Jan 28, 2011


The majority of eXistenZ can be attributed to the aesthetic and visual motifs seen throughout Cronenberg's career spanning such volumes of bio-synthetic lascivity as Naked Lunch, Videodrome, and Crash. Much of eXistenZ's imagery can be spotted in many of Cronenberg's earlier works from the mutated corporate espionage of Naked Lunch to the anti-technology sentiments of Videodrome. It's where these influences of projects past really adhere eXistenZ into such an exquisite category. You see, eXistenZ was released around a month after The Matrix premiered. The Matrix was one of those films whose vibrations through word-of-mouth increased at an alarming rate, sent screaming off into every magazine, catalog, and film connoisseurs mouth. Lucky for us then, now we have eXistenZ all to ourselves. It really is a shame though, especially since Inception seems to have borrowed many pockets of ambiguity and reality-twisting turns from Cronenberg's more coherent film and has only reached a fraction of the acclaim.

What's interesting to me is Jude Law's performance of Ted Pikul in eXistenZ. Having the much maligned Repo Men fresh in my thoughts, both characters are set on a similar stream of avoidance and violence, although one is less passive and merciless than the other. In Repo Men, the comparison can be drawn at the plot fixture of bio-organics. The pricing is irrelevant and not to be found in eXistenZ but the means to achieve technological and psychotropic escapism through synthetic flesh is where the lines meet. For the perfect antithesis of video games and the need to immerse oneself into a fantastical world of digital manipulation, avoid films like Stay Alive and stick with Cronenberg's definitive demonizing of console gaming. For those uneducated to eXistenZ, the film opens up quickly in the midst of a trial seminar to world famous game designer, Allegra Geller, showcasing her newest game, eXistenZ. By utilizing neural-sensors in a squid-like host, Allegra Gellar connects each "game pod" with umbilical cords wired in through Bio-Ports, located in the base of the "victims" spine. From here is where the film spins wildly, leaving you clawing at conceptions of what is real and what isn't. Soon after the game is launched, an assassin reveals a weapon constructed out of tattered flesh and bone to execute the "demoness, Allegra Geller." 

Soon aspiring PR Ted Pikul is on the run with a wounded game designer with a contract on her head. This is where eXistenZ slips in and out of dream states as many questions are raised inquiring as to which reality is the game and which is the real world. Cronenberg makes excellent theoretical terror out of a virtual hallucination that will no doubt be emulated in the far future. Just think, what if Nintendo's Virtual Boy did what it intended to do? I'm not referring to headaches either. Later on in the film, minuscule evolved pseudo-Mugwumps appear to Jude Law's immediate surprise. eXistenZ is a strange delight in this manner which crossbreeds Cronenberg's best into a universal piece of science-fiction. What developed as Interzone in Naked Lunch is later created by the hivemind program, eXistenZ, in the realization of the Trout Farm. Various extraterrestrial beasts are dissected in a crude and seedy manner. A manner in which will spark a craving to shower. The dingy plastic sheeting only adds to the slimy sensation that rolls right off the screen. Given these examples, eXistenZ could be considered Cronenberg's filmic concept of a Greatest Hits album - a scrapbook, if you will. 

What eXistenZ provides is a galvanizing science-fiction odyssey that indeed tips the scales in the favor of gamers. Had you never experimented with gaming, most of the thematic way-points of eXistenZ will fall upon deaf ears. Cronenberg continues to promote hard fact as to his status of auteur. Viewing a single scene in any film of his will immediately draw a conclusion to being "Cronenbergian." It's a shame that The Matrix shadowed the release of eXistenZ as it is the superior virtual plane of existence. What eXistenZ accomplished dutifully in a single film took The Matrix three films to match, but to the point of a wilting franchise. Cronenberg's world of metaflesh continues to amaze and feed that which hungers morbidly inside us. Faults may be found in the constantly evolving world of eXistenZ but like any great game, isn't perfect. It's scenes like Jude Law's constructing of "the special" into a skeletal weapon that make Cronenberg's cinema into the force of grotesque vitality that they remain to this day.


1 comment:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

This film has one of the most memorable endings in the history of cinema: "WAIT A MINUTE, ARE WE STILL IN THE GAME?" that nailed it to absolute perfection. By the way, what spoiled the film for me was all the British garbage appearing in it, why couldn`t Cronenberg have hired ALL American actors instead?, then the film would have been even better.