The body horror of David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg is a Canadian filmmaker and one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror or venereal horror genre. This style of filmmaking explores people’s fears of bodily transformation and infection. In his films, the psychological is typically intertwined with the physical. In the first half of his career, he explored these themes mostly through horror and science fiction, although his work has since expanded beyond these genres. He has been called ” the most audacious and challenging narrative director in the English-speaking world.” His films generally involve the horror caused by a mutation, by a parasite, or by particular medical conditions.
Over the arc of his career, Cronenberg’s films follow a definite progression, a movement from the social world to the inner life. In his early films, scientists modify human bodies, which results in the breakdown of social order (e.g. Shivers, Rabid). In his middle period, the chaos wrought by the scientist is more personal, (e.g. The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome). In the later period, the scientist himself is altered by his experiment (e.g. his remake of The Fly). This trajectory culminates in Dead Ringers in which a twin pair of gynecologists spiral into codependency and drug addiction. His later films tend more to the psychological, often contrasting subjective and objective realities.
Cronenberg become a sort of a mass media guru with Videodrome (1983), a shocking investigation of the hazards of reality-morphing television and a prophetic critique of contemporary aesthetics. The issues of tech-induced mutation of the human body and topics of the prominent dichotomy between body and mind are also present in The Dead Zone (1983) and The Fly (1986), both bright examples of a personal filmmaking identity.
“Since I see technology as being an extension of the human body, it’s inevitable that it should come home to roost.”
“When we talk about violence, we’re talking about the destruction of the human body, and I don’t lose sight of that. In general, my filmmaking is fairly body-oriented, because what you’re photographing is people, bodies. You can’t really photograph an abstract concept, whereas a novelist can write about that. You have to photograph something physical. So that combination of things suggests to me a particular way to deal with violence. And it’s not a bad thing that people really understand what violence is. It’s not, however, a politically correct thing I do. I’m not a big fan of political correctness. It’s very detrimental to art in general. An artist’s responsibility is to be irresponsible. As soon as you start to think about social or political responsibility, you’ve amputated the best limbs you’ve got as an artist. You are plugging into a very restrictive system that is going to push and mold you, and is going to make your art totally useless and ineffective.”
“If I were doing a comedy with somebody slipping on a banana peel, I wouldn’t show the reality of slipping on a banana peel, which could be quite horrific, involving cracked skulls and broken spines and crippling. You have to do what’s appropriate to the movie.”
“I think of horror films as art, as films of confrontations. Films that make you confront aspects of your own life that are difficult to face. Just because you’re making a horror film doesn’t mean you can’t make an artful film.”
“When I am doing art, I have absolutely no social responsibilities whatsoever — it’s like dreaming.”
Quotes can be found at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000343/bio

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