David Cronenberg’s expressionist biology

3/2011

Jukka Sihvonen

In Cronenberg on Cronenberg the Canadian film-director explained to Chris Rodley that he did not want Naked Lunch to be about homosexuality or drugs. However, for a film on or about a book by William Burroughs this seems quite restrictive. If you play those two issues down, what is there left in a Burroughs-story? According to Cronenberg’s reply Burroughs is more about addiction, manipulation and control. But even more importantly – and this is at the core of Cronenberg himself in Naked Lunch: “I wanted it to be about writing.” This article discusses Cronenberg as an author: instead of publishing books, however, he writes, produces and directs films. From this perspective, writing as a mode of making art becomes discussed in the context of contemporary adaptation studies. Referring, most of all, to Mark Browning’s book David Cronenberg – Author or Film-maker, the argument develops an idea according to which Cronenberg’s films (and film adaptations in particular) are examples of meticulous research work. Rather than being just simple transpositions or flat adaptations that could be criticized due to their in-fidelity, they are studies thoughtfully focussing on the myriad connecting, yet organic mechanisms between literature and film.