TIFF is on the precipice of launching a new way to interact with David Cronenberg’s long legacy of films. This widely-celebrated Canadian director’s accomplishments in the medium of writing, directing and cinematography will be put on display around the world in a virtual space.
David Cronenberg was born in Toronto in 1943 and has since gone on to become one of the most discussed and accomplished directors not only in Canada, but the English-speaking world as well. Cronenberg’s expertise spans the entire spectrum, from television shows and commercials to full-length films. Although known most notably for his time in the director’s chair, he has also worked extensively as a writer, actor and producer on many projects.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in co-operation with the Virtual Museum of Canada (VMC) has created a virtual tribute and exploration of the acclaimed director. Although the exhibit started as an explorational tool at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, it is about to expand to a much more global scale.
“The David Cronenberg: Virtual Exhibition can currently be viewed on our fourth floor gallery at TIFF Bell Lightbox, but once it goes live on line,” stated Wendy Manton, communications intern for TIFF, “it will be a resource that anybody from anywhere in the world can access”.
This exhibit is made available online by the Higher Learning Programme at TIFF. Manton explains that the program, “provides Canadian post-secondary students and faculty with a forum in which to examine film, television, video, new media and gaming.”
David Cronenberg: Evolution is the most recent of these learning initiatives and provides students and film-buffs with a collection of scholarly and interactive tools that provide a lens for Cronenberg’s work.
Although the site provides interesting insight the more practical attributes of his films, they also delve into the philosophical connotations to his film, there is also plenty for those who enjoy them on solely an aesthetic level. The virtual exhibit features a section for “rarities and clips” – the highlights of which is one of Cronenberg’s Nike commercials aired in 1980. The 30-second clip shows one of Cronenberg’s typical morphological, alien creatures trying on a pair of Nike Airs. There is nothing about this commercial that screams ‘cinematic masterpiece’, but it certainly provides a laugh and an overdose of that ‘80s classic cheese.
As if the Nike Air commercials were not enough diversification for his portfolio, Cronenberg also directed a series of four Ontario Government Public Service Announcments. Apparently, Cronenberg was needed to tell Ontario-residents to turn off their lights – I’m glad our tax dollars are being used to their fullest potential.
Cronenberg is so iconic that he has almost created a sub-genre all to himself, called ‘body horror’. The central idea of this concept is transformation and infection. From becoming a flesh-craved monster, to evolutionary alien breeds coming alive, Cronenberg has truly thrived in the vulgar and bizarre.
Spending most of his time in this genre, he has posed a major influence not only for horror, but for science-fiction as well. From the overly-complex scientific undertones in all of his films to the truly supernatural backdrops, it is clear that science, evolution and morality are all major elements to his work.
“I always really did feel that we have created our own universe,” stated Cronenberg, “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.”
Pointing out these “stupid things” is certainly a passion of his as it would seem from the virtual exhibit. When all his works from Stereo to The Fly are placed in one finite canvas and compared, some truly great perspectives are taken into account. Some of these critical examinations of his works include the subjects of evolution, the place of blood and gore, dismantling perceptions of mind and body as well as superheroes and advanced evolution.
The virtual exhibit also features an interactive timeline that places each of his major films to the backdrop of his life, philosophical ideologies and contexts. The spectrum of Cronenberg’s casts such a large shadow that it is impossible for one individual exhibit to touch on its entirety, but David Cronenberg: Evolution comes as close as possible.
Film-majors, fans and movie-lovers take notice: get ready to re-experience the ‘80s from the comfort of your living room in this virtual exhibit.
Explore his life, his work, his collaborations as well as his overall influence on popular culture in Canada and beyond. The virtual exhibit, David Cronenberg: Evolution launches very soon. For more information, visit virtualmuseum.ca or tiff.net.