JG Ballard’s disturbing dystopian tale of a future gone mad is about to be adapted by the brilliant Ben Wheatley, the same man behind the dark TV comedy Ideal, the motion pictures The Kill List, Down Terrace and his latest film A Field in England. High Rise is a deeply upsetting story set in a massive apartment building that gives over to internal warfare. While some of his other stories were adapted for TV, High Rise was the inspiration for the 1987 Doctor Who serial Paradise Towers (believe it or not).
Wheatley is a spectacular filmmaker who continues earn accolades for his unique blend of humor and drama all synthesized through his own unique lens. While his movies have gotten very limited release in the US, both Kill List and Down Terrace are currently streaming on Netflix and highly recommended.
Kill List trailer:
Down Terrace trailer:
A Field in England trailer:
I am just going to assume you have some Ballard collections on your shelf…
Kill List director Ben Wheatley looks set to helm the long-gestating film adaptation of High Rise, novelist JG Ballard’s classic tale of urban disintegration.
The Oscar-winning British producer Jeremy Thomas, garlanded when Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor took best film in 1988, has been vying to bring Ballard’s book to the big screen for more than 30 years. With his penchant for splicing horror genre tropes with searing social realism, Wheatley looks the perfect fit to adapt a novel that sees the denizens of a luxury high-tech tower descend willingly into a murderous melee of chaos and destruction. He will direct from a screenplay by his wife and regular collaborator, Amy Jump (Kill List, A Field in England).
Ballard’s novels Crash and Empire of the Sun have previously been adapted by David Cronenberg and Steven Spielberg respectively. Wheatley told ScreenDaily: “I love [his] work. This project started out with me looking at my bookcase, seeing the book and thinking: ‘That would make a great film.’
“I started looking into who had the rights for the book and that led me to Jeremy, who has made some of my favourite films. It took me a few meetings just to get over the typewriter he has from Naked Lunch in his office.”
Wheatley revealed he subsequently began studying notes and letters by the author of Concrete Island and Cocaine Nights that can currently be found at the British Library. “The idea is to be true to Ballard,” he said. “It is such a rich and interesting time that it seemed a shame to set it anywhere other than England.
“I was born in 1972, three years before the book was written, so one of the attractions of the film was that I kind of imagine myself as one of the kids running around on the estate and my parents as the adults. The scope of the film is exciting. It will be challenging, like Crash, but it’s not as dark as Kill List. The book is pretty out there, though.”
Thomas, a long-term friend of Ballard, has been trying to get a film made since the 1970s. Splice’s Vincenzo Natali was most recently on board to take charge of the cameras, while Nicolas Roeg came close to directing a version in the late 1970s. Wheatley’s version is said to be completely different to earlier proposed incarnations. A 2014 shoot is planned.