In eXistenZ, DAVID CRONENBERG sends Lara Croft packing to an old people’s home. This is the future of video games, and it's

a scary place where reality meets virtuality and technology merges with flesh. ‘.‘.’0ids: Nigel Floyd

FUNNY AND PLAYFUL ARE NOT THE FIRST WORDS one associates vvith the Work of David Cronenberg. the (‘anadian filmmaker who gave us the venereal horror of Shivers. the gynaecological dread of Dead Ringers and the perverse auto-eroticism of ('rus/z. Not that his films are vvithout humour: on the contrary. there is a droll side to his fertile imagination that seeps into even his most cerehral vvork.

His latest film. eXistenZ. adopts an almost self-mocking tone. At the same time it continues to explore his perennial fascination with such intellectual questions as the fluidity of our self-created identities. the blurring of the line between fantasy and reality. and the vvay that new technologies can fundamentally alter our sense of who vve are -— and vvho vve might become.

lt’s five years since (‘ronenherg starting \vriting eXistenX »— his thirteenth feature and the first since l’idem/mmt' to he based on an original screenplay -- so it‘s hard for him to

14 THE “ST 29 {‘0' i3 NS“)

The meanig eXistenZ

'For me, reality is a shifting, malleable, flexible, organic thing.’

David Cronenberg

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- I David («Le v rg


link the film's self-conscioust playful tone to a specific time or a particular state of mind.

'I don’t think l was feeling particularly self—mocking or humoroUs or deconstructionist at the time.’ ('roncnherg says. ‘()hvious|y. the middle part of the movie plays pretty much as a comedy. and if the audience sits there and doesn‘t laugh. I'm going to get pretty upset. because I'm going to feel that they don‘t get it. But vvhy that should he. I have no idea.’

As alvvays. ('ronenherg simply follovved where his \vayvvard imagination led. ‘You don’t resist. 1 don‘t want to impose an artificial. ahstract. preconceived structure on things. If every fihre of my being is saying do it this vvay rather than that way. then I‘m not going to mess it around hecatise of some ahstract concept that pleased me at some earlier point. That other. more organic stuff takes precedence. alvvays.‘

In the film. ('ronenherg posits a future vvhere celehrity game designers like Allegra (ieller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) have created organic systems that rise spinal jacks to tap into the player‘s nei'vous system. These access the player's desires. memories and fears. ftising their consciousness with the imaginary world of the game.

Allegra‘s employers. Antenna Research. have spent $38 million over five years researching the eXisIm/ game. hut there are those vvho fear that her de-forming of reality eventually will lead to the dissolving