Ballard, Cronenberg and insular, isolated communities going insane – it sounds the perfect combination.
I think we can all agree that if we are going to have more J.G. Ballard movie adaptations – and we really should have more J.G. Ballard movie adaptations – then it is best that they are directed by someone called Cronenberg. David Cronenberg’s version of Crash is an exemplary study in how to take Ballard’s provocative and sometimes difficult concepts and transfer them into something cinematic without losing the very essence of what they are about. Other adaptations have been less successful.
If Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor showed us anything, it was that he has absorbed his father’s unique style of body horror, science fiction, disturbing intimacy and extreme violence, and made something that is very much his own out of it – not so much someone simply apeing his elder’s work as – rather suitably, given who we are talking about – having some genetic disposition that means a similar world view is running through their collective works.
So the news that the younger Cronenberg is to tackle a TV series adaptation of Ballard’s Super-Cannes is very welcome. Super-Cannes is a dark and savage satire of enclosed societies gone very bad, with a glossy facade disguising the corruption within. In that sense, it’s very much in the spirit of both Cronenberg Senior’s Shivers and Ballard’s High Rise, both of which appeared almost simultaneously in the mid-Seventies, tying the pair together in a curious symbiosis that took decades to come to fruition.
Ballard’s smart satire might well become a blunt slice of social justice shouting in wrong hands, but we have confidence that Cronenberg will do right by both the material and the viewer, allowing us to find our own subtexts rather than bludgeoning us over the head with The Message as other filmmakers are prone to do in these heightened times. The series – no word on length or final destination just yet – is produced by Anti-World’s Andy Starke, both a fan of the novel and producer of many of the more challenging movies in recent years, which also presumably ensures that there will be little compromise demanded in the adaptation of the 2000 novel.
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