An eclectic and unexpected set of Canadian, British, and Japanese backers helped David Cronenberg bring “Naked Lunch” to the screen, so it is no surprise that the film has similarly eclectic flavours. Nonetheless it stands as a unique and original blend of author William S. Burroughs’ life and his 1959 novel about the exploits of one William Lee, an alter ego of Burroughs’. It also is yet another rebuttal of the claims that the novel was “unfilmable,” as the “Cosmopolis” director showed that it only required a touch of ingenuity and some clever re-arranging skills. Now, as the film has already hit Criterion with a fully loaded Blu-ray, we’ve got a separate look into how they pulled it all off.
“David Cronenberg and The Making of ‘Naked Lunch’ performs just what it says on the tin, as the director and many of his collaborators, including Burroughs, speak on the film, which offers an increasingly paranoid look at one writer’s process and also his fear of slowly growing bugs in New York City. The documentary examines just how Burroughs life seeped its way into Cronenberg’s vision—including events related to those portrayed in the recent Allen Ginsberg drama “Kill Your Darlings”—and how they made the decidedly uncinematic act of writing compelling. “In order to convey the act of writing to someone who hasn’t written, you have to be quite outrageous,” says Cronenberg.
Anyone who’s seen the final result can confirm its success on that front, but now we can take a look at the puppeteers behind the many grotesque creations in the film and appreciate. Watch the full three-part, vintage documentary below. [The Shiek 1976]