Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To open articles without exiting the current webpage…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To open articles without exiting your current search or webpage, press Ctrl + Left Mouse Button while hovering over the desired link. It will open in a new Tab in your internet browser.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Sklar, J. Sabbadini, A. (2008). David Cronenberg's Spider: Between Confusion and Fragmentation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 89(2):427-432.

(2008). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 89(2):427-432


David Cronenberg's Spider: Between Confusion and Fragmentation

Jonathan Sklar and Andrea Sabbadini

David Cronenberg, the Canadian director of Spider (2002), is one of the main exponents of the science-fictional ‘body horror’ genre of films. ‘Cronenberg's subject’, David Thomson writes, ‘is the intensity of human frailty and decay: in short, the body and its many accelerated mutations, whether out of disease, anger, dread, or hope’ (2002, pp. 189-90). Such films, which explore people's fears of bodily transformations and infections, have a special appeal to adolescents because they reflect their anxieties about the anatomical and physiological changes they experience in the course of growing up (Campbell, 2003).

Spider, however, is different from all other Cronenberg's movies. In fact, it is not (or, at least, not literally) a ‘horror’ movie at all. Spider is not about the uncanny corruptions of living bodies (like Shivers, 1975) or about a human being becoming an animal (like the remake of The Fly, 1986), but about the pathology of the mind and, in particular, its potential for extreme confusion and fragmentation.

As a result of the creative combination of Cronenberg's directorial skills, Patrick McGrath's screenplay from his own novel (McGrath, 1990), Peter Suschitzky's understated photography of working-class London cityscapes, and Ralph Fiennes's sensitive performance in the title role, Spider stands out as a most darkly beautiful, moving, as well as disturbing, filmic representation of severe psychopathology.

The protagonist, Dennis Cleg, known as ‘Spider’, is a catatonic schizophrenic man just released from a mental institution where he has been incarcerated for many years as a matricide.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.