Archive for November 6, 2008

Freaking Cronenberg

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on November 6, 2008 by dcairns

The scene which terrified David Cronenberg.

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The sailor is drunk. “You haven’t got an arm / and you haven’t got a leg,” he sings.

A skull, left behind by someone who no longer required it, starts to rise into the air. Unbenownst to the sailor, there is a snake, inserting its little noggin into the discarded cranium, causing it to elevate in this eerie fashion.

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His vision and mind blurred by drink, the sailor flees in terror and falls to his death.

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Cronenberg notes that Frank Launder’s THE BLUE LAGOON was not a film anybody thought children should be protected from, but it scared every last heebie-jeebie from his childish frame. Thus we see the difficulty, bordering on futility, of the censor’s job. I do think a ratings system, however fatuous, is probably a useful thing to help parents avoid taking their kids to see DEBBIE DOES DALEKS or whatever by mistake, although such advisory labels as the X Certificate are by their nature blunt instruments, of limited application.

As far as protecting kids from disturbing imagery — Cronenberg doesn’t seem to regret seeing THE BLUE LAGOON. I don’t think any of us regret seeing the stuff that freaked us out as kids. It’s part of our development, and it remains in our memories, not as a scar, but as, I don’t know, a merit badge or something. “I saw that and it terrified me,” we think, warmly.

Or is that just me?

Incidentally, my suspicion is that Launder’s LAGOON, a passable but not very distinguished part of his oeuvre, is unavailable on DVD due to censorious panic over the little girl running around without a shirt. I hope I’m wrong — I hope nobody’s terrified of that image, which seems to me harmless.

The film fades out shortly after this sequence, and rejoins the kids several years later, when they have transformed into Donald Houston and Jean Simmons, and we learn that Jean has only just stopped running around topless the previous week. Why couldn’t we have faded up a week earlier?

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