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Entry updated 8 April 2019. Tagged: Film.

Film (1966). Co-produced, directed and written by David Cronenberg. Cast includes Rafe Macpherson and Mort Ritts. 7 minutes. Colour.

This 16mm short film, the first-ever by David Cronenberg and produced on a shoestring while the Canadian auteur studied English Literature and Linguistics at the University of Toronto, is notable more for the thematic foreshadowing of later works including Crimes of the Future (1970) and Videodrome (1982) than for any technical achievement. A series of surreal, fuzzily-cut and barely-audible declamations describe the folie à deux dynamic of a relationship between a psychiatrist (Ritts) and an obsessive former patient (Macpherson) amid a blurred, wintry landscape. Little sense of the Inner Space of either party is conveyed by the almost Pythonesque register of the dialogue but there is some nascent impression of the New-Wave motifs and fusion of Humour and Horror in SF that occur in Cronenberg's subsequent films and which in turn influenced the director's increasing reliance on outbursts of the Ballardian irrational (see the entry on J G Ballard for more). Ralph (the patient) explains how he dramatized elements of his life to amuse his former psychoanalyst but the doctor is resistant to any further demands for attention: "Your kind is always after one thing, Ralph: Communication. Communication was the original sin ... You're sick! Do you know what it means to have another mind dragging their dirty feet across your own mind?" The complicity of the dynamic between clinician and patient (see Medicine) and the relationship of the Freudian model of Psychology to that of the Catholic confessional was much discussed in the field of Sociology during the mid-to-late 1960s – philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari (1930-1992) dedicated much of Capitalisme et schizophrénie. L'anti-Œdipe (1972; trans Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia 1977) to the issue – and the dramatic motif recurs in Cronenberg's next short film, From the Drain (1967). [MD]


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