A psycho-sexual journey into oblivion in this controversial film from acclaimed director David Cronenberg. James Spader is a bored film director who explores new realms after a near-fatal car accident introduces him to a w... more »orld of sexually obsessed car craDVD Features:
The Etiology of Sexual Arousal: Edge of Life Terror
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"David Cronenberg takes chances and his pushing the edge of cinematic art is what makes his films so interesting. JG Ballard's controversial novel CRASH seemed an unlikely prospect for a film, so dark were its explorations of the outer zones of excitation and their relationship to near-death events. But Cronenberg worked through making Ballard's visions visual and his screenplay based on Ballard's book is more about interior dialogue and visceral sexual encounters as they relate to trauma.
James Ballard (James Spader) is a successful TV director who spends as much time as a lothario as he does making film. He is married to Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger) whose own sexuality leads her into stray paths. The two seem to connect physically but the fire is diminishing: they both concur that encounters with other partners enhance their sexual experiences. James is in a car accident and survives with a broken leg and scars, but the other car's male driver was killed and his surviving female companion Helen Remington (Holly Hunter) is hospitalized with James. While in the hospital both encounter a strange, scarred, limping male photographer Vaughn (Elias Koteas) who takes photos of the scars and trauma results of both James and Helen. Catherine visits James in the hospital and seems to find excitement in the scars and orthopedic paraphernalia binding her husband.
Once James is released from the hospital he is strangely drawn to the car he wrecked and finds Helen in the same mindset. The two move into physical attraction as well as an emotional attraction to Vaughn. Vaughn is obsessed with auto accidents, having been in many, and he stages famous car accidents (James Dean, Jayne Mansfield, etc) for a captive audience - which includes James, Helen, and Catherine. Vaughn insidiously draws the three into his obsession, sharing his 'actors' and fellow travelers - including Gabrielle (Rosanna Arquette - with both legs in orthopedic mechanisms), Colin and Vera Seagrave (Peter MacNeill and Cheryl Swarts) and those who help him stage his 'accidents'. Vaughn explains that he is exploring how to achieve that sensation of terror one feels during a car crash and equate it with orgasm. The odd group of folks all sexually interact with abandon: the crashed car becomes the bedchamber for bizarre sexual acting out. And how this all plays out in the end is the part of the film that simply must be seen to feel the experience.
This is clearly NOT a movie for everyone. The CD contains both the NC and the R rated version: I watched the NC version and while it is graphic and focused on sex it is oddly uninvolving emotionally - we care little about the people we meet. Perhaps part of the story here is that with the progressively dehumanization of man in his symbiotic relationship with machines, relating to fellow humans on anything except the sensual gratification is something we are losing. That is the kind of powerful statement Cronenberg shows us with these passionate yet cold people. The cast is exceptional, especially Koteas whose warped character is wholly three-dimensional as opposed to the oddly uninvolved characters Spader, Unger, and Hunter portray. A dizzying experience! Grady Harp, October 05
Excellent mainstream smut
Peter Throckmorton | Seattle, WA United States | 06/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Censors tend to do what only psychotics do... they confuse reality with illusion...I don't have a moral plan. I'm a Canadian." These are the words of visionary film maker, David Cronenberg, director of Videodrome, The Fly, Naked Lunch, Rabid and Dead Ringers. Here we're going to examine his film 'Crash', from the 1973 novel from J.G. Ballard. Crash debuted at Cannes in 1996, and won many awards over the next year or so.Although not XXX smut, this film is one of the most eerily erotic movies of the past decade. The eroticism starts from the very first scene, Deborah Kara Unger standing in front of a small airplane in a hanger. The way she purposefully takes her breast out of her bra, leans over and allows the nipple to kiss the cool metal of the plane, and then receives a man, identity unseen, entering her from the rear bent over the machine... in many ways the subtle sensualities set the viewer's mind set to observe the rest of the movie.Cut to a scene of James Spader, shagging the camera girl in the back room of a studio set. On arrival home, Unger and Spader casually and respectfully debrief each other - more worshipful listening than interrogation. Shortly, however, the violence central to the film arrives, with Spader driving alone, distracted, and swerving off the road and head on into a car. He is injured and thrown into shock - the other driver is ejected and shot like a rocket headfirst through Spader's windshield, dead. Looking up, Spader notices the passenger of the other car, Holly Hunter, inadvertently revealing a breast as she tries to free herself from her seat belt. The juxtapositions continue.Thrown together by the accident of machine and fate, Hunter and Spader meet again in the hospital, and yet again - more fatefully - at the impound yard. Both arriving as if compelled, they find themselves driving together in a car identical to the one Spader crashed, they nearly crash again, and go immediately by almost unspoken simultaneous agreement to a public garage where they make love within the car.An odd man who investigates and recreates famous automobile crashes, played by Elias Koteas, introduces Spader & Hunter to an esoteric private club. They recreate the death crash of James Dean's Porche ... same car, same lack of seat belt, all the details, regardless of the risk to the recreators. We also meet Rosanna Arquette, large metallic braces covering her black lace outfits, crippled and yet embracing her own sexuality fully. And we move on, slipping down a slope, into every combination of sexual encounter between the girls, the boys, the girls and boys, all intertwined with the violence of the ultimate urban technology. Gender soon means less than the context of the paraphilia. And curiously, most of the sex is rear entry, not facing each other, distanced as it is coupled.In your heart of hearts, you'll realize at some point in this film that there is something about your own sexuality, something whether deeply hidden or not, that is every bit as potentially pathological as these folks. The difference in many cases is simply whether or not it interferes with your life or if you can incorporate it into your accepted fetishes and continue on with job, family, and all.``It's a dangerous film in many ways,'' Cronenberg said. ``Everyone in the film is both afraid of and excited by the challenge of exploring society's fascination and our personal fascination with technology and sexuality.'' Critics split widely on the film internationally, with Roger Ebert stating "It left me wishing somebody would take this much effort to make a film about the kinds of things that turn ME on."I recommend it. Take a chance, and see how much you can identify with yourself. You don't have to tell anyone what you decide."
An anti-erotic exploration of the hollowness of modern life
D. Pierce | Toronto, Ontario | 12/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Crash is a very sexually explicit film, but if you buy or rent this movie expecting it to be an evening's erotic entertainment, you are going to be disappointed, because it is also an anti-erotic film.Even in the midst of frenzied lovemaking, the characters remain distant, their voices quiet and abstracted, their gazes directed inward. These are people who have been told all their lives by their culture, by TV and movies, that sex is, on the one hand, the most perfect form of communion and connection with another human being; and, on the other hand, that it is the ultimate in transcendent and transformative experiences. Instead, they discover to their horror that even during sex they still feel nothing. They crave connection, they are starved for a glimpse of transcendence, but no matter what they do, no matter who they do it with or how often, while their bodies may feel passion, their minds and hearts remain cold and empty. In the more recent movie Pleasantville, the Jennifer/Mary Sue character is unable to feel anything either, and remains stubbornly black and white no matter how much sex she has, until her brother suggests that "maybe it isn't the sex" that is the key to moving from black and white to color, from passionlessness to feeling. Unfortunately, in Crash, there is no one to suggest to David and Catherine Ballard that maybe it isn't through sex that they will find the transformation and connection they are craving. So they instead seek more and more extreme forms of sexual stimulation, only to be disappointed again and again. James is hurt in a car crash, and during his stay in the hospital he meets Helen (who was in the other car) and later Vaughan, a man who like James and Catherine is in desperate search of feeling, only he looks for it in the violence of car crashes. With Helen, at first James, then Catherine too is drawn into Vaughan's world, where sex and death (eros and thanatos for you Freudians) meet in the twisted metal of wrecked cars and the mutilated bodies of the victims of fatal car crashes and the survivors of near-fatal ones. They attend staged recreations of famous car crashes, like the one that killed James Dean. They have sex in crashed cars, and start touring crash sites on the freeway as a form of foreplay. They begin to watch films of crash tests and fatal race accidents like other people would watch erotic films, and to have sex with people whose bodies have been mutilated by car crashes. But not even the horror of mutilation or the adrenaline rush of near-death experience can lend James and Catherine's desperate coupling the depth of feeling that they so desperately crave. Like all the people who buy expensive automobiles to give them a feeling of power and independence, only to discover that no matter how snazzy their car is, they still feel powerless and unhappy, James and Catherine have bought into one of our culture's Big Lies, that sex is the answer. This film shows us that it is not."
Wow! Trully Unforgettable.
pizowell | 07/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Soon after a head on car crash James Ballard (Spader) is introduced to a world of fetishists who find arousal in mixing raw sexuality, the mangling of human bodies, and the twisted steel of a fresh auto accident. Their fetish soon becomes a suicidal obsession with death and the ultimate pleasure.Based on the novel by J. G. Ballard, Crash was one of most controversial movies of the 1990's. Exploring the psyche of those who extract pleasure through risk and eroticism through automobile accidents. James and Catherine Ballard are a married couple whose sex life has been reduced to recounting tales of mutual infidelity to turn each other on. James is eventually involved in a car accident that leaves one man dead. After his long rehab he meets the other survivor of the crash Helen (Hunter). They soon realize that the accident was the biggest turn on of their lives. Helen introduces James to a group, led by Vaughn (Koteas) who share in their fetish. To up the ante the group engage in more and more dangerous accidents to heighten their own arousal. Anyone familiar with director David Cronenberg's work should know what to expect from this movie, only here it seems that Cronenberg has license to go as far as possible with the message he was trying to get across about the human animal and our twisted psyche when it comes to what we find erotic. His experiment with Crash was met with much controversy at the time of it's initial release in 1996. While many will find the film repulsive and/or sick, I happen to find it a rather genius character study. A film that succeeds in challenging the viewer by showing them a different side of the human spirit and hopefully pointing out their own sick little perversions. One thing is for sure, whether or not you "like" the movie you have to admire the balls it took to make such an anti-Hollywood film that went against everything "politically correct." What's sad is that a challenging, though provoking film like Crash couldn't be made today and if it were the people making it would most likely be jailed.
Cronenberg injects the film with a dreamy, trance-like quality that sucked me in from second one. That along with the low key score created a menacing atmosphere. The acting from the always brilliant James Spader is top-notch as always. Elias Koteas is one of the most underrated actors out there, he's brilliant here as well. Holly Hunter and the lovely Deborah Unger are also strong in supporting roles. This is what happens when a great script (written by Cronenberg), a great director, and great actors merge to create a truly original and daring film.Much can be said about Crash, but the bottom line is: GO SEE IT! Rent the NC-17 version if your video store has it and explore this movie with an open mind. Whether you love it or hate it, Crash will challenge, make you think, and hopefully enlighten. Now days when crap films are recycled over and over like a commercially friendly PG-13 pop can, it was great to see a film that didn't treat the viewer like an idiot. Check it out! "
To have sex to the fullest is to have it dangerously.
Max Cady | in a galaxy far, far away... | 04/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"David Cronenberg's motif has always been the human flesh: "Death to Videodrome, long live the new flesh!". And in Crash he shows us an imaginary world of intimacy of the flesh by the breakdown of comfort and normal flow. The film is about technology and the flesh. The car with its normal flow of traffic symbolizes the mechanism of technology. This mechanism of technology distances us from our flesh and our animal appetites. Technology results in civilization and civilization results in hiding our animal behaviours. When this mechanism--this flow of traffic--is suddenly interrupted and destroyed by a car crash, the result is an awakening and a celebration of the human flesh. Crash is of course a metaphor. The human sex drive is driven by imagination. Crash is a metaphor of this sex drive. Part of this sex drive is the need to be alive and creative--the car crash is this symbol of creativity. When this is somehow achieved by James Ballard (James Spader's character) after crashing with Holly Hunter's character, he seeks to relive it like the Vaughan character who also seeks to relive celebrity car crashes. The car crash is like this ultimate unforgettable sexual experience that we have experienced in our life at some point in time that we consciously or unconsciously seek to experience again with the same or new sexual partners. And this seeking to relive is a fetish. The scars represent the excitement of the past and the unpredictable consequence of the car crash--whether you are going to live or die--allows for the reliving of the past to feel like new; thus, resulting in a sexual arousement. Only the car crash, metaphorically, can create this excitement because of its closeness to death--a masochistic approach. (The Marquis De Sade can understand Crash more fully I think.) This is part of the sexual side of the human condition. Why do people do things that are out of the ordinary? The answer maybe is Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy: Live life dangerously in order to live life to the fullest. Maybe the same can be said about sex. David Cronenberg's Crash is his best work along with Dead Ringers, Videodrome, and eXistenZ. The DVD picture quality is excellent and the sound is not bad for a 2.0 Dolby Surround--I do not think a 5.1 mix for a DVD re-release is needed. The DVD also allows you to choose between Rated NC-17 or the Rated R version. I would suggest the NC-17 because it is what Cronenberg fully intended. I definitely recommend Crash but it must be viewed and approached differently than any other film. If you think you are going to sit down, escape, and become involve with the characters, you mind as well forget about it. This is a thinking film and only for those who are open minded and have not been poisoned by too many recycled Hollywood movies."