Crash (by David Cronenberg) no doubt is by far the best movie that I have watched this year. I did watch a few movie this year where director has a theme that he explores very well and you are satisfied by the movie, but Crash just bamboozles you by what it presents and how much more it achieves. It truly is one of the most original and daring work of recent times and was deserving offered Cannes special jury award for that.
The movie revolves around a movie director Ballard (JG Ballard was actually the author of the novel on which the movie was based) who after a car accident discovers a secret society of people who get a high with car accidents and there’s one of their leader sort of figure, Vaughan, and two crash car victims who derive a sado-masochistic sexual pleasure out of car accidents. Ballard is then slowly drawn into their world and also along comes his wife/ partner Catherine.
The movie depicts car crashes as an extension of the sexual activity that the main characters in the move undergo or rather in other words they fetishize car accidents. So much so that they even watch, analyze car accidents and one of their projects is to recreate the famous car accident of actor James Dean, performing which a character later dies.
The movie is an symbolic representation of how technology invades our lives and how slowly they become an extension of our body, mind and subconscious, as here in the movie the car crashes become an extension of sexual life. In real life, as things invade us they do so slowly and also in a facade of technological advancement which makes us oblivious of its life altering affects. But here Cornenberg makes the process much more rapid and much more dangerous without any facade, where by reflecting the crude and dangerous facet of it. Here he doesn’t takes or makes any stand, which is actually very much relevant in context of such movies as they are not any stand but a mere revelation of a hidden texture of our common life that we simply overlook or are overshadowed in the wake of advancement. It’s reshaping of the human body by human technology as Vaughan says to Ballard.
There are few other threads that the movie captures, one being the influence if celebrities in our lives shown as the characters try to emulate the James dean crash.
One of the defining moments of the movie comes comes when Ballard ends up penetrating a thigh wound(which was a result of a car crash) of a woman, where by showing how commodity fetishism or sexual fetishism can make one deviate under influence of some thing’s actual purpose or reason of existence. This is again furthered by showing how Ballard and Vaughan get too much smitten by the car tattoos that they get on their bodies that they end up having a homosexual encounter with each other.
As pointed out here by an academic who specializes in art/film/performance and psychoanalysis: … the scars borne by the characters are old and bloodless –in other words that they lack vitality. The wound is “not traumatising” but, rather, “a condition of our psychical and social life” .
No doubt the film received mixed responses at it’s release but as J G Ballard says it definitely is one of the first films of next century.