Review: Crash Limited Edition UHD
Blu-ray & UHD 4K Blu-ray: Crash (1996)
Ah the infamous Crash, made in 1996, directed by David Cronenberg, and based on J. G. Ballard’s London based 1973 novel of the same name, it follows a ‘gang’ of symphorophiliacs, that is people who are aroused by car crashes.
Arrow’s new 4k release of this film breathes new life into this classic, by if anything, underlining the distance and iciness of the self-obsessed characters.
James Ballard (James Spader) and his wife Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger) are a modern, professional couple who have sex with strangers to spice up their marriage. James is involved in a horrific crash killing the person driving the other car. This crash changes both his life and his sexual life. He meets the wife of his victim in hospital and through her he befriends Vaughn (Elias Koteas).
We see nothing of ‘normal’ in this film, everything from the crash onwards is sex and cars, and the prevalent ideas of sex and death ending in sexual gratification and release is foremost.
Catherine Unger’s portrayal of Catherine is a revelation, ice cold, stifling a yawn whilst giving her husband a soapy hand job, wondering around aimlessly like a blonde block of ice, asking her husband to describe sucking Vaughn’s anus as they have sex and she stares into the distance, seemingly feeling nothing at all.
It feels so odd, the whole film, because these are characters we are NOT familiar with, we don’t know them, but as with all of Cronenberg’s films we see what appears to be normal on the outside, though these people are anything but, because all they want to is fuck in a crash.
Body-horror rears its head throughout, but rather an alien monster, these monsters are created by their scarred bodies and perhaps minds. One of the ‘gang’ Gabrielle (Rosanna Arquette), who is a fellow car crash survivor with metal braces on both legs, has a huge scar that appears to be leg-vagina, that James Ballard fucks in the back of a car. He’s actually fucking the crash itself rather than her vagina. Hey, it’s the safe sex in their world.
Everyone in this film wants to fuck a car/machine or get fucked by a car/machine, and if it’s a crashed car covered in gore all the better. It’s cold, clinical and watching it you do feel like you’re sitting on a block of ice.
I do think this is a film that will continue to divide people. I know people who have watched it and laughed all the way through, others who have been so disgusted they’ve turned it off. I DO think that anyone watching it whether or not they like the film, would have to admit that it’s a film that remains in your consciousness as a cautionary tale of violence and sexuality.
Arrow have now released a few UHD films and this restored version of Crash is a beautiful addition. I’ve talked mainly about the film itself but another huge part of it is the sound and the way it looks. The soundtrack by Howard Shore is as perfect as it could be, sparse jangly guitars, intermittent yet unobtrusive almost like… underlining some parts. The cityscapes, tall buildings and the crashed themselves all ZING in 4k.
This really is an essential buy for a film fan, its amazing. Kudos to Arrow once again.
ULTRA HD 4K BLU-RAY LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
- 4K restoration of the uncut NC-17 version, supervised by director of photography Peter Suschitzky and approved by director David Cronenberg
- 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in High Dynamic Range
- 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Brand new audio commentary with film scholar Adrian Martin
- Cronenberg Challenge – new interview with director of photography Peter Suschitzky
- Mechanical Animals – new interview with executive producer Jeremy Thomas
- The Shore Thing – new interview with composer Howard Shore
- License to Drive – new interview with casting director Deirdre Bowen
- 2019 Q&A with Cronenberg and actor Viggo Mortensen at TIFF
- 1996 Q&A with Cronenberg and source novel writer J.G. Ballard at the National Film Theatre in London
- Behind-the-scenes footage and contemporary press interviews
- Architect of Pain: The Cronenberg Project – brand new video essay by Caelum Vatnsdal on Cronenberg’s use of architecture and location
- Crash! (1971, 18 mins) – short film originally broadcast as part of the BBC’s Review series, starring J.G. Ballard and loosely adapted from his 1970 novel The Atrocity Exhibition
- Two short films inspired by Ballard and the novel Crash: Nightmare Angel (Zoe Beloff, 1986, 33 mins) and Always (crashing) (Simon Barker and Jason Wood, 2016, 14 mins)
- Two Cronenberg short films: The Nest (2013, 10 mins) and At the Suicide of the Last Jew in the World in the Last Cinema in the World (2007, 4 mins)
- Original Trailers
- Fully illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Vanessa Morgan, Araceli Molina, Jason Wood and Zoe Beloff, and a reprinted excerpt from Cronenberg on Cronenberg
- Fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork
- Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
Crash is released 14th December 2020.