Politics of Insects: David Cronenberg's Cinema of Confrontation
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Canadian film director David Cronenberg has long been a figure of artistic acclaim and public controversy. Bursting into view with a trio of shocking horror films in the 1970s, Cronenberg's work has become increasingly complex in its sensibilities and inward-looking in its concerns and themes. This trajectory culminates in the multiplex successes of his most recent films, which appear to conclude a straightforward evolutionary arc that begins in the cold outside of shock-horror and arrives in the warm embrace of commercial and critical success.
Scott Wilson argues persuasively that Cronenberg's career can be divided into broad thematic stages and instead offers a complex examination of the relationship between three inter-related terms: the director as auteur; the industry that support or denies commercial opportunity; and the audience who receive, interpret and support (or decry) the vision represented on screen. The Politics of Insects provides an opportunity to explore Cronenberg's films in relation to each other in terms of their thematic continuity, and in terms of their relationship to industrial concerns and audience responses.
commercial success of his previous two features that, in turn, provided the impetus for Cronenberg to move from low- to medium-budget features. This, second, allowed Cronenberg to further develop his technical skills as a director and, third, provided the first opportunity for him to work with material he had not written himself. Finally, Fast Company introduced Cronenberg to technicians with whom he would form creative relationships that would, in some cases, continue through his career (Rodley,
confusing of actual events with his own fantasized interpretation. What results is a situation where the audience is required to sift through the growing narrative much as Spider himself is attempting to. As we initially encounter it, the marriage between Bill (Gabriel Byrne) and Mrs Cleg (Miranda Richardson) is one marked by general long-suffering antagonism and difficulty. Mrs Cleg’s11 favourite story to Boy Spider is of her own memories of encountering spider webs, like ‘sheets of muslin’,
Scanners while being metaphorically referenced in Naked Lunch) means that these three films enter into a reciprocal relationship with the three films of Chapter 4, functioning as their thematic shadows. James’ final dialogue in Crash, ‘Maybe the next one . . . maybe the next one . . .’, resonates both with Catherine’s comment from earlier in the film and with a moment in The Brood that establishes this film as its thematic shadow. In The Brood, after collecting Candice from the police station
of the narrative, leading one to conclude that this film’s purpose is to focus attention fully on the various disciplinary discourses at work in the film’s content. To be sure, The Brood continues Cronenberg’s process of metacommentary, with the primary point of distinction being that the formal processes at work in the film become invisible by being generically conventional. In this fashion, the interpretive and analytic gaze (of the audience and, eventually, the critic) is drawn to the
the table when she twisted my words. You should have stopped her. You should have hit her when she hit me and you should have smacked her when she smacked me. Oh god – I love you. But you didn’t protect me, and you should have. (Cronenberg, 1979a) In both sequences Raglan performs as the father in order to elicit responses regarding how the father should not have behaved, in Mike’s case, and how he should have behaved, in Nola’s. Three points emerge from these examples: the first of these is, as