Synopsis by Gönül Dönmez-Colin
Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg, who has long been fascinated by the ways new technology shapes and manipulates the human beings who believe they are its masters, is in familiar territory with eXistenZ, a futuristic thriller which combines elements of science fiction, horror and action-adventure. What is eXistenZ? According to the glossary Cronenberg put together for this film, it is a new organic game system that, when downloaded into humans, accesses their central nervous system, transporting them on a wild ride in and out of reality. What's more, it changes every time it is played, by adapting to the individual user -- you have to play the game to find out why you are playing the game. More than one person can plug into the same game and set out on a series of bizarre and surrealistic adventures together. The narrative takes place sometime in the near future, when game designers are worshipped as superstars and players can organically enter inside the games. Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the goddess among computer game designers whose latest invention, 'eXistenZ,' taps deeply into its users' fears and desires by blurring the boundaries between reality and escapism, is subject to an assassination attempt and forced to flee. Her sole ally is Ted Pikul (Jude Law), a novice security guard sworn to protect her. Persuading Ted to play the game, Allegra draws them both into a phantasmagoric world where existence ends and eXistenZ begins. Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is supposedly something of a computer nerd in real life, is hip and sexily alluring as Allegra Geller. When she and Pikul make love and are transported to the bizarre setting of a trout farm which has been converted to an assembly line production plant for games, they delve deeper into the dangerously intriguing game. Soon the forces of Anti-eXistenZialism will close in on Pikul and Allegra. eXistenZ marks the first time since Videodrome that Cronenberg has written a completely original screenplay. eXistenZ was inspired by the tribulations of the fugitive writer Salman Rushdie, author of the Satanic Verses. After interviewing the author for a magazine article in 1995, Cronenberg was struck with the idea of an artist who suddenly finds himself on a hit list for religious or philosophical reasons and is forced to go into hiding. The idea of a game came later on, for which he created a new vocabulary. According to Cronenberg, eXistenZ thematically connects to Crash, Videodrome, Naked Lunch and even M. Butterfly in terms of exploring the extent to which we create our own levels of reality and the idea of a creative act being dangerous to the creator. This is the second film on which Alliance Atlantis has been associated with Cronenberg, after Crash, which won the Special Jury Prize at the 1996 International Cannes Film Festival. On the occasion of the presentation of eXistenZ, Cronenberg received a Silver Bear for his outstanding artistic achievements at the 49th International Berlin Film Festival in 1999.
assassination, designer, fugitive, game, guard, technology, virtual-reality
High Production Values, Sleeper