From Academic Kids

The title of this article is incorrect because of technical limitations. The correct title is eXistenZ.

Template:Infobox Movie eXistenZ is a 1999 film by Canadian director David Cronenberg.



The story is based on the confusion between reality and virtual reality as the characters move in and out of a role-playing computer game called eXistenZ, the aim of which is unknown. The players are linked to the virtual world of the game by a console that resembles a living lump of animal tissue which is connected to the player's nervous system through a 'bio-port' drilled in the player's lower back; however, near the end of the film the gamers seem to be connected to the virtual world by electronic devices connected to their heads and wrists.

The virtual world of the game features many aspects of traditional video games, particularly graphical adventure games of the 1980s and early 1990s. Some of these are explicit, such as the repetitive "loops" of actions that minor characters perform, or the need to provide certain trigger phrases to make progress possible. There are many other references that are more subtle, for example the sparsely populated nature of the game world and the physical proximity of certain locations for no sensible reason (e.g., a Chinese restaurant next to a fish processing factory in thick forest). Another trait repeatedly used is the tendency of characters within the game to perform certain actions to quickly establish their personality which, presented in a more real world, make no sense. A striking example is near the end of the game where a soldier involved in a gun battle approaches the two main characters, firing his gun repeatedly in random directions, then stopping to have a conversation to impart vital information to the players little concerned about the gun battle.

There is a tension throughout the film between what appears to be rival game companies that want to gain the services of a famous game designer, or kill the game designer if they cannot gain their cooperation.

The plot involves existentialist themes, similar to The Matrix. However, since they were released in the same year, The Matrix received far more attention.

Philosophical issues

The film calls into question the nature of reality and how to discern between reality and illusion.

It also raises ethical issues surrounding the distortion of reality and how it might equate to psychosis for those who become psychologically absorbed into their virtual roles as characters within a game.

The film portrays the emotional reasons for the popularity of games, and explores the theoretical issues of self-reflexivity and absorption of a game player for the sake of entertainment.

Other films that depict similar existential problems that emerge from virtual reality are The Matrix, Total Recall, Vanilla Sky, and The Thirteenth Floor.


In one scene, Pikul and Geller eat fast food take-out from a restaraunt called "Perky Pat's." This is a reference to "The Days of Perky Pat," a 1963 short story by science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick, one of Cronenberg's favorite authors and a pioneer in the tradition of reality-bending fiction that eXistenZ follows.



1999 Berlin Film Festival

1999 Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival

2000 Genie Awards

2000 Golden Reel Awards

2000 Saturn Awards

  • Nominated, Best Science Fiction Film

External links

Movies by David Cronenberg
Transfer | From the Drain | Stereo | Crimes of the Future | Shivers | Rabid | Fast Company | The Brood | Scanners | The Dead Zone | Videodrome | The Fly | Dead Ringers | Naked Lunch | M. Butterfly | Crash | eXistenZ | Spider

fr:EXistenZ it:EXistenZ


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