Stanley Kubrick continues to be a lightning rod of film-industry controversy nearly a decade and a half after his death. This time around it’s coming from one of the most cutting-edge filmmakers in the sci-fi/thriller/horror/weirdness game, David Cronenberg.
Here’s what the Canadian director recently told The Toronto Star when asked about how his film adaptation of Stephen King’s “Dead Ringers” compared with Kubrick’s adaptation of King’s “The Shining”:
“I think I’m a more intimate and personal filmmaker than Kubrick ever was. That’s why I find ‘The Shining’ not to be a great film. I don’t think he understood the (horror) genre. I don’t think he understood what he was doing. There were some striking images in the book and he got that, but I don’t think he really felt it.
“In a weird way, although he’s revered as a high-level cinematic artist, I think he was much more commercial-minded and was looking for stuff that would click and that he could get financed. I think he was very obsessed with that, to an extent that I’m not. Or that Bergman or Fellini were.”
There are at least a few potential takeaways from this quote, but perhaps the most overwhelming is that Cronenberg is trying to understand his place in film history — and his ego is making a strong argument. (Gasp! A movie director with an ego?!)
Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini will be remembered in film history as two of the perennial greats – right next to Kubrick. One hundred years from now, Cronenberg will be better remembered in Canada; he seems like an artist that will go in and out of fashion for future film geeks.
Cronenberg was understandably reflective of his career; he was being interviewed at an exhibit in his honor. “Cronenberg: Evolutions” features all manner of the weird gadgets and characters that have done so much to distinguish his films. That includes his remake of “The Fly,” “Videodrome” and his adaptation of the William S. Burroughs novel, “Naked Lunch.” The exhibit features his vision of Burroughs’ boozing Mugwump character – a reminder of what makes his films such creepy, inspired good fun.