Crash (2004 film)

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Crash ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Haggis
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Paul Haggis
  • Bobby Moresco
Story byPaul Haggis
Music byMark Isham
CinematographyJ. Michael Muro
Edited byHughes Winborne
  • Bob Yari Productions
  • DEJ Productions
  • Blackfriars Bridge
  • Harris Company
  • ApolloProScreen Productions
  • Bull's Eye Entertainment
Distributed byLions Gate Films (United States)
Universum Film (Germany)[1]
Release date
  • September 10, 2004 (2004-09-10) (TIFF)
  • May 6, 2005 (2005-05-06) (United States)
Running time
112 minutes[2]
CountriesUnited States
Budget$6.5 million[1]
Box office$101.2 million[1]

Crash is a 2004 crime drama film produced, directed, and co-written by Paul Haggis. A self-described "passion piece" for Haggis, the film features racial and social tensions in Los Angeles and was inspired by a real-life incident in which his Porsche was carjacked in 1991 outside a video store on Wilshire Boulevard.[3] The film features an ensemble cast, including Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle (who also produced the film), Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Thandiwe Newton, Michael Peña, and Ryan Phillippe.

Crash first premiered at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2004 before it was released in theaters on May 6, 2005 by Lions Gate Films. The film received positive reviews from critics, who praised the directing, screenplay, performances (particularly from Dillon), but earned polarized responses for what some saw as an oversimplified and unsubtle depiction and portrayal of race relations. The film was profitable at the box office, earning $98.4 million worldwide against its $6.5 million budget.

The film earned several accolades and nominations. Dillon was particularly praised for his performance and received nominations for Best Supporting Actor from the Academy Awards, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award. 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, and controversially 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 Newton.


Detective Graham Waters and his partner Ria are involved in a minor collision with a car being driven by Kim Lee. A subsequent exchange of racially charged insults occurs. Waters arrives at a crime scene where the body of a "dead kid" has been discovered. Earlier the previous day, Farhad, a Persian shop owner, and his daughter Dorri are in a gun shop arguing over what cartridges they should buy. The gun store owner grows impatient and degrades the two of them by referring to Farhad as "Osama". Farhad is forced to leave the store and Dorri becomes responsible for the choice.

Later that night, two black men, Anthony and Peter, carjack District Attorney Rick Cabot and his wife Jean. At the couple's house, the Hispanic locksmith Daniel Ruiz overhears Jean arguing with Rick, demanding that the locks be changed again as she suspects that Daniel is a gangster due to his tattoos and outfit. Daniel places the keys of the new locks on the kitchen counter and leaves.

Sergeant John Ryan and his partner Officer Tom Hansen pull over an SUV being driven by director Cameron Thayer and his wife Christine, who was performing fellatio on him. After an intoxicated Christine remonstrates with Ryan, he subjects the couple to a body search. Ryan molests Christine in front of her husband and Hansen, who watches in disgust. Ryan releases them with a warning after Cameron apologizes.

In the carjacked SUV, Anthony and Peter hit a Korean man while passing a parked van, dump him in front of a hospital, and drive away. Daniel's next call is to replace a lock at Farhad's shop, but when Daniel warns Farhad that the real problem is the door, Farhad ignores him. The next day, Farhad finds that his store has been wrecked and defaced with graffiti. Waters, while having sex with Ria, gets a phone call from his mother with dementia, which leads to an argument about Ria's ethnicity. Waters later visits his mother, who asks him to find his missing younger brother.

Ryan comes across a car accident and as he crawls into the overturned vehicle, he finds Christine trapped. Although she resists frantically at first, with the help of his partner and spectators, Ryan pulls the terrified Christine out just as her car bursts into flames. Anthony and Peter carjack another Navigator, which happens to be Cameron's. Only after opening the door do they realize that Cameron is black. Police officers arrive on the scene and a chase ends with Cameron and Anthony in Cameron's car on a dead end residential street. Hansen is one of the pursuing officers and, out of guilt for his role in assaulting Cameron's wife, vouches for Cameron to be let off with a warning. Cameron expresses shame toward Anthony for his criminal lifestyle and drops him off near a bus stop.

Farhad locates Daniel's house and waits in ambush. He then confronts Daniel and shoots, but Daniel's daughter jumps into Daniel's arms, attempting to protect her father. Everyone watches in horror as Daniel clutches his daughter, but they soon realize that Farhad's gun was only loaded with blank rounds, leaving Daniel's daughter unharmed, and the family retreats inside. Farhad tells his daughter that he believes the little girl was his guardian angel, preventing him from committing a terrible crime. He gives the gun to his daughter who is then seen going over near the cash register to retrieve the box of gun cartridges that her father had not known were actually blanks.

Hansen pulls over to pick up a hitchhiking Peter, who fled from the carjacking that took place earlier. Throughout the drive, Hansen becomes increasingly suspicious of Peter's intentions. Peter offends Hansen by suddenly beginning to laugh, and when Peter reaches for his pocket, Hansen shoots. In Peter's hand is a statuette similar to the one on Hansen's dash and, horrified, Hansen hides the body in some nearby bushes and burns his car. Waters arrives at the scene with his partner and determines that Peter is his missing brother and the "dead kid", and is disowned by his mother for not finding Peter alive.

Anthony decides to steal the van of the Korean man he accidentally hit and, when he drops it off at a chop shop he frequents, he discovers a number of Cambodian immigrants locked in the back of the van. The chop shop owner offers him $500 per immigrant, but Anthony has other plans. After driving into Chinatown and freeing the Cambodians, he passes by a car crash where, once again, an exchange of racially charged insults occurs.


Main cast[edit]

  • Sandra Bullock as Jean Cabot, Rick's wife
  • Don Cheadle as Det. Graham Waters, an officer investigating recent murders based on racial tensions
  • Matt Dillon as Sgt. John Ryan, a bigoted police officer
  • Jennifer Esposito as Ria, Detective Waters' partner
  • Brendan Fraser as D.A. Rick Cabot, Jean's husband
  • Terrence Howard as Cameron Thayer, a television director and husband to Christine
  • Ludacris as Anthony, a violent carjacker and Peter's partner
  • Thandiwe Newton (credited as Thandie Newton) as Christine Thayer, Cameron's wife
  • Michael Peña as Daniel Ruiz, a Hispanic locksmith
  • Ryan Phillippe as Officer Tom Hansen, a rookie policeman and Ryan's partner
  • Larenz Tate as Peter, a laid-back, good-natured carjacker and Anthony's partner

Supporting cast[edit]


In a 2020 interview with Vulture, Thandie Newton stated that writer and director Paul Haggis didn't want her wearing any special protective underwear for the police sexual assault scene, wanting it to be real for Matt Dillon "to go there."[4]


Box office[edit]

Crash had a 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).[1] 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.[1] 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]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 74% based on 241 reviews, with an average score of 7.23/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "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."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 69 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[6] According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[7]

Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and described it as "a movie of intense fascination",[8] 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".[9]

Some later reviews of Crash have been less favorable. Cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates criticized the film as shallow and "unthinking," naming Crash "the worst film of the decade."[10] The film has been critiqued for depicting the Persian shopkeeper as a "deranged, paranoid individual who is only redeemed by what he believes is a mystical act of God."[11] The film has also been criticized for using multicultural and sentimentalist imagery to cover over material and "historically sedimented inequalities" that continue to affect different racial groups in Los Angeles.[12]

In 2010, the Independent Film & Television Alliance selected Crash as one of the 30 Most Significant Independent Films of the last 30 years.[13]

The film can be used as an example of the so-called 'network narrative', a non-linear way of storytelling that highlights the contingency of life and values the structure of society over the individual. The disconnect and conflicts portrayed in the film are highlighted by its unusual structure and present the possibility of the portrayed racism and bigotry being a result of structural behaviour that partially neglects the individual perspective and creates an abstract scale.

Top ten lists[edit]

Crash was listed on many critics' top ten lists.[14]

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" alternative to Brokeback Mountain, the plot of which focused on LGBT issues. Critic Kenneth Turan suggested that Crash benefited from anti-gay discomfort among Academy members,[17][18] while critic Roger Ebert was of a different opinion, arguing that the better film won that year.

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.[19] Similarly, a 2014 survey of film critics by The Atlantic identified the film's victory as among the most glaring mistakes made by the Academy Awards.[20]

In 2015, The Hollywood Reporter polled hundreds of Academy members, asking them to re-vote on past controversial decisions. For the 2006 Best Picture winner, Brokeback Mountain beat Crash and the other nominees.[21][22]

In a 2015 interview, Paul Haggis commented: "Was [Crash] the best film of the year? I don't think so. There were great films that year. Good Night, and Good Luck – amazing film. Capote – terrific film. Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, great film. And Spielberg's Munich. I mean please, what a year. Crash, for some reason, affected people, it touched people. And you can't judge these films like that. I'm very glad to have those Oscars. They're lovely things. But you shouldn't ask me what the best film of the year was because I wouldn't be voting for Crash, only because I saw the artistry that was in the other films. Now however, for some reason that's the film that touched people the most that year. So I guess that's what they voted for, something that really touched them. And I'm very proud of the fact that Crash does touch you. People still come up to me more than any of my films and say: 'That film just changed my life.' I've heard that dozens and dozens and dozens of times. So it did its job there. I mean, I knew it was the social experiment that I wanted, so I think it's a really good social experiment. Is it a great film? I don't know".[23]


Crash was nominated for six awards at the 78th Academy Awards and won three - Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. 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.



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).[24]

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"Performed by Bird York; Co-written by Kathleen York and Michael Becker5:55
15."Maybe Tomorrow"Performed by Stereophonics; written by Kelly Jones4:34

iTunes version (complete score)[edit]

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
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


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

1."If I..."KansasCali4:18
2."Plastic Jesus"Billy Idol4:49
3."Are You Beautiful"Chris Pierce2:52
5."Hey God"Randy Coleman4:04
6."Take the Pain Away"Al Berry4:19
8."Arrival"Pale 3/Beth Hirsch5:08
9."Acedia (The Noonday Demon)"Quinn3:00
10."In the Deep"Bird York3:48
12."Maybe Tomorrow"Stereophonics4:37

Note: The country song playing during the carjacking scene is "Whiskey Town" by Moot Davis. Also, the song playing on the car radio when the hitchhiker is picked up is "Swinging Doors" by Merle Haggard.

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 film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture 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.[25]

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).[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Crash (2005)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Archived from the original on August 23, 2010. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  2. ^ "CRASH (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2005-03-04. Archived from the original on 2016-03-07. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
  3. ^ Crash DVD Commentary Track. 2005.
  4. ^ Jung, E. Alex. "Thandie Newton Is Finally Ready to Speak Her Mind". Vulture. Archived from the original on 2020-08-04. Retrieved 2020-08-05.
  5. ^ "Crash (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on August 8, 2020. Retrieved February 21, 2020.
  6. ^ "Crash Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  7. ^ "Crash". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on January 4, 2015. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 5, 2005). "Crash". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on March 16, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  9. ^ "Empire Features". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  10. ^ "Worst Movie of the Decade". Archived from the original on 2017-03-03. Retrieved 2017-03-06.
  11. ^ "Crash and the City". May 7, 2007. Archived from the original on December 25, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  12. ^ "Film Criticism Current Issue". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  13. ^ "IFTA Picks 30 Most Significant Indie Films". The Wrap. Archived from the original on February 6, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
  14. ^ "Metacritic: 2005 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". December 14, 2007. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved April 30, 2018.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  15. ^ "Ebert and Roeper Top Ten Lists (2000-2005))". Archived from the original on May 25, 2018. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-02-25. Retrieved 2019-02-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ Turan, Kenneth (March 5, 2006). "Breaking no ground: Why 'Crash' won, why 'Brokeback' lost and how the Academy chose to play it safe". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 26, 2006. Retrieved May 23, 2009.
  18. ^ "Maybe Crash's upset at the Oscars shouldn't have been such a surprise?". Los Angeles Times. April 16, 2009. Archived from the original on January 13, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2009.
  19. ^ "Extended Trivial Top 20®". March–April 2012. Archived from the original on March 11, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  20. ^ Roumell, Graham, "What was the biggest Oscar mistake ever made?" Archived 2017-02-27 at the Wayback Machine March 2014
  21. ^ "Recount! Oscar Voters Today Would Make 'Brokeback Mountain' Best Picture Over 'Crash'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2019-01-22. Retrieved 2020-01-03.
  22. ^ "Crash Burned: Academy Members Reassess Past Oscar Decisions". The Guardian. February 19, 2015. Archived from the original on February 28, 2016. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
  23. ^ Child, Ben (12 August 2015). "Paul Haggis: Crash didn't deserve best picture Oscar". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  24. ^ "iTunes - Crash by Mark Isham". Archived from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2013-02-07.
  25. ^ "Historical Blu-ray Release Dates". Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  26. ^ "Crash: A Starz Original Series". Archived from the original on October 15, 2009. Retrieved April 30, 2010.

External links[edit]