Existenz (stylized as eXistenZ) is a 1999 science fiction body horror film produced, written and directed by the Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg. It stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law. eXistenZ was his last original screenplay until Cosmopolis (2012).

Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Cronenberg
Produced by
Written byDavid Cronenberg
Music byHoward Shore
CinematographyPeter Suschitzky
Edited byRonald Sanders
Distributed by
Release date
  • April 23, 1999 (Canada/US)
  • April 30, 1999 (UK)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • France
Box office$2.9 million[2]


In the near-future, biotechnological virtual reality game consoles known as "game pods" have replaced electronic ones. The pods present "UmbyCords" that attach to "bio-ports", connectors surgically inserted into players' spines. Two game companies, Antenna Research and Cortical Systematics, compete against each other. In addition, the Realists fight both companies to prevent the "deforming" of reality.

Antenna Research's Allegra Geller, a world renowned game designer, is demonstrating her latest virtual reality game, eXistenZ, to a focus group. A Realist named Noel Dichter shoots Allegra in the shoulder with an organic pistol he smuggled past security. As Dichter is gunned down by the security team, security guard Ted Pikul rushes to Geller and escorts her outside.

Geller discovers that her pod, which contains the only copy of eXistenZ, may have been damaged. Pikul reluctantly agrees to have a bio-port installed in his spine so they can test the integrity of the game together. Allegra takes him to a gas station run by a black-marketeer named Gas, who deliberately installs a faulty bio-port. He reveals his intention to kill Geller for the bounty on her head. Pikul kills Gas, and the two escape to a former ski lodge used by Kiri Vinokur, Geller's mentor. Vinokur and his assistant repair the damaged pod and give Pikul a new bio-port.

Geller and Pikul enter the game, and meet with D'Arcy Nader, a video game shop owner, who provides them new "micro pods." They activate the new pods and enter a deeper layer of virtual reality.

They assume new identities as workers in a game pod factory. Another worker in the factory, Yevgeny Nourish, claims to be their Realist contact. At a Chinese restaurant near the factory, Nourish recommends that they order the special for lunch. Pikul eats the unappetizing special, and constructs a pistol out of the inedible parts. In jest, he threatens Geller, then shoots the Chinese waiter. When the pair return to the game store, Hugo Carlaw informs them that Nourish is actually a double agent for Cortical Systematics, and the waiter Pikul murdered was the actual contact.

At the factory, they find a diseased pod. Geller connects it to her bio-port as part of a plan to infect the other pods and sabotage the factory. When Geller quickly becomes ill, Pikul cuts the UmbyCord, but she begins to bleed to death. Nourish appears with a flamethrower and blasts the diseased pod, which bursts into deadly spores.

Geller and Pikul awaken back at the ski lodge, where they discover Allegra’s game pod is also diseased. Allegra surmises that Pikul’s new bio-port must have been infected by Vinokur to destroy her game. She inserts a disinfecting device into Pikul's bioport. Unexpectedly, Carlaw reappears as a Realist resistance fighter and escorts Geller and Pikul outside to witness the death of eXistenZ. Before Carlaw can kill Geller, he is shot in the back by Vinokur, who is a double agent for Cortical Systematics. He informs Geller that he copied her game data while he was fixing her pod. In revenge, she kills Vinokur. Pikul then reveals that he himself is a Realist sent to kill her. Geller tells Pikul she had known his intentions since he pointed the gun at her in the Chinese restaurant, and she remotely detonates the disinfecting device in his bioport, killing him.

Suddenly, Pikul and Geller are on stage together with the other members of the cast, wearing electronic virtual reality devices. Nourish explains that the story was all part of a virtual reality game he designed called transCendenZ. He tells his assistant Merle that he feels uneasy, because the anti-game plot elements may have originated from the thoughts of one of the testers. Pikul and Geller approach Nourish and accuse him of distorting reality, before shooting him and Merle to death. As Pikul and Geller leave, they aim their guns at the person who played the Chinese waiter, who first pleads for his life, then asks if they are still in the game. Pikul and Geller stand together in silence, not answering.



The film's plot came about after Cronenberg conducted an interview with Salman Rushdie for Shift magazine in 1995. At the time, Rushdie was in hiding due to a Fatwa being put on his life by Muslim extremists due to his controversial book The Satanic Verses. Rushdie's dilemma gave Cronenberg an idea of "a Fatwa against a virtual-reality game designer". Existenz was originally pitched to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, but they did not green-light the film due to its complex structure.[3]


  • Christopher Priest wrote the tie-in novel to accompany the movie Existenz, the theme of which has much in common with some of Priest's own novels.
  • In 1999, a graphic novel credited to David Cronenberg and Sean Scoffield was published.


The film received generally positive reviews, with a 71% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The site's summary stated of the film: "Gooey, slimy, grotesque fun."[4] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three stars in his review of the film. Noting its release after fellow science-fiction film The Matrix, he compared the two, stating that while both have special effects, he stated that Cronenberg's film was stranger along with having his best effects involve "gooey, indescribable organic things".[5] Conversely, James Berardinelli gave the film a two star rating in his review. He cites the disjointed feel of the film, calling it a "missed opportunity" that suffers from being released near The Matrix and Open Your Eyes, which he states did similar things that were accomplished better in those films.[6]


49th Berlin International Film Festival

  • Won, Silver Bear for outstanding artistic contribution David Cronenberg[7]
  • Nominated, Golden Bear: David Cronenberg

Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival

  • Won, Silver Scream: David Cronenberg

Genie Awards

Golden Reel Awards

  • Nominated, Best Sound Editing in a Foreign Feature: David Evans, Wayne Griffin, Mark Gingras, John Laing, Tom Bjelic, and Paul Shikata

Saturn Awards

  • Nominated, Best Science Fiction Film (lost to The Matrix)

See also


  1. ^ "EXISTENZ (15)". British Board of Film Classification. April 30, 1999. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "eXistenZ". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  3. ^ Richard von Busack (April 22–28, 1999). "Pod Man Out: A virtual-reality game turns reality inside out in David Cronenberg's 'eXistenZ'". Metro Silicon Valley. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  4. ^ "Existenz (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 3, 2015.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Existenz Movie Review & Film Summary (1999) - Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  6. ^ http://www.reelviews.net/reelviews/existenz
  7. ^ "Berlinale: 1999 Prize Winners". Berlin Film Festival. Retrieved September 3, 2015.

External links

20th Genie Awards

The 20th Genie Awards were held in 2000 to honour films released in 1999. The ceremony was hosted by Patrick McKenna.

After the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television decided to revise rules allowing films with only a minority of Canadian involvement in production to compete, Sunshine was nominated for 14 awards and Felicia's Journey was nominated for 10.

49th Berlin International Film Festival

The 49th annual Berlin International Film Festival was held from February 10 to 21, 1999. The festival opened with Aimée & Jaguar by Max Färberböck. The Golden Bear was awarded to Canadian-American film The Thin Red Line directed by Terrence Malick.The retrospective dedicated to Austrian-American theatre and film director Otto Preminger was shown at the festival. 70 mm version of Preminger's 1959 musical film Porgy and Bess served as the closing night film.

Biomechanical (band)

Biomechanical are a progressive groove metal band from London, UK. Biomechanical’s existence started back in April 1999 by the founding member John K who wrote, recorded and arranged all of the music, with the exception of the songs ‘Existenz’ and ‘Survival’ which were co-written by Chris Webb and Jamie Hunt respectively. The lyrics were written by Adam Rose (Eight Moons) and John K & Jon Collins (Empires of the worlds & Cannibalised).

Biomechanical started as a lifelong goal for singer/songwriter John K who envisioned connected concept albums telling a unified narrative. The albums were released as Eight Moons, The Empires of the Worlds and Cannibalised.

After the release of 'Eight Moons' via Revolver Records the owner of Elitist Records Lee Barrett approached Biomechanical and after negotiations, all parties agreed and signed with Earache/Elitist records on 3 September 2004.

Biomechanical toured Europe with Decapitated, Stampin Ground, Exodus, 3 Inches Of Blood and opened for Shadow’s Fall and Nevermore for the promotion of the band’s second album The Empires of the Worlds which was produced by Andy Sneap.

John K wrote the third installment titled ‘Cannibalised’ in 2006/7 and also like the last two albums, he engineered the recordings. Legendary Grammy Award Nominee, Judas Priest producer Chris Tsangarides took the production duties and mixed the album in the summer of 2007. The mastering took place at the 'Close to the Edge Studios' and was done by Jon Ashley. The cover was designed by Nat Jones. Cannibalised was released in February 2008.

The band is on hiatus with no current plans to release new material.

Christopher Eccleston

Christopher Eccleston (; born 16 February 1964) is an English actor. The recipient of an Emmy Award and two BAFTA Award nominations, Eccleston is best known for his work on television and in film – in particular for his collaborations with directors Danny Boyle and Michael Winterbottom and writers Peter Flannery, Jimmy McGovern and Russell T. Davies.

Eccleston trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and made his professional acting debut onstage in a Bristol Old Vic production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Eccleston garnered attention for his film roles as Derek Bentley in Let Him Have It and David Stevens in Shallow Grave and for his television performances in Cracker and Hillsborough. His BAFTA-nominated performance as Nicky Hutchinson in the BBC miniseries Our Friends in the North (1996) established Eccleston as a household name in the UK; he followed the serial with film roles in Jude, A Price Above Rubies, Elizabeth, eXistenZ, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Invisible Circus, The Others, 24 Hour Party People and 28 Days Later and television roles including the drama series Clocking Off and a second BAFTA-nominated performance as Messianic figure Stephen Baxter in the ITV drama serial The Second Coming.

Eccleston garnered widespread attention and acclaim for portraying the ninth incarnation of the Doctor in the 2005 revival of the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, becoming the first actor to play the role since 1996. He departed the role after a single series, winning a National Television Award and receiving Broadcasting Press Guild Award and BAFTA Cymru Award nominations for his performance. Eccleston has since appeared in the television series Heroes, The Shadow Line, Blackout, Lucan, The Leftovers, Safe House, Fortitude and The A Word and films including G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Thor: The Dark World and Legend. He won an International Emmy Award for his performance in an episode of the anthology series Accused. Onstage, Eccleston has played the title roles in productions of Hamlet and Macbeth as well as starring in productions of Miss Julie, A Doll's House and Antigone. Since 2017, Eccleston has narrated the documentary series Ambulance.

Cosmopolis (film)

Cosmopolis is a 2012 drama-thriller film written, produced, and directed by David Cronenberg and starring Robert Pattinson in the lead with Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton, Sarah Gadon, Mathieu Amalric, Juliette Binoche, Jay Baruchel and Kevin Durand. It is based on the novel of the same name by Don DeLillo. On 25 May 2012, the film premiered in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, drawing mixed early critical reactions. The film was released in Canada on 8 June 2012, and began a limited release in the United States on 17 August 2012 by eOne Films. It is Cronenberg's first foray into script writing since 1999's eXistenZ.


Dasein (German pronunciation: [ˈdaːzaɪn]) is a German word that means "being there" or "presence" (German: da "there"; sein "being"), and is often translated into English with the word "existence". It is a fundamental concept in the existential philosophy of Martin Heidegger, particularly in his magnum opus Being and Time. Heidegger uses the expression Dasein to refer to the experience of being that is peculiar to human beings. Thus it is a form of being that is aware of and must confront such issues as personhood, mortality and the dilemma or paradox of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with oneself.

David Cronenberg

David Paul Cronenberg (born March 15, 1943) is a Canadian filmmaker, writer, and actor. He is one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror genre, with his films exploring visceral bodily transformation, infection, technology, and the intertwining of the psychological with the physical. In the first third of his career, he explored these themes mostly through horror and science fiction films such as Scanners (1981) and Videodrome (1983), although his work has since expanded beyond these genres.

Cronenberg's films have polarized critics and audiences alike; he has earned critical acclaim and has sparked controversy for his depictions of gore and violence. The Village Voice called him "the most audacious and challenging narrative director in the English-speaking world". His films have won numerous awards, including, for Crash, the Special Jury Prize at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, a unique award that is distinct from the Jury Prize as it is not given annually, but only at the request of the official jury, who in this case gave the award "for originality, for daring and for audacity". The award has not been given since.


Existensminimum is a Swedish board game produced in the late 1990s. The object of the game is not to accumulate wealth or belongings but rather to "survive" the financial minefield that the game consists of (hence the name). The game is currently not available in English, but an English version is under development.

Existenz (disambiguation)

Existenz may refer to:

Existenz (film), a film written, produced, and directed by David Cronenberg

Existenz (journal), the official journal of the Karl Jaspers Society

A philosophical term introduced by Karl Jaspers

Existenz (journal)

Existenz is an on-line biannual academic journal covering research in philosophy, religion, politics, and the arts. Established in 2006 by its founding editors Alan M. Olson and Helmut Wautischer and is sponsored by the Karl Jaspers Society of North America. Its title, Existenz, derives from an essential feature of the philosophy of Karl Jaspers, namely, the notion of mögliche Existenz or "possible self-being" for which Jaspers became famous as one of the world's leading existentialist philosophers in the 20th century.

The journal serves as a publication outlet for Jaspers scholarship, cooperates with various international Jaspers societies, including those in the United States, Japan, Poland, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Croatia, and also considers direct submissions of articles for online publication. Existenz is indexed by The Philosopher's Index and included in the EBSCO database.

Helmut Wautischer

Helmut Wautischer is an Austrian philosopher. He is currently a senior philosophy lecturer at Sonoma State University. He received his Bachelor's degree from the Bundeshandelsakademie Klagenfurt and a PhD in philosophy from Karl-Franzens University of Graz where he studied with Rudolf Haller and Ernst Topitsch. He was influenced by the writings of Carlos Castaneda and received a Fulbright scholarship for research on this subject at UCLA, leading to his dissertation, Methodology and Knowledge. Proposing an Expanded Science of Man. He has published essays in scholarly journals, such as Polylog, Prima Philosophia, Dialogue and Humanism, Anthropology of Consciousness, Shaman, Journal of Ritual Studies, and Journal of Ethical Studies.

He presented papers at the World Congresses of Philosophy (Moscow 1993, Boston 1998, Istanbul 2003, Athens 2013), Tucson Center for Consciousness Studies, American Philosophical Association, American Anthropological Association, the Austrian Association for Philosophy, International Conference on the Study of Shamanism and Alternative Modes of Healing, and other venues. He is the president of the Karl Jaspers Society of North America since 2006, and is the founding editor (with Alan M. Olson) and editor-in-chief of the online journal Existenz. He is also the managing editor of the Paideia Project at Boston University, and was an elected member to the SSU Academic Senate.

James Isaac

James Isaac (June 5, 1960 – May 6, 2012) was an American film director and visual effects supervisor.

Karl Jaspers

Karl Theodor Jaspers (; German: [ˈkaɐ̯l ˈjaspɐs]; 23 February 1883 – 26 February 1969) was a German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher who had a strong influence on modern theology, psychiatry, and philosophy. After being trained in and practicing psychiatry, Jaspers turned to philosophical inquiry and attempted to discover an innovative philosophical system. He was often viewed as a major exponent of existentialism in Germany, though he did not accept the label.

Karl Jaspers Society of North America

The Karl Jaspers Society of North America (KJSNA) is a philosophy organization founded on December 28, 1980 by George B. Pepper (Iona College), Edith Ehrlich, and the late Leonard H. Ehrlich (University of Massachusetts Amherst) to promote study and research on the ideas of Karl Jaspers and related issues in continental philosophy. The prospect of forming this society emerged from the research by these scholars while preparing a systematic reader of the basic philosophical writings of Karl Jaspers. Enthusiastic response to the reader prompted Pepper and Ehrlich to conclude that a learned society to study the work of Jaspers should be founded.

Since 1980 the Karl Jaspers Society of North America (KJSNA) has conducted its annual meetings with the American Philosophical Association (APA) and occasionally with the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (SPEP). The proceedings of KJSNA meetings are published, since 2005, in the on-line journal Existenz, co-edited by Alan M. Olson (Boston University) and Helmut Wautischer (California State University at Sonoma). Research and writing presented at the annual meetings of KJSNA is automatically considered for publication, although Existenz also welcomes unsolicited related materials in philosophy, religion, politics, and the arts. The 30th Anniversary of KJSNA is celebrated in a collection of essays co-edited by Helmut Wautischer, Alan M. Olson, and Gregory J. Walters entitled, Philosophical Faith and the Future of Humanity,(Springer Verlag, 2011).

The Society (KJSNA) has played a leading role in the organization of international meetings of Jaspers societies at World Congress of Philosophy, in cooperation with the Karl Jaspers Stiftung of Basel, the Jaspers Society of Japan, the Österreichische Karl-Jaspers-Gesellschaft, and the Jaspers Society of Poland. The first international meeting was held in Montreal 1983 at the XVII World Congress of Philosophy. Subsequent meetings have been held at the XVIII World Congress of Philosophy in Brighton, England (1988); the XIX World Congress of Philosophy in Moscow (1993); the XX World Congress of Philosophy in Boston (1998); the XXI World Congress of Philosophy in Istanbul (2003); the XXII World Congress of Philosophy in Seoul, Korea (2008); and the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy in Athens, Greece (2013).

The proceedings of the meetings of the International Association of Karl Jaspers Societies listed above have been published under the following titles:

Karl Jaspers Today: Philosophy at the Threshold of the Future (ISBN 0-8191-7014-3)

Karl Jaspers: Philosopher Among Philosophers (ISBN 3-88479-848-0)

Karl Jaspers: On the Way to World Philosophy (ISBN 3-8260-1564-9)

Karl Jaspers’ Philosophy: Rooted in the Present, Paradigm for the Future (ISBN 3-8260-2601-2)

Karl Jaspers: Historic Actuality in View of the Fundamental Problems of Mankind (ISBN 978-382603938-6)

Cross-Cultural Conflicts and Communication: Rethinking Jaspers' Philosophy Today (ISBN 978-382605214-9)The Karl Jaspers Society of North America is tax exempt under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

Megazone 23

Megazone 23 (メガゾーン23, Megazōn Tsū Surī) is a four-part Japanese cyberpunk original video animation created by AIC, written by Hiroyuki Hoshiyama and Emu Arii, and directed by Noboru Ishiguro, Ichiro Itano, Kenichi Yatagai and Shinji Aramaki. The series debuted in 1985. It was originally titled Omega Zone 23 (オメガゾーン23, Omega Zōn Tsū Surī) but the title was changed just before release.The story follows Shogo Yahagi, a delinquent motorcyclist whose possession of a government prototype bike leads him to discover the truth about the city. Released on the VHS, Betamax, Laserdisc and VHD formats, the first part was a major commercial success upon release in 1985, selling over 216,000 copies in Japan, mostly to video rental stores. At a price of ¥7,800, the first part grossed approximately ¥1.7 billion ($21.3 million) from video sales in Japan. The film's concept of a simulated reality has drawn comparisons to later films including Dark City (1998), The Matrix (1999) and Existenz (1999).

Philosophy of Existence

Philosophy of Existence (German: Existenzphilosophie, 1938) is a book by German psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers. It is both a discussion on the history of philosophy and an exposition of Jaspers' own philosophical system, which is often viewed as a form of existentialism. He put forth concepts such as existence in a minimal and superficial state, "dasein" (the word is also used by Martin Heidegger, but with different meanings), and Existenz, a state of authentic true being, and their relationship with the "encompassing", an elusive being often understood as the totality of consciousness, the world itself, and other forms of determinate objects. Jaspers stressed the importance of transcendence, similar to the term "leap of faith" implied in the works of Søren Kierkegaard.

The English version translated by Richard F. Grabau was published in 1971. It was included in a series of books of Continental Philosophy, edited by John Silber and published by University of Pennsylvania Press.

Robert A. Silverman

Robert A. Silverman was born on February 24, 1938 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Silverman is a Canadian actor and often cast by writer/director David Cronenberg. He is sometimes credited as Bob Silverman or Robert Silverman. He has appeared in five films directed by David Cronenberg. He has also acted in the Friday the 13th: The Series episodes "Hate On Your Dial" and "Faith Healer" (directed by Cronenberg), and acted with him in Jason X.

Silverman was nominated in 2003 for a Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role in a Dramatic Series in The Eleventh Hour.Silverman has been cast by Cronenberg in the following films:

eXistenZ (1999) as D'Arcy Nader

Naked Lunch (1991) as Hans

Scanners (1981) as Benjamin Pierce

The Brood (1979) as Jan Hartog

Rabid (1977) as Man In Hospital

Ronald Sanders (film editor)

Ronald Sanders is a Canadian film editor and television producer.


X610Z: existenz is an out-of-print Trading Card Board Game (TCBG), best described as a trading card game with a game board. X610Z is a game in the fantasy and science fiction genres, based on a story about a fictive happening in the near future. Every 4–5 months a new set will be introduced. The release of the second set(ACT II: Spoils of War) is planned for the end of May 2010.

The game play involves the use of playing cards and movement of fantasy creatures across the game board. All creatures (in the game referred to as "summons") are represented by pawns.

X610Z is a competitive strategy game with tournaments and championships that can be played by 2 to 6 players: Single Play (1 player versus 1 player), Multi Play (2-6 individual players) and Team Play (2 players versus 2 players, 3 players versus 3 players).

X610Z is designed and published in 2009 by the Dutch company Quantuum Magic BV. The basic set is called ACT I: The New Era. Advized minimum age: 12.

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