David Cronenberg Says AI Is ‘Ferocious and Terrifying’ but ‘Also Incredibly Useful’

Cannes 2024: The technology used in his new film “The Shrouds” already exists, the filmmaker adds, it’s just up to someone to do it

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The use of AI in cinema should be respected, “The Shrouds” filmmaker David Cronenberg said at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, but it doesn’t have to be feared. “It’s like nuclear fission,” he explained. “It’s ferocious and terrifying, but it’s also incredibly useful. What do we do? I have no idea.”

Cronenberg described himself as a “filmmaker who welcomed the advent of computer generated imagery” and said “it has made filmmaking much easier.” So in that respect, he continued, “I welcome it and I look forward to using it.”

“It’s quite shocking, though, to see what can be done, even now, with the beginnings of AI,” Cronenberg added. “It might completely transform the act of writing and directing.”

After he described AI technology that can produce short films, Cronenberg illustrated the point. “You can imagine a screenwriter sitting there, writing a movie… if that person can write in enough detail, the movie will be there. The act of production will be gone. That’s the promise and the threat of AI.”

The technology used in Cronenberg’s new film “The Shrouds” is also already here and available, the filmmaker said.

In “The Shrouds,” Vincent Cassel plays Karsh, a businessman whose wife, played by Diane Kruger, did five years earlier. In response, he built a technology that wraps corpses in shrouds that can in turn transmit 3D images of their bodies as those bodies decompose. Karsh’s clients can also bury their family members and loved ones in his cemetery, where headstones include a display screen that allows them to view the body.

“Humans have memorialized our loved ones after their deaths “since the beginning of human civilization,” Cronenberg said, something that is at the heart of his film.

“Using technology is an obvious evolution. In ‘The Shrouds,’ that’s exactly what’s happening,” he continued. “The technology exists now, it could be done, if anybody really wanted to do it.”

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