blend of semen, blood and burnt sheets.

 

© 1996 ALLIANCE COMMUNICATIONS CORPORATION, IN TRUST. Tous droits réservés.

A fetish aesthetic 

 

With jolting shots that echo the movements of violent coitus, David Cronenberg zooms in on the details. Like the character Alex DeLarge, who is forced, with the help of eye-openers, to look at unbearable images in A Clockwork Orange (1971), the viewer is sucked into the fetishist delusions of the libertine couple. More than that, they end up enjoying it. With Crash, we get lost in the streaks of blue and red smoke of Peter Suschitsky (the English cinematographer who collaborated ten times with David Cronenberg), the traumas become exhilarating, the coldness become scorching and the sex is as delectable as it is abrasive. Skirts with crotch holes, red leather gloves, garter belts and ultra-sexy tibial prosthetics: the costumes designed by Cronenberg’s sister Denise, are reminiscent of a good porn film (if there are any) from the 1990s.

 

But more than just a film dissecting the links between eroticism and mechanics, Crash is a tribute to love. Starting with the music, because this film, which at times is extremely violent towards its characters, nevertheless seems to envelop them in a protective atmosphere with a score by Howard Shore - with whom the Canadian filmmaker collaborated on all his films, with the exception of Dead Zone (1983). Leading this sadomasochistic clan towards occasionally tender ground (like when the Ballard couple slowly make love until they come together), often sleazy, always visceral, the electro tunes reveal David Cronenberg's love for an aesthetic in its own right: that of the 90s. Everything in Crash makes us miss the era of that ultimate nightclub The Haçienda in Manchester, the end of Minitel and the early days of Motorola mobile phones. It seems so shocking now when Catherine Ballard smokes in hospital by the bedside of her convalescing husband, and we can’t help but be scandalised by so many sex scenes without a single condom. But ultimately, on (re)discovering the winner of the 1996 Cannes jury’s Special Prize, almost twenty-five years later, it’s impossible not to feel regret that such freely made films are no longer shown in cinemas today.

 

Crash (1996) by David Cronenberg, in cinemas now.

Crash de David Cronenberg : bande-annonce 2020

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