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Morris, Peter
Toronto, ECW Press, 1994.760pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 1-55022-191-4. (Canadian Biography). Distributed by General Distribu­tion Services. CIP

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by Catherine Cox

Volume 22 Number 6
1994 November / December

Morris, who teaches film at York University, provides a useful introduction to the life and career of a celebrated and controver­sial Canadian filmmaker. By discussing Cronenberg's work in the context of develop­ments in Canadian cinema, he also traces thirty years of change in the industry.

Raised in a middle-class Toronto family, Cronenberg aspired to be a scientist, then a writer, before discovering film while at the University of Toronto. His first films are all characteristic of the underground cinema of the late 1960s. During the 1970s his films became more commercial and were made with assistance from the Canadian Film Development Corporation and tax-shelter financing. Genie Awards for Videodrome and Dead Ringers and the financial success of The Pit/ established him as a "bankable" director in the 1980s. Continued international recognition and an unprecedented third Genie in 1992 for directing Naked Lunch attest to his success.

Morris provides clear synopses of Cronenberg's films and notes their critical reception and some of the challenges faced during production. The surreal and grotesque nature of many of his films, their violent images and possible misogyny have earned many criticisms, which Morris challenges using Cronenberg's own explana­tion of the "balance" in his work. Morris' admiration for Cronenburg is clear, but he does fault his admitted heavy reliance on images and themes from the writings of William S. Burroughs.

A detailed filmography accompanies the chronology, extensive bibliography and numerous illustrations characteristic of the "Canadian Biography" series. An optional purchase covering the same ground as Cronenberg on Cronenberg (Knopf Canada, 1992).

Val K. Lent is a librarian with the Board of Education for the City of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario

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1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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