I watched a movie recently called Crash by director David Cronenberg, the director of one of my favorite movies of all time, eXistenZ. Incidentally, there is another, more recent film, also called Crash, different director though: Paul Haggis. Both movies not only have the same title, they tackle the same subject matter, which is human connection.
Cronenberg’s Crash deals with the subject in a more literal way, the characters actually car crash into each other in order to create intimacy. In Haggis’s Crash we also have a couple of actual car crashes, the movie starts and ends with a car accident that forces different characters to connect with one another. At the very beginning, Graham tells us that “we crash into each other so that we can feel something”. However, the rest of the movie deals with more metaphorical crashes of human connection.
For a crash to happen, metaphorical or otherwise, two people have to bump into each other. If one of them avoids the other, then there is no crash. Take Jean for example, her friends always avoid her when she is in need of human connection. Even when she has a fall and needs immediate medical help, her friends are too busy to help her. Except for Maria. This is a genuine crash because Jean does not expect to have a human connection with Maria. She does not see Maria as an actual human being she could possibly have a connection with, she sees her as an object or a tool. For Jean, it feels “funny” to have a real connection with Maria.
Another example from this movie is when officer Ryan rescues Christine. He is the last person on Earth she wants to have a connection with, and yet, due to the circumstances her life depends on it. She must trust him. A forceful, unexpected, unwanted, connection happens. They crash.
Crashing on purpose
In Cronenberg’s movie, people crash into each other on purpose in order to feel something. In Haggis’s the crashes are all unintentional. But a case is made in the film to suggest that we should consciously seek human connection as a means to avoid these crashes which, not unlike real car accidents, can result in permanent injury or death.
The clearest example of this is when Farhad shoots Daniel and virtually kills his daughter. For a moment, we get a glimpse into the consequences of a lack of conscious human connection. People forget we are all human beings and start seeing each other as mere tools, hindrances, or obstacles to be shot down.
Conclusion Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination quickly segregate humans from human connection and set up the stage for an eventual crash. Crash is, then, a cautionary tale against discrimination, urging us to consciously seek human connection as a means to avoid a tragic crash.