Friday, October 07, 2005

A History of Violence and Beyond

Sometimes I really miss the shocking themes ant the extreme aesthetics of David Cronenberg’s old films. The aesthetic of his last film The History of Violense is much more mild even though not complete Holywood. Comparing to Hollywood films the colors are not so vivid and images are not so glamorous. The film definitely doesn’t have the b-move aesthetic that had some of his old movies but it doesn’t resample the Hollywood aesthetic either. It actually reminds me of the American Indepndent Directors.
Moreover, the ideas of the film are not so provocative. It seems that Cronenberg is getting old and his concerns have largely changed. In the old days his films were always on sexuality, technology and the transfoming of the body. His latest three film (ExistenZ, Spider, The History of Violence) might share margingly some of the old topics- mainly violence- but they are mostly concerned with identity.
So it seems that the interest of David Cronenberg has shifted from the body to mind. He tries to explore the elements that consist our identity. Untill recently people considered that they had a consistent and unique identity in all their lives. In Cronenberg’ s latest films though his heroes are proven to be two or more different personalities simulatneously. No, most of them are not psychos. In ExistenZ they are just playing a high-tech role playing game. In History of Violence a criminal decides to leave his murdering past behind and to take on another name and another identiy. Thus, he completely transforms in this really quiet american family man untill his past catches up with him. Old co-criminals are looking for him to take their revenge. I must say that the actor Viggo Mortensen who is palying the central role has done ecxellant job in impersonating two completely different personalities. His body movemnets and facial expressions characterize the change back and forth between the man he used to be in the past and the family man he is now.

So the philosophical question is: what makes us what we are? Is there a core in us that remains unchanged through-out the whole of our lives? What consists our identity? In a book on film and philosophy of Freeland A. Cynthia and Wartenberg E. Thomasi I encountered the question which was asked of the readers of the book. Do you consider yourself to have the same consistent identity ever since you were born? The writer answered herslef saying that most people would say yes to this question. Then she moved onto the philosophical matter of identification. Well, asking myself the same question, while I read the book, I answered " no I don’t consider myself to have the same consistent identiy since I was born". There are too many episodes between my childhood and now that have changed my personality almost completely. I am almost capable of seing the border of every change. And I think that there is more too it than the process of growing up and maturing. Other writers have noted that in contemporary society lots of people have the sense of a fragmented identity. Well this is how I feel too. But I will leave the question open for you. Come on, ask yourself is your identity so consistent?

1 comment:

Fotis said...

Well, I agree with your inference that one’s identity isn’t so consistent and unchangeable in the life. The personality and consequently the identity of a person is shaped and changes according to the social environment and its circumstances during the years. I do believe that someone can reform his/her beliefs even at the age of fifty, if he/she lets the mind open. Moreover, nowadays in our post-modern hyper-consuming society, people look more schizophrenic than ever, as their behaviors consist of several fragmented attitudes that one perhaps is independent of the other.