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No smooth ride for explicit 'Crash'

November 22, 1996
Web posted at:11:30 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Cynthia Tornquist

NEW YORK (CNN) -- While director David Cronenberg posed aboard a huge crane outside the London Film Festival earlier this month, his new movie "Crash" was being broadsided by British critics and public officials.

So violent and sexually perverse is the film that it's been banned in England before its scheduled January release date. movie icon (2.8M/1:16 sec. QuickTime movie)

"It's a violent film from the first frame to the last," said film critic Alexander Walker. "It's (also) one of the most pornographic that I've seen. The central idea of the film is that people get their sexual kicks out of staging automobile crashes."


Taking the driver's sear in the pile-up of controversy, Cronenberg defended the film recently to a London audience.

"It is not violent. There are no guns, no knives, nobody is beaten to death, nobody is shot," he said. "No matter how rough and strange, (the sex) is all completely consensual by 35-year-olds and not 16-year-olds."

Perhaps, but the British government's Board of Classification has yet to consent to general release of the film.


"I hope they will take into account that we believe there is too much violence and unsuitable material on video today," said Tom Sackville, a member of the British Parliament.

But the problem isn't only a British one.

In Italy, the film that's being marketed as "beyond pleasure, beyond pain and beyond obsession" is also facing controversy. Officials in Naples want to put the brakes on the film.

The planned October 4 U.S. release of the film came to a screeching halt when Fine Line Features chief Ted Turner said the film "bothered" him and yanked it from the schedule.

That's a move that burns one of "Crash's" stars, Holly Hunter.

Holly Hunter

"It's beyond 'Crash' now, and we're into an arena where we're talking about our rights," Hunter said. "I think it's a very chilling arena for Ted Turner to be entering when he's speculating about what could be morally reprehensible for the American public."

Upon re-evaluation, Fine Line officials contend "Crash" will open stateside March 21. But after "Crash's" collision course with Turner, Hunter remains skeptical.

"I'm still not exactly sure if 'Crash' will be seen here," Hunter said.

But if it is, a little controversy over the film might mean a traffic back-up at theaters.


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