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eXistenZ (1999)

6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 64,167 users   Metascore: 68/100
Reviews: 505 user | 188 critic | 29 from Metacritic.com

A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.

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Title: eXistenZ (1999)

eXistenZ (1999) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Kiri Vinokur
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Gas
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Hugo Carlaw
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Seminar Leader
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Merle
Robert A. Silverman ...
D'Arcy Nader
Oscar Hsu ...
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Noel Dichter
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Male Assistant
Kirsten Johnson ...
Female Assistant
James Kirchner ...
Landry
Balázs Koós ...
Male Volunteer
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Storyline

Allegra Geller, the leading game designer in the world, is testing her new virtual reality game, eXistenZ with a focus group. As they begin, she is attacked by a fanatic assassin employing a bizarre organic gun. She flees with a young marketing trainee, Ted Pikul, who is suddenly assigned as her bodyguard. Unfortunately, her pod, an organic gaming device that contains the only copy of the eXistenZ game program, is damaged. To inspect it, she talks Ted into accepting a gameport in his own body so he can play the game with her. The events leading up to this, and the resulting game lead the pair on a strange adventure where reality and their actions are impossible to determine from either their own or the game's perspective. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

game | assassin | virtual reality | gun | pod | See more »

Taglines:

A game to live or to die for. See more »

Genres:

Sci-Fi | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sci-fi violence and gore, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

23 April 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

eXistenZ  »

Box Office

Budget:

CAD 31,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£362,864 (UK) (30 April 1999)

Gross:

$2,840,417 (USA) (18 June 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jennifer Jason Leigh had already finished shooting her role in Eyes Wide Shut (1999) when she took on this role. When her scenes in that film required re-shooting, the schedule required for it interfered with this one. Leigh chose to stay on this film and her role in Eyes Wide Shut was re-cast. See more »

Goofs

The first time we see Ted Pikul at the trout farm, he labels an envelope with the letters LA. The L is clearly connected to the A. However in the next shot with the envelope on the conveyor belt the L and A are no longer connected. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Seminar Leader: eXistenZ. Written like this. One word. Small 'E', capital 'X', capital 'Z'. 'eXistenZ'. It's new, it's from Antenna Research, and it's here... right now.
See more »

Connections

References Naked Lunch (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

 
hyper-reality shocks!
14 July 2003 | by (Istanbul) – See all my reviews

David Cronenberg's `eXistenZ' is a well designed reflection of the philosophy of existentialism. It addresses the problems of a culture that is plugged into technology that it can no longer distinguish between fantasy and reality or between the organic and the mechanical. The movie shocks the audience with its replacement of mechanical technology with organic, metabolismic one. In this context the technology is able to be part of human body. After playing the virtual reality game of `eXistenZ', the real world feels like a game and as a result, human behavior change in order to apply violent game-urges even when the game is over. In eXistenZ, technology has evolved from machinery to biological organisms that plug directly into the human nervous system; an idea that reflects Marshall McLuhan's belief who is a well known media theorist, that computers are extensions of human consciousness. Like telephone is an extention of the ear, television is an extention of the eye, telegram is an extention of the central nervous system high-tech virtual reality is an extention of human consciousness. In eXistenZ, technology is biological and thus more human than it is in our world. But as technology becomes organic, humans become more mechanical and therefore less free, unable to resist their game-urges. eXistenZ is a virtual realty simulation of man's existence. Jean Baudrillard describes a mediated society in his book of Simulacra and Simulation, which all power to act has been transformed to appear. The world has passed into a pure simulation of itself. In eXistenZ it is obvious to see Baudrillard's mediated society with the themes of the invasion of the body, the loss of control and the transformation of the self into other.

While you are in the eXistenZ, consciousness slowly replaces with another identity, your role in the game, which is a reflection each individual's real life subconscious. While you gain the control of your hyperreal life step by step, the aura of your real life disappers. For Baudrillard, `.simulations or simulacra, have become hyperreal, more than real.' Our hyperreality, like Cronenberg's world of computer simulation, `.now feels, and, for all intents and purposes is, more real than what we call the real world.' (Baudrillard) The purpose of the game which can basically be called 'experience' is quite metaphorical. Because you can not even know what is experience unless you experience it. As existentialists say that, life without an exact explanation is absurd, the game of eXistenZ is absurd too. Cronenberg, ironically reflects the absurdity of our lives. For instance, in the game, the other roles just stand still unless you ask them a pre-programmed question. And when you put their aimless funny looking state of being into the representation of our lifes, the exposed absurdity really shocks.

The theme of the game is to understand what it is for? This hidden metaphorical question creates anguish over the people who play eXistenZ. They have no doubt about their existence, however they do not know the underlying reason of their existence. The essence.

Existentialists have held that human beings do not have a fixed nature, or essence, as other animals and plants do; each human being makes choices that create his or her own nature. In the formulation of the 20th-century French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, existence precedes essence. `Choice is therefore central to human existence, and it is inescapable; even the refusal to choose is a choice. Freedom of choice entails commitment and responsibility. Because individuals are free to choose their own path, existentialists have argued, they must accept the risk and responsibility of following their commitment wherever it leads.' Perhaps I should mention, `eXistenZ' deals with the concept of freedom of choice too. You achieve your final role in the game by taking right decisions. If you don't than the game becomes irrevelant and boring. So, you begin to interrogate the game, your existence rather than your essence. You suddenly become schzopfrenically alianated from the game and realize your position outside the game. Well as a last word, eXistenZ is a well designed reverse simulation of life thus existentialism.


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