Crashed – J.G. Ballard And The Motorcar


In 1973, J.G. Ballard wrote what is probably his most famous novel, Crash, which brought together the dystopian, apocalyptic style of his earlier science fiction novels and distilled it into the personal – exploring the dark world of ultra-fetishism, in this case sexual arousal from car crashes. In 1971, Ballard explored the world of the car in a BBC documentary, mixing dramatised and eerily erotic sequences with actress Gabrielle Drake, test footage of car crashes and Ballard’s own views about how the car has taken such a central place in our lives.



Directed by Harley Cokeliss, who would go on to bigger if not better things like Battletruck, this 17-minute piece – originally titled Crash!, oddly retitled when BBC Four re-broadcast it – is clearly part of a larger whole – no doubt one of the arts shows that the BBC used to produce all the time and now never do. Based on writing in Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition, it’s a great and moody dramatic work in itself, and a fascinating look at Ballard exploring ideas that would later come together in his masterpiece novel  Crash.