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4.0 4
Director: David Cronenberg

Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe


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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Director David Cronenberg's wonderfully warped sci-fi effort, Existenz, follows a legendary virtual reality game designer, Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and Ted Pikal (Jude Law), a lowly marketing trainee at Allegra's company, as they hide out after an attempt on Allegra's life. Most of the film takes place inside Allegra's latest game, a mind-blowing, role-playing wild ride of a game called "eXistenZ," which plugs directly into the spinal cord to create a strange, dreamlike alternate reality. Leigh is well cast as the introverted virtual reality guru with a cult following, and Law even better as the nervous first-time gamer. But Cronenberg's unique vision is the star of Existenz, a bizarre world of bone, flesh, and viscera where "eXistenZ" is played using fleshy game "pods" with connections like umbilical cords, and the would-be assassin uses a gun made of slimy bones with human teeth for bullets. Existenz also provides some nice plot twists as the characters -- and the audience -- begin to lose their ability to distinguish between what's really happening and what's just a game.
All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
With a plot that folds in on itself and then proceeds to twist and turn until arriving at a very different place than it began, this science-fiction horror film from writer/director David Cronenberg is every bit as stimulating, absorbing, intelligent, and difficult to watch as his best genre films, The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), and Naked Lunch (1991). All of Cronenberg's trademarks are here: an overarching sense of doom, fiendishly gleeful gross-out gore, a healthy sense of humor about the proceedings, and serious questions about the nature of existence (hence the title). Leads Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh are required to do a lot more reacting than acting, but such is the nature of a Cronenberg phantasm, in which the unexpected is king. Like the vastly underrated Gattaca (1997), another thoughtful science fiction film that (like the best of the genre) is really about modern reality, eXistenZ is an aesthetically challenging work of art that is ripe for repeat viewing.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Miramax Echo Bridge

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jennifer Jason Leigh Allegra Geller
Jude Law Ted Pikul
Willem Dafoe Gas
Ian Holm Kiri Vinokur
Don McKellar Yevgeny Nourish
Callum Keith Rennie Hugo Carlaw
Sarah Polley Merle
Christopher Eccleston Levi

Technical Credits
David Cronenberg Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Bradley Adams Co-producer
Deirdre Bowen Casting
Damon Bryant Co-producer
Denise Cronenberg Costumes/Costume Designer
Tamara Deverell Art Director
Attila Ferenczfy-Kovacs Art Director
Elinor Rose Galbraith Art Director
Walter Gasparovic Asst. Director
Andras Hamori Producer
James Isaac Special Effects Supervisor
Robert Lantos Producer
Michael MacDonald Co-producer
Ronald Sanders Editor
Howard Shore Score Composer
Ryan Shore Sound/Sound Designer
Carol Spier Production Designer
Peter Suschitzky Cinematographer
Sandra Tucker Associate Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- eXistenZ
1. Product Testing [7:52]
2. Marked for Death [7:10]
3. Never Played [6:22]
4. Getting Ported [5:44]
5. Bad Install [5:46]
6. Ski Club Operation [5:32]
7. Excited Bio-port [4:37]
8. Playing the Game [7:29]
9. Trained by the Best [5:35]
10. Game on Pause [4:32]
11. The Special [8:28]
12. Realists [6:40]
13. Infected [6:38]
14. Defecting [5:00]
15. TransCendenZ [9:31]


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eXistenZ 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Disgusting, fascinating, elusive, strange, eerie. Like Matrix meets Underworld meets Brainstorm.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago