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Crash (1996)

NC-17 | | Drama | 21 March 1997 (USA)
After getting into a serious car accident, a TV director discovers an underground sub-culture of scarred, omnisexual car-crash victims who use car accidents and the raw sexual energy they produce to try to rejuvenate his sex life with his wife.

Director:

David Cronenberg

Writers:

J.G. Ballard (novel), David Cronenberg
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Popularity
1,532 ( 207)
9 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Spader ... James Ballard
Holly Hunter ... Helen Remington
Elias Koteas ... Vaughan
Deborah Kara Unger ... Catherine Ballard (as Deborah Unger)
Rosanna Arquette ... Gabrielle
Peter MacNeill ... Colin Seagrave
Yolande Julian Yolande Julian ... Airport Hooker
Cheryl Swarts Cheryl Swarts ... Vera Seagrave
Judah Katz ... Salesman
Nicky Guadagni ... Tattooist
Ronn Sarosiak Ronn Sarosiak ... A.D.
Boyd Banks ... Grip
Markus Parilo Markus Parilo ... Man in Hanger
Alice Poon Alice Poon ... Camera Girl
John Stoneham Jr. ... Trask
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Storyline

Since a road accident left him with serious facial and bodily scarring, a former TV scientist has become obsessed by the marriage of motor-car technology with what he sees as the raw sexuality of car-crash victims. The scientist, along with a crash victim he has recently befriended, sets about performing a series of sexual acts in a variety of motor vehicles, either with other crash victims or with prostitutes whom they contort into the shape of trapped corpses. Ultimately, the scientist craves a suicidal union of blood, semen, and engine coolant, a union with which he becomes dangerously obsessed. Written by Matt A. Knapp <mak8@le.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Exploring the ultimate thrill where body and metal become one! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated NC-17 for numerous explicit sex scenes | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The lead character's name, James Ballard, the same as the character in the book, is the author J.G. Ballard's real name. See more »

Goofs

After Vaughan repeatedly crashes the left front bumper of his Lincoln into a junker James Ballard is sitting in, causing major damage to the bumper and the lights, Vaughan is soon shown driving on the highway with no damage to the bumper and both left lights operational. See more »

Quotes

[Ballard is giving Helen a lift; she's wearing a white coat]
James Ballard: Where can I take you?
Helen Remington: To the airport.
James Ballard: You're not leaving?
Helen Remington: No, although not soon enough for some people. A death in the doctor's family makes patients uneasy.
James Ballard: [smiling] I take it you're not wearing white to reassure them.
Helen Remington: [unsmiling] I'll wear a fucking kimono if I feel like it.
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Alternate Versions

After Vaughan's show, he, Ballard and Helen, go together on the front seat of the car. Vaughan fondles Helen between her legs. The censored version cuts immediately after he touches her to the car arriving at Seagraves' house. It's missing a close shot of his hand between her legs, and, most importantly, the reaction of Ballard, who looks at them and smiles. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Blood and Wine (1996) See more »

User Reviews

 
An anti-erotic exploration of the hollowness of modern life

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.


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Details

Country:

Canada | UK

Language:

English | Swedish

Release Date:

21 March 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Crash See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$738,339, 6 October 1996

Gross USA:

$2,664,812

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,667,076
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:

Dolby | SDDS | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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