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David Cronenberg Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (9) | Trivia (27) | Personal Quotes (42)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 15 March 1943Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Birth NameDavid Paul Cronenberg
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

David Cronenberg, also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1943. His father was a journalist, and his mother was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early age (he wrote and published eerie short stories, thus following his father's path) and for music (playing classical guitar until he was 12), Cronenberg graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Literature after switching from the science department. He reached the cult status of horror-meister with the gore-filled, modern-vampire variations of They Came from Within (1975) and Rabid (1977), following an experimental apprenticeship in independent film-making and in Canadian television programs.

Cronenberg gained popularity with the head-exploding, telepathy-based Scanners (1981) after the release of the much underrated, controversial, and autobiographical The Brood (1979). Cronenberg become a sort of a mass media guru with Videodrome (1983), a shocking investigation of the hazards of reality-morphing television and a prophetic critique of contemporary aesthetics. The issues of tech-induced mutation of the human body and topics of the prominent dichotomy between body and mind were back again in The Dead Zone (1983) and The Fly (1986), both bright examples of a personal film-making identity, even if both films are based on mass-entertainment materials: the first being a rendition of a Stephen King best-seller, the latter a remake of famous American horror movie.

With Dead Ringers (1988) and Naked Lunch (1991), the Canadian director, no more a mere genre movie-maker but a fully realized auteur, got the acclaim of international critics. Such profound statements on modern humanity and ever-changing society are prominent in the provocative Crash (1996) and in the virtual reality essay of eXistenZ (1999), both of which well fared at the Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals. In the last two filmic projects Spider (2002) and A History of Violence (2005), Cronenberg avoids expressing his teratologic and oniric expressionism in favor of a more psychological exploration of human contradictions and idiosyncrasies.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Marco Rambaldi<rambaldi@hotmail.com>

Spouse (2)

Carolyn Zeifman (1979 - present) (2 children)
Margaret Hindson (1970 - 1977) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (9)

His films generally involve the horror caused by a mutation, by a parasite, or by particular medical conditions.
Uses dark backgrounds
Films often include explicit carnage
Frequent references to the Flesh or the New Flesh
Frequently uses the music of Howard Shore
Frequently casts Robert A. Silverman
Movies about crime families
Frequently casts Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel
Often uses Canada as a filming location (The Fly (1986), _A History Of Violence (2005)_, Videodrome (1983), Dead Ringers (1988)

Trivia (27)

Costumes in his films are usually designed by his sister Denise Cronenberg.
Was set to direct Total Recall (1990). He even wrote a few drafts of the script before Paul Verhoeven took over.
Brother of costume designer Denise Cronenberg.
Uncle of Aaron Woodley
Is of German / Dutch descent
John Carpenter paid homage to him in Escape from New York (1981). One of the United States Police Force guards is on the line with Hauk, then adds that Cronenberg is on the line for him. Another person paid homage to in the movie was George A. Romero, who had Isaac Hayes's right-hand man named after him.
President of jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999
Directed an episode of Friday's Curse (1987), The Services, called Faith Healer. 13 years later, he appeared in the Friday the 13th film (unreleated to the series), Jason X (2001).
Was offered the chance to direct Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) but he declined.
His crew referred to the final Brundlefly monster seen in the climax of The Fly (1986) as the Space Bug.
Father was a bookstore owner and sometime columnist for the Toronto Telegram. Mother was a piano rehearsal accompanist for the National Ballet.
Father died at age 61.
Deferred his own salary to make Spider (2002).
Father of Assistant Director Cassandra Cronenberg.
Cites Winter Kept Us Warm (1965) as his inspiration for becoming a filmmaker. It was screened at the University of Toronto when he was a student.
Has admired bugs and insects since childhood. This fascination has lingered on, and can be felt through many of his films.
At one point he was in line to direct The Singing Detective (2003), with Al Pacino in the lead.
Turned down the chance to direct Top Gun (1986).
Turned down the chance to direct RoboCop (1987).
His regular cinematographer until 1988 was Mark Irwin until Dead Ringers (1988), on which Irwin was unable to work because of his commitment to The Blob (1988). Cronenberg then hired Peter Suschitzky, who became his regular cinematographer, and Cronenberg and Irwin have not worked together since then.
His father was a journalist and his mother played the piano. These roles are reversed in The Fly (1986), in which Jeff Goldblum plays the piano to impress Geena Davis, who plays a journalist.
Has often referred to The Brood (1979) as his own twisted version of Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).
Profiled in "American Classic Screen Interviews" (Scarecrow Press).
Has directed 2 actors to Oscar nominations: William Hurt (Best Supporting Actor, A History of Violence (2005)) and Viggo Mortensen (Best Actor, Eastern Promises (2007)).
He once said that Scanners (1981) was the most frustrating directing job he'd ever had.
Inducted to Canada's Walk of Fame in 1999.

Personal Quotes (42)

It's my conceit that perhaps some diseases perceived as diseases that destroy a well-functioning machine actually turn it into a new but still well-functioning machine with a different purpose. The AIDS virus: look at it from its point of view. Very vital, very excited, really having a good time. It's really a triumph if you're a virus. See the movies from the disease's point of view. You can see why they would resist all attempts to destroy them. These are all cerebral games, but they have emotional correlatives as well.
Since I see technology as being an extension of the human body, it's inevitable that it should come home to roost.
My dentist said to me the other day: I've enough problems in my life, so why should I see your films?
You have to believe in God before you can say there are things that man was not meant to know. I don't think there's anything man wasn't meant to know. There are just some stupid things that people shouldn't do.
Everybody's a mad scientist, and life is their lab. We're all trying to experiment to find a way to live, to solve problems, to fend off madness and chaos.
Drugs and creativity don't go together for me. Like everybody in the '60s, I had one acid trip and some cocaine and hash, you know, the stuff everyone did. But it's been 30 or 40 years since I bothered to do that. What I need is clarity. Even not having enough sleep is a problem for me, never mind doing any kind of drugs.
"Yeah, it is metaphorical...it isn't just a special effect in a vacuum." - on the exploding head in Scanners (1981).
When you're in the muck, you can only see muck. If you somehow manage to float above it, you still see the muck, but you see it from a different perspective. And you see other things, too. That's the consolation of philosophy.
All stereotypes turn out to be true. This is a horrifying thing about life. All those things you fought against as a youth: you begin to realize they're stereotypes because they're true.
Censors tend to do what only psychotics do: they confuse reality with illusion.
I think of horror films as art, as films of confrontations. Films that make you confront aspects of your own life that are difficult to face. Just because you're making a horror film doesn't mean you can't make an artful film.
If you look at a baby, the most fascinating thing to a baby, a newborn, is the human face. The baby will look at your face and watch your face move and want to touch it. If it's a fantastic head and what it's talking about is fantastic, then you can't have anything better. It's the best!
Civilization is repression. You don't get civilization without repression of the unconscious, of the id. And the basic appeal of art is to the unconscious. Therefore, art is somewhat subversive of civilization. And yet at the same time it seems necessary for civilization. You don't get civilization without art.
You need language for thought, and you need language to anticipate death. There is no abstract thought without language and no anticipation. I think the anticipation of death without language would be impossible.
If religion is used to allow you to come to terms with death, and also to guide you in how you live your life, then I think art can do the same thing. But in a schematic way, in a much less rigid and absolute way, which is why it appeals to me and religion doesn't.
The versions of The Dead Zone (1983) and The Fly (1986) that you find on video carry my name, and they are the films that I made, but I hate the way they look on tape. Too bright.
I have no rules. For me, it's a full, full experience to make a movie. It takes a lot of time, and I want there to be a lot of stuff in it. You're looking for every shot in the movie to have resonance and want it to be something you can see a second time, and then I'd like it to be something you can see 10 years later, and it becomes a different movie, because you're a different person. So that means I want it to be deep, not in a pretentious way, but I guess I can say I am pretentious in that I pretend. I have aspirations that the movie should trigger off a lot of complex responses.
We've all got the disease - the disease of being finite. Death is the basis of all horror.
As filmmaker, I ask questions but don't have answers. Moviemaking is a philosophical exploration. I invite the audience to come on the journey and discover what they think and feel.
My movies are body-conscious. The first fact of human existence is the human body. If you get away from physical reality, you're fudging, in fantasy land, not coming to grips with what violence does.
We question a country's self-mythology. Perfect town and perfect family are - like Westerns - part of America's mythology, involving notions of past innocence and naïveté. But is it possible for innocence to exist while something heinous transpires elsewhere? What does it take for a country to be rich and prosperous? What does that country do to the world?
To me, the life that we live is heaven. My idea of paradise is life on Earth. But we often don't know it, and can't see it that way, until, I'm sure, we start to leave it. I guess that's the way I feel about film.
I don't have a moral plan. I'm a Canadian.
(on being voted the Peoples Choice at the 2007 T.I.F.F.) I feel like I've just been elected prime minister of Canada!
I identify with the parasites.
When we talk about violence, we're talking about the destruction of the human body, and I don't lose sight of that. In general, my filmmaking is fairly body-oriented, because what you're photographing is people, bodies. You can't really photograph an abstract concept, whereas a novelist can write about that. You have to photograph something physical. So that combination of things suggests to me a particular way to deal with violence. And it's not a bad thing that people really understand what violence is. It's not, however, a politically correct thing I do. I'm not a big fan of political correctness. It's very detrimental to art in general. An artist's responsibility is to be irresponsible. As soon as you start to think about social or political responsibility, you've amputated the best limbs you've got as an artist. You are plugging into a very restrictive system that is going to push and mold you, and is going to make your art totally useless and ineffective.
If I were doing a comedy with somebody slipping on a banana peel, I wouldn't show the reality of slipping on a banana peel, which could be quite horrific, involving cracked skulls and broken spines and crippling. You have to do what's appropriate to the movie.
When I am doing art, I have absolutely no social responsibilities whatsoever -- it's like dreaming.
[on M. Night Shyamalan] I HATE that guy! Next question.
People ask me how is it to direct special effects? Is it fun? And in fact it's kind of like getting a performance out of a bowl of shrimp salad actually, because it lies there and it's kind of you know, it's agonizing and I hate it, directing special effects I like working with actors and it's much more fun.
[on awards] It can be very exhausting if you're nominated, so at a certain moment, part of you is almost praying you don't get any nominations.
[on Michael Fassbender] Even with an intellectual character, his approach is visceral. He jokingly likes to say the only research he did was read 'The Idiots Guide to Carl Jung'. He's just so perky it drives you crazy. One day I found him standing out in the sun in his costume and makeup, with this big smile. I said to him, 'Michael, why are you smiling like that?' He said, 'I don't know... life.' I said, 'It's so irritating that you're happy all the time.'
[on embracing digital film recording] I have no particular affection for 'film'. It's about time film died its natural death. However, the filmmaking process is exactly the same. Why would you ever want to shoot film? Well, I don't.
I have no demons. I was always a nature boy. I loved nature and animals and insects. And [Brandon] proved to have that same kind of sensibility, which undoubtedly has something to do with the kind of movies I've made and that he seems to be making as well. It comes from a real affection for the strangeness of animal life on earth. I's very pure and very direct.
[on son Brandon's developing interest in film-making] I noticed he was incredibly sensitive to the music of film. He knew what scary music was. He'd run away.
[on working with Patrick McGoohan on Scanners (1981)] He had extreme Catholic views about sexuality, which came onto the set. My leading lady... came to me incredibly distraught and said, 'Patrick said, 'Are you a whore? Are you a slut?' And he started to lay into her because she'd had, like, five husbands. That was Patrick, and those were the things I had to deal with as a relatively young director. He was probably the most difficult actor I ever worked with, though he gave a fantastic performance.
[on working with Patrick McGoohan on Scanners (1981)] He's a brilliant actor; the voice, the charisma, the presence, the face. Phenomenal. And he was aging so well; he looked so great in that beard. But he was so angry. His self-hatred came out as anger against everybody and everything. He said to me, 'If I didn't drink I'd be afraid I'd kill someone.' He looks at you that way and you just say, 'Keep drinking.' It's all self-destructive, because it's all self-hating. That's my theory. He was also terrified. The second before we went to shoot he said, 'I'm scared.' I wasn't shocked; Olivier said that he was terrified each time he had to go on stage. With Patrick, though, it was just so raw and so scary-full of anger and potent. But he was sensing the disorganization; the script wasn't there, so he was right to worry about it. He didn't know me. He didn't know whether I could bring it off or not. We parted from the film not on very good terms ultimately.
[on The Dark Knight Rises as 'art'] I don't think they are making them an elevated art form. I think it's still Batman running around in a stupid cape. I just don't think it's elevated. Christopher Nolan's best movie is Memento, and that is an interesting movie. I don't think his Batman movies are half as interesting, though they're 20 million times the expense.
[on Christopher Nolan] What he is doing is some very interesting technical stuff, which, you know, he's shooting IMAX and in 3-D. That's really tricky and difficult to do. I read about it in American Cinematography Magazine, and technically, that's all very interesting. The movies, to me, they're mostly boring.
[on superhero movies] But a superhero movie, by definition, you know, it's comic book. It's for kids. It's adolescent in its core. That has always been its appeal, and I think people who are saying, you know, Dark Knight Rises is, you know, supreme cinema art, I don't think they know what the fuck they're talking about.
Frankly, I don't like seeing my old films. When you make a movie, it's yours. It's in your control, up to a certain point. And, after that, you let it go. It flies out. It's like having a kid. It's a cliche but your 'kid' becomes an individual creature in the world. It intersects with people you don't know, and it has experiences you don't control anymore, and that's what you want. So, unlike your children, whom you might invite home to dinner, I don't invite my films home to dinner.
I'm a totally anti-storyboard person.

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