In 1997, BBC aired Forbidden Season, a series that focused on previously banned or censored films. The episodes served as short documentaries that featured commentary from figures such as Repo Man director and native Brit Alex Cox and pop culture expert Sir Christopher John Frayling, but in terms of American cinema, the most important discourse came from David Cronenberg and George A. Romero. After years of obscurity, their conversations have finally resurfaced.
In Cinema of the Extreme, Cronenberg lays down some profound concepts as he explains his films – at one point, he elevates Videodrome to a complex philosophical level by calling it “a comment on media, the human body, and the concept of reality as being something that is a concept of will as opposed to something that’s given to us” (to any film students looking for a paper topic, you’re welcome). He also provides some candid, articulate thoughts on censorship, a subject he briefly touched on in the 1982 Take One special we recently posted. The discussion takes its most relevant turn when he approvingly expounds on how advancing technology like video and its successor, the then nascent Internet, makes it more difficult to police material, leading to democratized or “freed” imagery.
The equally controversial Romero dedicates his segment to his classic 1978 film Dawn of the Dead. While Cronenberg cites the idea of “the beast within” as the driving theme in many of his films, Romero reveals that the zombies in his Night of the Living Dead follow-up were a criticism on the growing popularity of consumerist mall culture at that time. (As a Pittsburgher, I find his explanation ironic, as the setting he used in the film – the Monroeville Mall – now serves as an attraction for horror fans who make pilgrimages to its corridors every year.) His deconstruction doesn’t deviate much from what film theorists have already surmised about Dawn, but it’s at least satisfying to hear him reaffirm that analysis. Watch video below:
Are you a fan of Cronenberg or Romero? Do you agree with their views on film?
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