I used to have this documentary on tape but it vanished years ago so it’s good to find it again on YouTube. Long Live the New Flesh: The Films of David Cronenberg was directed by Laurens C. Postma and broadcast on British television in 1987 as a tie-in with the UK release of Cronenberg’s The Fly. The writer was Chris Rodley who subsequently directed some equally good documentaries of his own including the South Bank Show feature about the making of Naked Lunch (now present as an extra on the Naked Lunch DVD), A Very British Psycho about Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (clips of which can be found in this film), and Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance.
Postma’s film captures Cronenberg when he was starting to gain visibility outside the science fiction and horror genres he’d mostly been working in up to this point. Among the interviewees are Martin Scorsese, an early champion, and Stephen King, whose The Dead Zone Cronenberg adapted in 1983. In the critical corner there’s the late film critic Robin Wood who the producers possibly chose on account of his being the voice of dissent in Piers Handling’s 1983 study of Cronenberg’s films The Shape of Rage. Wood isn’t as tiresomely ideological here as he is in Handling’s book (where you can play a drinking game if you count the times he uses the phrase “bourgeois patriarchal capitalism”) but he still seemed to find something reactionary and “unprogressive” (in a political sense) about Cronenberg’s work. Elsewhere there are clips of the films from Shivers on, and I’d forgotten about the comparisons Rodley and Postma make between Cronenberg’s work and Michael Powell’s still astonishing Peeping Tom.
Long Live the New Flesh is 67 minutes long and unfortunately chopped into chunks on the YouTube copy. Watch it here: