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In Defence of Violence

Gennaio 2006
E’ avvenuta una svolta nella carriera di David Cronenberg, il regista di Crash che con l’ultimo A History of Violence pare aver raggiunto  una più pacata maturità. Ma la sua voce rimane decisamente contro-corrente, soprattutto quando si parla di violenza al cinema. Che a volte, dice, può essere istruttiva.
File audio:

David Cronenberg
David Cronenberg

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

Is there too much violence in movies? One person who doesn’t seem to think so is the Canadian director David Cronenberg, whose nicknames include “David ‘Deprave’ Cronenberg,” “the King of Venereal Horror” and “the Baron of Blood.” He has upset critics and audiences alike with films like Dead Ringers and Crash, and his latest offering, A History of Violence, is no exception. The film, which was released in Italy last month, stars Viggo Mortensen as the owner of a diner in small-town America who is obliged to take the law into his own hands. The film premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, where a journalist from the London Times asked Cronenberg whether he felt any responsibility in showing violence on screen:

David Cronenberg (Canadian accent):  

The responsibility is to the art form, nobody creates art in a vacuum, that’s certainly true, but your first fidelity is to the film itself. Once you’ve decided to do the project, then you are trying to realise the potential of the script and, once you’ve decided to do the project, you no longer have to think about those other things. Now, the question is “Make the movie the best way that you can.” I mean, we could get into long discussions and I must say that in England I’ve had lots of these discussions about Crash and the portrayal of violence and so on and I find it really kind of a wearing and well-worn subject, not that it’s ever been resolved. I mean, the question of, you know, “Do people do violence when they see it on the screen? Do people kill people if they see people killed on the screen?” I think if that were true the world would be de-populated, frankly. So I think it’s evident that it’s not true that people just do what they see on the screen. I think in fact what we did in this movie, vis-a-vis violence, was ultra-responsible because it’s a serious discussion of the nature of violence and the impact that it has on society and families and human life and on human bodies as well.

THE AMERICAN WAY

A Brazilian journalist then asked Cronenberg whether the film’s violence was uniquely American:

David Cronenberg:  

It was evident to me from the beginning that this was a very American story set in Middle America, a kind of almost a Garden of Eden, a sort of perfect little Middle American town. Of course that made it perfect to be shot completely in Canada, which it was! And the movie does have the resonances of westerns, of American western movies and the mythology involved, a man who takes a gun in his hand to protect his family and his homestead against other men with guns is a very, very Western, American kind of myth. So I embraced that fully because it was of the essence of what this movie was, I wanted to engage that and explore that. And so, to that extent, it is very American in its tone, but, as any artist could tell you, in order to be universal, you have to be specific, and the specifics of this movie were American, but the commentary on violence, I think, is quite universal. Every country has a history of violence, every country was founded on violence, every nation exercises its self-determined right to commit violence against other nations and its own citizens. There’s not one country that can claim that it doesn’t. So, as I say, the specifics are American, but the resonances are universal.

THE SEXUAL ELEMENT

And, last but not least, an American journalist asked Cronenberg about the relationship between sex and violence in the movie:

David Cronenberg:

Sex and violence have always gone very well together: it’s like bacon and eggs! And if you look at the history of cinematic violence, you will see that there’s a long one. I think there’s always a sexual component in violence and there’s a violent component in sexuality, (of) any kind. So, to me, that’s just a natural thing to explore and because these things often reveal themselves in extreme situations, I mean obviously dramatists are drawn to extreme and dramatic situations. So, as George Bernard Shaw said, “Conflict is the essence of drama.” You know, you don’t have it, you don’t have a drama, so that’s not always there but to me it’s such a primordial and yet complex thing because it has ramifications on every level, including the political level, I think; it’s almost a touchstone, but not just for me, for many artists.


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Glossary

director - regista.

nicknames - soprannomi.     

Dead Ringers - titolo italiano, Inseparabili.

latest offering - ultimo lavoro.

diner - piccolo ristorante.

to take the law into his own hands - prendere in mano la legge, difendersi da solo.

on screen - sul grande schermo.

in a vacuum - nel vuoto.

script - sceneggiatura.

portrayal - rappresentazione.

wearing and well worn subject - argomento trito e ritrito (lett. consumato).

to be shot - essere girato.

homestead - fattoria.

to engage that - occuparmi di questo.

claim - affermare.

are drawn - sono attratti.

touchstone - pietra di paragone.