Long Live Cronenberg’s Videodrome

With the release of Cosmopolis, 2012 had been a good year for Cronenberg fans. Unfortunately, it looks as if being a fan of Cronenberg has just become more frustrating. Universal Pictures today announced that a remake of Cronenberg’s classic Videodrome was being developed. While farfetched remakes are not uncommon in Hollywood, Cronenberg’s particularly difficult and gory sci-fi film is a perplexing choice for a cash grab.

The 1983 Canadian classic is one that may not have been appreciated upon release, but has gone on to influence countless filmmakers and film fans. It is a wonderfully perverse exploration of technology and how it influences us. While dated in some regards, it is even more relevant today, as technology envelopes and colours our everyday life. Taking its cue from Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan, the film predicted many aspects of the Internet and online communication. 

It is classic Cronenberg in just about every way imaginable, and it is certainly not a film for the average filmgoer. The themes are complex, and often presented in grotesque ways. It is also important to mention that many of the themes stem from it being a Canadian film. The threat of American influence to Canadian culture, through television signals; the idea of the border, and how media has no restrictions. These are all distinctly Canadian themes and concerns, and will of course, be dropped with an American remake. 

And while dropping its Canadian frame of reference is a shame, a remake of Cronenberg’s film is not necessarily a terrible idea. Many of the ideas are ones that are important today. They could be re-examined, updated to include the Internet and how it has forever changed the way we live. It is unfortunate, therefore, that the remake is being written by Ehren Kruger, the man behind the latest Transformers film.

The Deadline article that revealed the development of this remake included a few even more disheartening details. The film is said to include the addition of nano-technology, something that seems to be ignoring the themes of the original. And worst of all, it is being blown up to become an action spectacle. 

A true cinematic talent could take Cronenberg’s original film and reexamine the disturbing accuracies of what that film predicted. That could make for a worthwhile reinterpretation, but we all know that is not the intention of this remake. Adam Berg, a commercial director, will direct. And while he is an untested cinema director, it would seem Universal wants him for style rather than substance.

Another interesting and thoughtful cinematic take on significant trends in our society could be the goal of this remake, unfortunately it seems that what Universal has in mind is more action and less reflection.

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