...Not the kind of wheel you fall asleep at...

A History of Violence

Yesterday, I saw a sneak preview of A History of Violence at the Cedar Lee. I'm not a huge Cronenberg fan--his movies are usually a big hit (Spider) or a big miss (Crash) with me. But even when they ARE a complete miss--I thought Crash had some of the worst dialogue and acting I'd seen in quite some time--the ideas behind them never fail to be interesting (Crash, for example, plays with the idea of the gaze in cinema in some wickedly cool ways--check out Fetish: An Erotics of Culture for a really interesting essay on this topic).

And A History of Violence didn't disappoint. The movie was a chilling commentary on the cyclical nature of violence--the scenes of violence are really well-done, tight-knit and shocking (Ed Harris quite frankly scared the living crap outta me), and so realistic that it's beyond disturbing at times.

But even more chilling than the movie was the audience--much to my amazement, there were large groups of folks in the audience laughing, LAUGHING, at the violent moments--at folks getting their cheeks blown off, at some guy getting a fist slammed into his nose so hard that it caves in and leaves a gaping gooey mess of a hole. Not laughing in a nervous reaction to such horrendous violence. But laughing because they thought it was funny to see these people get shot up, laughing because they found it ENTERTAINING rather than DISTURBING, laughing because they missed the whole point of the movie (and in doing so, reinforced the point).

Clearly Cronenburg did not intend the violent scenes to be humorous, and yet, this reaction (though clearly dissonant with the film's intended seriousness) only served to make the movie all the more chilling. And to solidify its point.

We are entrenched in and entranced by violence. This is a scary thing.



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