David Cronenberg continues to give us great, in-depth info on Cosmopolis and mentions the awesome special feature included on the Bluray/DVD (available NOW! Check our sidebar for links.)
IGN: Many people left Cosmopolis with questions, how do you feel that features like “Citizens of Cosmopolis” are going to illuminate things, or further the conversation?
David Cronenberg: I think the “making of” is actually longer than the movie, so it should do something along those lines. Obviously anyone who bought the DVD is interested enough in the movie to pursue it. I think one of the reasons that I like doing a really good “making of” is that we try very hard when we do that to not just make it a sort of fluff piece where everybody says, “it was great working with everybody,” but to really show what the process of making the movie was. As a result, for example, it’s great for film students and film enthusiasts because it’s as close as some people get to really being on a film set. And in this case it’s an unusual film set, obviously, because of the limo and so on. So we really took a lot of care to make sure that it was accurate, honest, straightforward and illuminating.
IGN: One of the things that the film is dealing with, thematically, is what the marketing materials refer to as “contemporary obsessions.” In other words: money, power and technology. In my mind our obsessions are the same as they’ve ever been, they just kind of have a different coat of paint. We’ve been obsessed with money, power and technology through the millennium, starting with fire, it’s just that it looks different, now. I’m wondering what your perception is, though. Do you think a technological obsession is specifically a contemporary concern? Or are these just human obsessions?
Cronenberg: I think that’s accurate, yeah. I mean it’s well known I think, if you’re an artist, that you have to be very particular in order to be universal. You have to be very specific, and Don Delillo chose the world of finance and this particular character and his sort of bubble/hermetically sealed existence in that world to really talk about the human condition in general. I think that’s the way it works. So, although you could see the movie and the book as being about finance on Wall Street, I think that’s just a jumping off spot to talk about more universal aspects of what it is to be a human being.
IGN: One of the things that feels universal in the movie is the idea of razing, or destroying things. There’s kind of a revolution going on as Robert Pattinson’s character, Eric Packer, is razing (intentionally or not) his company, and in effect his life – his marriage, his relationships and so on. For you, is that about doing what’s necessary for change? Kind of like burning the earth.
Cronenberg: Well it’s kind of a cliché that capitalism is creative destruction, but there’s some truth to that. I mean capitalism doesn’t exist outside of human society. There’s no natural equivalent to capitalism, really. Although people like to think of it as survival of the fittest, or this or that, in fact it’s a uniquely human invention. It’s kind of strange isn’t it? Because we invented money, but we can’t control it. You know you’d think that the world could also say: “Look, we’ve invented this, and things are going wrong, and we’re all suffering, so let’s just fix it, because we can.” It’s not the same thing as a natural disaster like a tsunami or an earthquake where we can’t control it. But it seems to take on a life of its own so that a financial disaster is like a tsunami. It’s really intriguing, and I think that the movie discusses that on a metaphorical level.
IGN: This particular character, Eric Packer, is forced into a confrontation with this other side to himself in the Paul Giamatti character, Benno Levin. They’re like two sides of a coin and Packer’s confrontation with Benno amounts to the final destruction of his ego and the life he had created for himself, and buried himself in. It feels like in order for him to have that confrontation that there has to be a level of violence between them. I’m wondering if that’s part of your overall interest in violence, the idea that the violent destruction of the ego is in some ways necessary for each of us as individuals.
Cronenberg: It’s so interesting that you say that because in the movie I made before this, A Dangerous Method, the character played by Keira Knightley, Sabina Spielrein, one of her revelations was the destruction of the ego in sexuality and the sexual act, and the fear and the anxiety that that alone can cause. So, the protection of the ego can be quite a desperate undertaking. I think if you look at it, you’ll see that every day in your social life. With Eric, he comes to a point where he wants to disappear, he wants to dissolve. He wants to destroy the ego that he has created. And that means also destroying the life that he’s created for himself. That’s what he’s seeking. People were very shocked when he shoots Torval, his bodyguard in the film, and I think perhaps wondered why he would do such a thing. Torval, though he’s hired to protect him, is not just a bodyguard, he’s also a he represents the life that Eric has created for himself. He represents and embodies that, so the first thing he has to get rid of is Torval, if he’s going to get rid of his life. Because Torval nags him to be careful and protect himself, he’s really protective of the life that Eric has created. So you get this strange paradox where he has to destroy a person that he’s hired to keep himself safe.
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