Stereo (1969 film)

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Stereo+Crimes of Future.jpg
DVD Cover for Stereo and Crimes of the Future
Directed by David Cronenberg
Produced by David Cronenberg
Written by David Cronenberg
Starring Ronald Mlodzik
Jack Messinger
Iain Ewing
Clara Mayer
Paul Mulholland
Arlene Mlodzik
Glenn McCauley
Cinematography David Cronenberg
Edited by David Cronenberg
Distributed by Film Canada Presentations
Release dates
  • 23 June 1969 (1969-06-23)
Running time
65 minutes
Country Canada
Language English

Stereo is a 1969 Canadian film directed, written, produced, shot, and edited by David Cronenberg in his feature film debut.[1] It stars Ronald Mlodzik, who also appears in Cronenberg's Crimes of the Future, Shivers and Rabid. It was Cronenberg's 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. This film is set in 1969.

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


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.


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


The film embodies several themes now common within Cronenberg's 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".


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