Spectres of Mob in David Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises" (2007)

On July 4, our colleague Dr. Gerd Bayer (University of Erlangen) will give a talk on David Cronenberg's film Eastern Promises (2007).

After the talk, students are invited to join us for the 4th of July BBQ organized by our colleagues from the American Studies department.

Unlike many films set in London, David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises (2007) avoids the city’s famous tourist sites and Englishness. Instead, his film stages the British capital through an atmosphere marked by underground criminal activities, broken families, failed dreams, latent as well as actual violence, and social fault-lines based on racial and ethnic identities. In the film’s narrative, Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen, starring alongside Armin Müller-Stahl, are drawn into a subliminal romance that never quite breaks through the surface and thus serves as a ghostly reminder that viewers of Eastern Promises never quite know what to make of its various characters. The outward social conservatism of the Russian community is undermined by some of its members’ investment in human trafficking, murder, and blackmail. This presentation will concentrate on how Cronenberg’s film draws a picture of London that relies on past traumas, all-too-present forms of terrifying violence, and a general feeling of neo-noir film aesthetics that raises spectral visions of a city deeply strained and badly bruised. It sees Eastern Promises as a cinematic doppelgänger that reminds its audiences of the city’s complex engagements in global forms of capital flow as well as in the legacies of both colonialism and the cold war.