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Eye on Sound: Naked Lunch (1991) (soundwave)

Naked Lunch

David Cronenberg / GB, CA, 1991 / 115 min.

David Cronenberg, director of classic body horror films such as The Brood and Videodrome, was the right man to film William Burroughs’ cult classic Naked Lunch. Peter Weller plays the author in various states of expanded consciousness; Ornette Coleman accompanies him with free jazz.

poster Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg, GB/CA 1991)

After spending six months in a darkened hotel room staring at his big toe in Tangiers, the drug addicted beat author Burroughs decides to clean up. He goes cold turkey and gets to work on what would become Naked Lunch.

Howard Shore, Cronenberg’s preferred composer since 1979, managed to capture the fragmented structure and paranoid atmosphere of Burroughs’ writing in the score. Shore entered the studio with none other than free jazz giant Ornette Coleman, who created a number of (solo) pieces for the film including titles such as ‘Bugpowder’, ‘Write Man’ and ‘Intersong’.

Mind expanding

Jazz and fantasy, jazz and horror: seldom do the two combine, however Naked Lunch’s soundtrack proves that symphonic free jazz can bet he means to giving the dark, tortured side of the subconscious free range. Chaos, fear and liberating mind expansion: you can hear them all in Shore and Coleman’s score. In other words: “Save the psychoanalysis for your grasshopper friends”.


Persons under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult


David Cronenberg

Production year




Original title

Naked Lunch


115 min.







Part of

All That Jazz

All That Jazz: a scintillating programme on jazz and film featuring classics, live performances and a focus on exceptional avant-garde and activist filmmakers with a passion for jazz. From Miles Davis to Vincent de Boer, from Sun Ra to Ornette Coleman.

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still Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg, GB/CA 1991)
still Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg, GB/CA 1991)
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