JG Ballard: David Cronenberg’s Crash Press Kit

Crash is a kind of blueprint for the year 2000. As a cautionary tale, it
explores the new relationships that people are making in terms of
technology. It’s an original book in the sense that it is one of the
very few to look frankly at the sort of landscape in which we actually
live. I’m not disappointed in the prophecies that I made when I wrote it
25 years ago. Had I been wrong, it wouldn’t have been possible to film
the book so effectively as David has done. …

The Crash script is brilliant. David has done a superb job. When he sent
me the script of Crash in late 1994, I was overwhelmed by it because it
seemed to me to take off where my novel had stopped. I remember writing
to him saying ‘it is even more frightening than my novel.’ What I meant
was, it’s even truer to my novel than my novel is. It dispenses with all
easy explanations, all evasions, all pretences and goes to the heart of
the matter. Crash is a report from the eye of the hurricane. In that
small calm space David Cronenberg has made this brilliant and stunning
film. It’s like a car crash in slow motion and not because of its
violence or sexuality, but because of what it says about violence and
sexuality. …

I thought the best way to tell the truth about my own imagination and
the way I see the motorcar and technology in the world today was to put
myself into this novel. I’m glad that David retained that in the
screenplay and that James Spader plays me. Of course he’s not playing
the literal Ballard, he’s playing the interior Ballard and not the life
I actually have led. (I was once as young as James Spader but I was
never so good looking). As a novelist and as the character of the novel,
I was exploring this extraordinary world of the strange hoodlum
scientist Vaughan and these extraordinary women. Likewise in the film,
James Spader plays a representative of the audience who finds himself
exploring this extraordinary world. I think he represent Everyman. …

It would be rather difficult to sum up Crash in a single phrase but I
think modem technology is constantly reshaping our lives and we’ve got
to open all the doors so that we can enter the new world that’s lying
around us thanks to the motorcar and all aspects of modern technology.

People’s cars affect the psychology of everyday life in a way that not
other [sic] human artifact does. We’re intensely sensitive to cars,
their stylizing, the interior trim. The whole experience of driving a
motorcar along a modem highway is an intense collaboration on all sorts
of unconscious levels between us and this machine. Crash explores this
relationship which most of us take completely for granted. …

I thought James Spader did a brilliant job with great sensitivity,
strength, curiosity and awareness. The character has seen clearly for
the first time. Elias Koteas conveyed the kind of messianic dream of
violence and sexuality that drives Vaughan on in this almost insane
quest. A stunning performance. I think the women’s roles in Crash are
very difficult to play. Every one of the actresses in the film
triumphantly brings off this task of responding to this strange logic
that’s unfolding. They have to strip themselves, not just literally or
physically, and not just by exposing their own emotions during sexual
excitements, but they have to expose their inner dreams of what feminine
sexuality is going to be in this new order that arrives.

Crash is a totally honest film and I think it should be seen in that
light. It’s honest about our basic emotions and our imaginations. It may
seem violent, but there’s comparatively little violence and sex in it
compared with some of the brutally crude offerings that Hollywood in
particular brings to us these days. The violence and sexuality present
in Crash we see in our ordinary lives. …

What is it about the car crash that so stimulates our imagination? Crash
looks into the reason why we are so driven by this strange, frightening
but perhaps releasing, imaginative experience.


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