ⓘ Stereo (1969 film)

Stereo (1969 film)

ⓘ Stereo (1969 film)

Stereo is a 1969 Canadian film directed, written, produced, shot, and edited by David Cronenberg in his feature film debut. It stars Ronald Mlodzik, who also appears in Cronenbergs Crimes of the Future, Shivers and Rabid. It was Cronenbergs first feature-length effort, following his two short films, Transfer and From the Drain. It is a brief feature film, with a running time of a little over one hour.

The film has a 60% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


1. Summary

The film purports to be part of a "mosaic" of educational resources by the Canadian Academy of Erotic Enquiry. It documents an experiment by the unseen Dr. Luther Stringfellow. A young man Ronald Mlodzik in a black cloak is seen arriving at the Academy, where he joins a group of young volunteers who are being endowed with telepathic abilities which they are encouraged to develop through sexual exploration. It is hoped that telepathic groups, bonded in polymorphous sexual relationships, will form a socially stabilising replacement for the "obsolescent family unit". One girl develops a secondary personality in order to cope with her new state of consciousness, which gradually ousts her original personality. As the volunteers abilities develop, the experimenters find themselves increasingly unable to control the progress of the experiment. They decide to separate the telepaths, which results in two suicides. The final sequence shows the young woman who developed an extra personality wearing the black cloak.


2. Production

The film was shot in black and white, and silent because the Bolex camera Cronenberg was using made too much noise. A commentary, purportedly by various followers of Stringfellows theories, and parodying scientific and metaphysical jargon, was added later. The film was shot at Scarborough College University of Toronto.


3. Analysis

The film embodies several themes now common within Cronenbergs body of work. The exploration voluntary or otherwise of new states of consciousness via sexual experimentation is a major theme in Shivers, Videodrome, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, M. Butterfly and Crash. The idea of telepathy induced by an unknown scientist recurs in Scanners, as does the image of one tormented telepath who uses an electric drill to pierce his own forehead in what Stereo s commentary refers to as "an act of considerable symbolic significance".


4. Home video

The film has been included as a special feature in multiple releases of other Cronenberg films, including in standard definition on Blue Undergrounds Blu-ray release of Fast Company, in high definition on Criterion release of Scanners and also in high definition on a bonus disc in Arrow Videos UK Blu-ray release of Videodrome, The bonus disc from Videodrome was later released on its own as David Cronenbergs Early Works.