Crash (2004 film)

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Not to be confused with the 1996 David Cronenberg film Crash.
Crash
Crash ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Haggis
Produced by Cathy Schulman
Don Cheadle
Bob Yari
Mark R. Harris
Bobby Moresco
Paul Haggis
Screenplay by Paul Haggis
Bobby Moresco
Story by Paul Haggis
Starring Sandra Bullock
Don Cheadle
Matt Dillon
Jennifer Esposito
Michael Peña
Brendan Fraser
Terrence Howard
Ludacris
Thandie Newton
Ryan Phillippe
Larenz Tate
Music by Mark Isham
Cinematography J. Michael Muro
Edited by Hughes Winborne
Production
company
Distributed by Lionsgate (US)
Pathé (UK)
Release dates
  • September 10, 2004 (2004-09-10) (TIFF)
  • May 6, 2005 (2005-05-06) (United States)
Running time
112 minutes[1]
Country United States
Germany
Language English
Persian
Spanish
Mandarin
Korean
Budget $6.5 million[2]
Box office $98.4 million[2]

Crash is a 2005 ensemble drama film co-written, produced, and directed by Paul Haggis. The film is about racial and social tensions in Los Angeles, California. A self-described "passion piece" for Haggis, Crash was inspired by a real-life incident, in which his Porsche was carjacked outside a video store on Wilshire Boulevard in 1991.[3]

Several characters' stories interweave during two days in Los Angeles: a black detective estranged from his mother; his criminal younger brother and gang associate; the white district attorney and his irritated, pampered wife; a racist white police officer who disgusts his more idealistic younger partner; an African American Hollywood director and his wife who must deal with the officer; a Persian-immigrant father who is wary of others; and a hard-working Hispanic family man, a locksmith. The film differs from many other films about racism in its rather impartial approach to the issue. Rather than separating the characters into victims and offenders, victims of racism are often shown to be prejudiced themselves in different contexts and situations. Also, racist remarks and actions are often shown to stem from ignorance and misconception rather than a malicious personality.

The film stars Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Michael Peña, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Thandie Newton, and Ryan Phillippe. Matt Dillon was particularly praised for his performance and received Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. Additionally, the cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The film received six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Paul Haggis, and won three for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at the 78th Academy Awards. It was also nominated for nine BAFTA awards, and won two, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Thandie Newton.

Plot[edit]

Today
The film begins with commentary by passenger Detective Graham Waters (Don Cheadle) having suffered a car accident with his partner Ria (Jennifer Esposito). He mentions that the denizens of Los Angeles have lost their "sense of touch." Ria and the driver of the other car, Kim Lee, exchange racially charged insults. When Waters exits the car, he arrives at a police investigation crime scene concerning the discovery of "a dead kid."

Yesterday
Farhad (Shaun Toub), a Persian shop owner, and his daughter Dorri (Bahar Soomekh), argue in Persian as Farhad tries to buy a revolver. The gun store owner grows impatient and degrades the two of them by referring to Farhad as "Osama". Farhad replies that he is an American citizen but he is ordered outside. Despite objecting to the gun purchase, Dorri defiantly finishes it. In another part of town, two black men, Anthony (Ludacris) and Peter (Larenz Tate), carjack Rick Cabot (Brendan Fraser), the local district attorney, and his wife Jean (Sandra Bullock) as they are about to enter their Lincoln Navigator. Later, at the Cabot house, Hispanic locksmith Daniel Ruiz (Michael Peña) is changing their locks when Jean notices his tattoos. She loudly complains about having been carjacked and now having to endure a Hispanic man changing their locks, feeling he will give copies of the keys to "his other gang members".

Detectives Waters and Ria arrive at the scene of a shooting between two drivers. The surviving shooter is a white male, identified as an undercover police officer. The dead shooter, a black male, is revealed also to be an undercover police officer. There is a large amount of cash found in the black officer's trunk. This is the third time the white officer has shot and killed a black man. LAPD officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) calls an HMO on behalf of his father and has an argument with a representative named Shaniqua Johnson (Loretta Devine). He then gets into the squad car with his partner Tom Hansen (Ryan Philippe) and sees a car passenger performing fellatio on the driver of a moving vehicle. They pull over the Navigator similar to the one carjacked earlier, despite discrepancies in the descriptions.

They order the couple, television director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton), to exit. Cameron is cooperative, but Christine is argumentative. This annoys Ryan, who manually molests Christine under the pretense of administering a pat-down. Intimidated, Cameron says nothing. The couple is released without a citation. Once home, Christine becomes enraged that Cameron did nothing while she was being violated. Cameron insists that what he did was correct and storms out. Arriving home from work long after dark, Daniel finds his young daughter, Lara (Ashlyn Sanchez), hiding under her bed after hearing a gunshot outside. To comfort her, Daniel gives her an "invisible impenetrable cloak", which makes her feel safe enough to fall asleep in her bed.

In the carjacked SUV, Anthony and Peter, arguing and distracted, hit a Korean man while passing a parked white van. They argue about what to do with him, finally dumping him in front of a hospital and driving away. Due to the blood in the vehicle, they are unable to receive payment for the carjacking. The next day, at the Los Angeles Police Department station, Hansen talks to his superior, Lt. Dixon (Keith David), about switching partners. Dixon, a black man, claims that Hansen's charge of Ryan as a racist could cost both Hansen and Dixon their jobs. Dixon suggests a transfer to a one-man car and mockingly tells Hansen that he should justify it by claiming to have uncontrollable flatulence. Ryan visits Shaniqua and apologizes for the argument. He explains that his father was previously diagnosed with a bladder infection, but he fears it may be prostate cancer. Ryan wants him to see a different doctor, but Shaniqua denies the request. Ryan then proceeds to insult Shaniqua by calling her an affirmative action hire. Shaniqua has him escorted out of her office.

Daniel is seen replacing a lock at Farhad's shop and tries to explain to him that the door frame needs to be replaced. Farhad, whose English is limited, misunderstands and accuses Daniel of cheating him and refuses to pay. The next morning, Farhad discovers the store has been wrecked and defaced with graffiti. His insurance company does not cover the damage, calling it a case of negligence due to the defective door, so he vows revenge on Daniel. Detective Waters visits his mother (Beverly Todd), a hard drug abuser. She asks him to find his missing younger brother. He promises and takes notice that there is almost no food in the apartment as he is leaving. When he tries to present evidence in the shooting between undercover police officers, his superiors tell him not to reveal the cash in the black officer's trunk, saying that their work in crafting a non-racist image for the department will be undone.

Jean comes home and sees dishes in the dishwasher. She accosts her Hispanic maid Maria for not putting them in the cupboards. Ryan comes across a car accident and as he crawls into the overturned vehicle, he finds Christine trapped. Upon recognizing Ryan, Christine becomes hysterical, but gasoline is leaking from the tank and running downhill towards another wreck, which has already caught fire. He calms her down, and with the assistance of his partner and spectators, Ryan pulls Christine out just as her car bursts into flames. Anthony and Peter approach another Navigator which happens to be Cameron's. They only see Cameron driving after they open the door and are shocked to see that the driver is black. Cameron is tired of being pushed around and resists. Anthony tells Peter to shoot Cameron, but Peter does not.

As police officers arrive, Cameron and Anthony both race for the car and jump in. Cameron drives away, with Anthony continuing to point a gun at him. A car chase ensues. Hansen is one of the police officers who has responded and recognizes Cameron's vehicle. Cameron drives into a dead end, puts Anthony's gun into his pocket, and gets out of the car, all the while yelling insults at the officers. Just before he pulls out the gun, Hansen convinces him to stop aggravating the situation and to go home. Hansen vouches for Cameron, fending off the other officers, and promising to give him a "harsh" warning. Later, Cameron tells Anthony that as a black man he is embarrassed for him and drops Anthony off at a bus stop.

Farhad locates Daniel's house and waits in ambush. Just as Daniel's wife Elizabeth runs out the front door, she watches in horror while Farhad shoots at Daniel. Daniel's daughter Lara jumps into his arms, attempting to protect him with the "invisible cloak". It takes the grief-stricken parents and Farhad a moment to realize that Lara is miraculously unharmed. The box of ammunition that Dorri had selected contained blanks. Farhad later tells his daughter that he believes that the little girl was his guardian angel, preventing him from committing a terrible crime. Jean is complaining to someone she knows over the phone that she wakes up angry every day and does not know why. Immediately afterwards, she slips and falls down a flight of stairs. Later, she phones Rick, telling him of her accident. It turns out that she is alright thanks to Maria.

Today
Peter, who is hitchhiking, is picked up by Hansen. Peter sees that Hansen has a small statuette of Saint Christopher like his own. He begins to laugh as he realizes that they have so much in common, but Hansen thinks that he is being laughed at. Hansen pulls over and tells Peter to get out if he wants to be "funny". Peter moves to pull the statuette out of his pocket in explanation, but Hansen believes he is pulling out a gun and shoots and kills Peter in self-defense. Hansen dumps the body in the bush beside a road and then torches his own car. Peter is revealed to be Waters' missing brother. Waters and his mother meet up at the morgue, where Dorri is revealed to be a coroner, and Waters promises to find who is responsible. Mrs. Waters blames her surviving son for his brother's death, claiming he was always too busy to look for Peter.

Anthony returns to the white van owned by the Korean man whom they had run over earlier. Finding the keys still hanging from the door lock, he drives the van away. The Korean man's wife Kim Lee arrives at the previously mentioned hospital looking for her husband, the man who has been run over, named Choi Jin Gui. Conscious and coherent, he tells her to go and immediately cash a check that he has in his wallet. Anthony has driven the white van to a chop shop he frequents, and as they inspect the van, a number of Cambodian immigrants are discovered locked in the back of the van, revealing that Choi was involved in human trafficking. Anthony is offered $500 for each person in the van but refuses out of disgust. Anthony drives to Chinatown and sets the Cambodian people free. As Anthony drives away, he passes a car crash, which turns out to involve Shaniqua. Shaniqua and the other driver get out and begin to exchange racial slurs.

Cast[edit]

Release[edit]

Box office[edit]

Crash opened in wide release on May 6, 2005, and was a box office success in the late spring of 2005. The film had a budget of $6.5 million (plus $1 million in financing).[2] Because of the financial constraints, director Haggis filmed in his own house, borrowed a set from the TV show Monk, used his car in parts of the film, and even used cars from other staff members.[citation needed] The film grossed $53.4 million domestically, making back more than seven times its budget.[2] Despite its success in relation to its cost, Crash was the lowest grossing film at the domestic box office to win Best Picture since The Last Emperor in 1987.[citation needed]

Critical response[edit]

The film received mostly positive reviews. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 170 out of the 227 reviews they tallied were positive, for a score of 75% positive reviews and a certification of "fresh", with an average score of 7.3 out of 10,[4] and the critical consensus "A raw and unsettling morality piece on modern angst and urban disconnect, Crash examines the dangers of bigotry and xenophobia in the lives of interconnected Angelenos", while Metacritic tallied an average score of 69 out of 100 for Crash‍‍ '​‍s critical consensus.[5] Roger Ebert gave the film four-out-of-four stars and described it as "a movie of intense fascination",[6] listing it as the best film of 2005. The film also ranks at #460 in Empire‍ '​s 2008 poll of the "500 Greatest Films of All Time".[7]

From an alternate perspective, the film has been critiqued for "laying bare the racialized fantasy of the American dream and Hollywood narrative aesthetics", and for depicting the Persian shopkeeper as a "deranged, paranoid individual who is only redeemed by what he believes is a mystical act of God".[8] The film has also been criticized for using multicultural and sentimental imagery to cover over material and "historically sedimented inequalities" that continue to affect different racial groups in Los Angeles.[9]

Oscar controversy[edit]

Crash won the Best Picture Oscar at the 78th Academy Awards, controversially beating the critically favored Brokeback Mountain and making it only the second film ever (the other being The Sting) to win the Academy Award for Best Picture without having been nominated for any of the three Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture (Best Drama, Best Comedy/Musical and Best Foreign Film).

The film's use of moral quandary as a storytelling medium was widely reported as ironic, since many saw it as the "safe" choice to Brokeback Mountain. Critic Kenneth Turan suggested that Crash benefited from anti-homosexual discomfort among Academy members,[10][11] while critic Roger Ebert was of a different opinion, arguing that the better film won that year. He went on to question why many critics were not mentioning the other nominees and that they were just mindlessly bashing Crash merely because it won over Brokeback Mountain. Ebert also placed Crash on his best ten list as #1 best film of 2005,[12] and correctly predicted it to win Best Picture.[13]

Film Comment magazine placed Crash first on their list of "Worst Winners of Best Picture Oscars", followed by Slumdog Millionaire at #2, and Chicago at #3.[14]

Accolades[edit]

Crash was nominated for six awards at the 78th Academy Awards and won three, including the win for Best Picture. It was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards, one for Best Supporting Actor (Matt Dillon) and the other for Best Screenplay (Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco).

Other awards include Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the 2005 Screen Actors Guild Awards; Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild of America Awards 2005; Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Newton) at the 59th British Academy Film Awards; Best Writer at the Critics' Choice Awards; Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role (Howard) at the Black Movie Awards; Best First Feature and Best Supporting Male (Dillon) at the Independent Spirit Awards; Best Cast and Best Writer at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards; and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (Howard) and Outstanding Motion Picture at the NAACP Image Awards.

Crash was one of the 400 nominated movies for the American Film Institute's 2007 list AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition).[15]

List of awards and nominations
Award Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result
78th Academy Awards Best Director Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Film Editing Hughes Winborne Won
Best Picture Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman Won
Best Original Song "In the Deep" Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Matt Dillon Nominated
2006 ALMA Awards Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Michael Peña Won
1st Austin Film Critics Association Awards Best Director Paul Haggis Won
Best Film Won
59th BAFTA Film Awards Best Cinematography J. Michael Muro Nominated
Best Director Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Editing Hughes Winborne Nominated
Best Film Nominated
Best Sound Nominated
Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Best Supporting Actor Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Thandie Newton Won
Black Reel Awards 2005 Best Actor Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Ensemble Won
Best Film Won
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Won
Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Thandie Newton Nominated
11th BFCA Critics' Choice Awards Best Cast Won
Best Director Paul Haggis Nominated
Best Film Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Nominated
Best Writer Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Casting Society of America Awards 2005 Best Film Casting – Drama Sarah Finn and Randi Hiller Won
18th Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Won
Best Screenplay Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Nominated
Cinema Audio Society Awards 2005 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures Nominated
12th Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Won
58th Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement Paul Haggis Nominated
Empire Awards Best Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Actress Thandie Newton Won
Best Film Nominated
Scene of the Year Nominated
63rd Golden Globe Awards Best Screenplay Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Matt Dillon Nominated
37th NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Motion Picture Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Terrence Howard Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Chris "Ludacris" Bridges Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Don Cheadle Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Larenz Tate Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Thandie Newton Nominated
17th Producers Guild of America Awards Motion Picture Producer of the Year Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman Nominated
12th Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Cast Won
Best Supporting Actor Don Cheadle Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
6th Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Won
4th Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Cast Won
Best Film Nominated
Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won
Best Supporting Actor Matt Dillon Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Terrence Howard Nominated
58th Writers Guild of America Awards Best Screenplay – Original Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco Won

Music[edit]

Score[edit]

All songs were written and composed by Mark Isham, except where noted. The original score was released through labels Gut and Colosseum in 2005. The iTunes release is the complete score released through Yari Music Group, and has the cues isolated and in film order (unlike the commercial score CD which is edited, incomplete, in a different order, and in suite form).[16]

No. Title Note Length
1. "Crash"     3:21
2. "Go Forth My Son"     0:57
3. "Hands in Plain Sight"     3:48
4. "...Safe Now"     1:03
5. "No Such Things as Monsters"     3:59
6. "Find My Baby"     4:23
7. "Negligence"     2:56
8. "Flames"     7:59
9. "Siren"     4:41
10. "A Really Good Cloak"     3:28
11. "A Harsh Warning"     2:51
12. "Saint Christopher"     1:55
13. "Sense of Touch"     6:44
14. "In the Deep"   Co-written by Bird York and Michael Becker; performed by Bird York 5:55
15. "Maybe Tomorrow"   Performed by Stereophonics 4:34

iTunes version (Complete score)[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Main Title"   5:14
2. ""We've Got Guns""   1:00
3. "Black Navigator / The Grope"   5:05
4. "A Warning"   1:18
5. "Magic Cloak"   4:00
6. "Back to the Toilet"   1:34
7. ""Your Father Sounds Like a Good Man""   4:22
8. "Negligencia"   1:39
9. "Cameron – Receipt"   2:23
10. "The Rescue"   5:57
11. "News Conference"   2:35
12. "Car Jack II"   1:46
13. ""I Didn't Ask for Your Help""   2:51
14. ""You Embarrass Me""   1:24
15. "The Shooting"   3:29
16. "Jean's Fall"   1:55
17. "Illegals / Morgue"   6:43

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack's title is Crash: Music from and Inspired by the Film.

No. Title Artist Length
1. "If I..."   KansasCali 4:18
2. "Plastic Jesus"   Billy Idol 4:49
3. "Are You Beautiful"   Chris Pierce 2:52
4. "Free"   Civilization 3:43
5. "Hey God"   Randy Coleman 4:04
6. "Take the Pain Away"   Al Berry 4:19
7. "Problems"   Move.meant 3:49
8. "Arrival"   Pale 3/Beth Hirsch 5:08
9. "Acedia (The Noonday Demon)"   Quinn 3:00
10. "In the Deep"   Bird York 3:48
11. "Afraid"   Quincy 5:08
12. "Maybe Tomorrow"   Stereophonics 4:37

Note: The country song playing during the carjacking scene is "Whiskey Town" by Moot Davis.

Home media[edit]

Crash was released on DVD on September 6, 2005, in widescreen and fullscreen one-disc versions, with a number of bonus features, including a music video by KansasCali (now known as The Rocturnals) for the song "If I..." from the soundtrack. The director's cut of the film was released in a two-disc special edition DVD on April 4, 2006, with more bonus content than the one-disc set. The director's cut is three minutes longer than the theatrical cut. The scene where Daniel is talking with his daughter under her bed is extended and a new scene is added with officer Hansen in the police station locker room.[citation needed]

The film also was released in a limited edition VHS version. It was the last Academy Award for Best Picture-winning film to be released in VHS format.[citation needed] It was also the first Best Picture winner to be released on Blu-ray Disc in the US, on June 27, 2006.[17]

Television series[edit]

A 13-episode series premiered on the Starz network on October 17, 2008. The series features Dennis Hopper as a record producer in Los Angeles, California, and how his life is connected to other characters in the city, including a police officer (Ross McCall) and his partner, actress-turned-police officer, Arlene Tur. The cast consists of a Brentwood mother (Clare Carey), her real-estate developer husband (D. B. Sweeney), a former gang member-turned-EMT (Brian Tee), a street-smart driver (Jocko Sims), an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant (Luis Chavez), and a detective (Nick Tarabay).[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "CRASH (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2005-03-04. Retrieved 2013-05-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Crash (2005)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved October 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ Crash DVD Commentary Track. 2005.
  4. ^ "Crash". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Crash". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 5, 2005). "Crash". Chicago Sun-Times (RogerEbert.com). Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Empire Features". EmpireOnline.com. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Crash and the City". DarkMatter101.org. May 7, 2007. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Film Criticism Current Issue". FilmCriticism.Allegheny.edu. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  10. ^ Turan, Kenneth (March 5, 2006). "Breaking no ground: Why 'Crash' won, why 'Brokeback' lost and how the Academy chose to play it safe". The Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ "Maybe Crash's upset at the Oscars shouldn't have been such a surprise?". The Los Angeles Times. April 16, 2009. 
  12. ^ "The fury of the 'Crash'-lash". Chicago Sun-Times (RogerEbert.com). Retrieved October 12, 2012. 
  13. ^ Poland, David (February 28, 2005). "On Ebert & Crash". MovieCityNews.com. Retrieved October 12, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Extended Trivial Top 20®". March–April 2012. Retrieved October 12, 2012. 
  15. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
  16. ^ "iTunes - Crash by Mark Isham". 
  17. ^ "Historical Blu-ray Release Dates". Bluray.HighDefDigest.com. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  18. ^ "Crash: A Starz Original Series". Starz.com. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 

External links[edit]