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Naked Lunch (1991)


Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director David Cronenberg and actor Peter Weller Rating:7.9/10 (12 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by The Cubist on March 1st, 2005:Find all reviews by The Cubist
Cronenberg has always provided thoughtful, informative tracks and this one is no different. For those not familiar with Burroughs’ life or his body work, both he and Weller go into great detail about how the film is a pastiche of prose and real life incidents. Of interest to fans, the insect motif that is so prevalent in the film was Cronenberg’s idea and not one of Burroughs’ preoccupations, but he felt that it kept true to the spirit of the book. This track is a good listen for the uninitiated, confused by all of the surreal imagery, and for the hardcore fan, with the in-depth discussions of all things Burroughs.
Reviewed by demtation on April 22nd, 2009:Find all reviews by demtation
I was unfamiliar with Burrough's body of work, so this commentary was very helpful to me in understanding the source material. Cronenberg is very soft spoken and and assured about his craft, speaking at length to motivations, creative and pragmatic decisions. Weller is enthusiastic about playing material creatively near to his heart. Both are philosophical and obviously very committed to this project, which makes for a compelling commentary.
Reviewed by Mr Bungle on May 28th, 2015:Find all reviews by Mr Bungle
Superb commentary from two true artists!
Reviewed by iwantmytvm on May 31st, 2020:Find all reviews by iwantmytvm
A very fine dissection of a surreal but excellent film.

Cronenberg and Weller are recorded separately, but Criterion did a nice job of blending their comments to be scene specific. Both provide great insights into the Beat movement, its jazz influences, the symbiosis of writing of writing and drug use in the work of author William S. Burroughs. The film itself is a metaphorical exploration of how Burroughs may have come write the book, Naked Lunch.

Cronenberg used other works by Burroughs in addition to Naked Lunch to create the story for this film. He points out what he added, and that Burroughs generally approved. He speakes to actual relationships between Burroughs and authors Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Paul Bowles and how these inspired him for the film. Burroughs often said that he started writing after a tragic accident that occurred in Mexico City, and he wrote to take his mind off of that episode but could never truly succeed in forgetting it.

The first Gulf War prevented shooting in Morocco, so they built sets in Toronto to stand in as North Africa.

Weller contacted Cronenberg about the project as he had an interest in the work of Burroughs as well. Weller offers anecdotes about his interactions with Burroughs and Cronenberg. He also appreciated that he could act against puppets and practical effects rather then stop motion animation or CGI. Cronenberg, for his part, also praises the use of practical effects over CGI, even while being humble about some of the results.