Tuesday, June 24, 2008

reVIEW (49)

As I mention elsewhere in the Iguana, I first discovered David Cronenberg via Scanners. Fascinated by anyone who would put an exploding head on the big screen, I played Betamax Detective and quickly immersed myself in two of his earlier films, Rabid and The Brood.
Journeying ever deeper into Cronenbergia, 1983’s
Videodrome saw me as a full-fledged citizen, and though the place isn’t quite as disturbing as it once was, I believe I’ll forever be a happy resident.

Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed), author of The Shape of Rage and head of the Somafree Institute of Psychoplasmics, believes that rage is an emotion which must be externalized so that his patients can properly deal with their psychological problems. And when his theories find their perfect vessel in Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar), murder and mayhem, Cronenberg style, ensue.

The Brood, David Cronenberg’s fourth feature, explores the idea of will—specifically rage—sublimating into physical form, how pent-up emotions can trigger physiological changes in one’s body. In zeroing in on the troubled marriage between Nola and Frank (Art Hindle), and (through her role-playing sessions with Raglan) Nola’s relationship with her estranged parents (Henry Beckman and Nuala Fitzgerald), Cronenberg also explores how a family’s dysfunction can be passed on from generation to generation, how the scars—physical, psychological, or otherwise—can be handed down from mother to daughter to daughter’s daughter.
(It’s interesting to note that Cronenberg has attributed the inspiration of the film partially to the experience of a painful custody battle with his ex-wife over their daughter Cassandra.)

With an interesting visual echo of Nicholas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, Cronenberg’s The Brood is a disturbing piece that boasts fine performances from Eggar and Reed.
The film also has import beyond itself, in that it signaled the beginning of a long-term—and extremely fruitful—collaboration with composer Howard Shore.

The Brood is horror with significant subtext, and in light of news of an impending remake, I’d be remiss in not directing you to the real thing.

(The Brood OS courtesy of impawards.com; DVD cover art courtesy of amazon.com.)

(Thanx go out to the J&R Travel Agency, for arranging my renewed access to the Somafree Institute.)

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