Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ben Wheatley To Adapt JG Ballard's "Block War" Novel, High Rise

Producer JEREMY THOMAS has decided to set BEN WHEATLEY as director on a film version of JG BALLARD's High Rise, working from a script by Wheatley's wife and regular collaborator, AMY JUMP.

The novel is about the moral decay of a society housed in an ultramodern high rise tower, something not too dissimilar to a less-fantastical Mega City tower block. David Cronenberg played with similar ideas, amongst others, in Shivers, and just this weekend I saw the Spanish movie, Last Days at Frightfest and there was a tinge of Ballard's thinking in there too. I believe there was also an episode of Doctor Who called Paradise Towers that played with the same ideas. Ballard really started something.

I should say that the Block War I refer to in the headline is within the block, not between blocks.

According to , Thomas decided to recruit Wheatley when another, recent attempt to mount the film fell through:

Splice director Vincenzo Natali had long been attached to direct his and Richard Stanley's adaptation of the book but when the rights for the project recently lapsed Thomas decided to take the film in another direction. Thomas nearly made the film in the late 1970s, with Nicolas Roeg directing.

Well, I'd have been fascinated to see Roeg's version, for sure - not least because it would have been made in the 70s, and that's almost where the novel's ideas best fit* - and I had been holding out hope for Natali and Stanley's adaptation to come together. I'm quite disappointed it didn't, to be honest.

Wheatley's not really one of my absolute favourites, I have to admit, and when I have enjoyed his work, it's more the comedic stuff that's played well with me. But he does have a way with casting, or at least a strong team of actors who are keen to work with him, and do good work for him.

And he does know about hellish tower blocks - there's plenty of evidence in this in his episodes of Ideal.

If all goes to plan, Wheatley will shoot the film next year. He's also got two TV projects in the works, including Silk Road at HBO, and a bigger budget sci-fi monster movie, Freakshift.

*It was published in '69, I believe. Ballard was ahead of his time.
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