The press screening for David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises started almost an hour late, so I saw the first 71 minutes but had to skip the last 25 due to a prior commitment. Apparently I missed “the scene everybody is talking about”, in which Viggo Mortensen fights a man to the death — in the nude.
Ah well, maybe one day I’ll get around to seeing the rest of this movie, though I’m not particularly keen on revisiting the hour-plus that I have already seen — mainly because I found it pretty dull. In the meantime, I am intrigued by how Cronenberg defends the explicit violence in this interview with Reuters:
There is a moment in the Russian mob movie “Eastern Promises” when the level of violence rises so high that the audience lets out a collective gasp, followed by a ripple of nervous laughter.
But director David Cronenberg and his star Viggo Mortensen insist the vicious climax to a murderous bathhouse battle between mob killers is an essential part of the movie, bringing home the reality and the finality of death.
“Murder is a serious thing. I am taking it very seriously,” Cronenberg told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the Toronto International Film Festival, where “Eastern Promises” had its premiere on Saturday night.
“I’m an atheist,” Cronenberg said. “To me an act of murder is the act of total destruction, it’s absolute. There’s no comeback, there’s no going to heaven, that’s it. And it is very easy for that to be veiled or covered up, in a movie especially.
“To me it makes perfect legitimate, artistic and, if you push me, moral sense as well to do that this way.”
Make of all that what you will.