Ever wanted something more? Join us at the high-rise / Ben Wheatley / 2015

Ever wanted something more? Join us at the high-rise / Ben Wheatley / 2015


Footnotes

"We just couldn't find anywhere," Wheatley laments. The Red Road estate in Glasgow, the Barbican Centre in London and Birmingham's Central Library were influences, but they were all inaccessible in their own ways, destroyed, busy or simply shut. Further afield, the director looked to Le Corbusier's Unite d'Habitation in Marseille for inspiration. […] We ended up in Bangor in Northern Ireland and found this sports center that had been built in '73," he recalls. "We turned up outside and thought 'Well, this won't be of much use.' It was quite a long shot, but we went inside and realized it gave us almost everything that we needed." ➡︎

Ben had this idea that the five megalithic blocks of flats make up a hand. When you view them as a group, they’re actually designed around the idea of a hand that’s sunk into the ground. So the tops of the blocks bend in a very, very strange way. Nowadays, the engineers would just deal with that – that’s going on all over the world. But from that period, that’s quite tricky. So it was actually very tricky from a design perspective to make that real. For the CG, we had to give them a template of all the flats, how they looked together, all that stuff. So I had a young architect work with me, trying to draw that up, and it’s actually only just plausible, the way that leans. It would probably fall over. ➡︎

"We enter the through the foyer, a vast, concrete entrance inspired by the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier’s modernist housing design, first realised in the La Cité Radieuse project in Marseilles, which earned the nickname ‘The Nutter’s House’. “It had an amazing foyer which give me the idea for these angular pillars.” says Tildesley. ➡︎

[...] I liked this idea that the architect Anthony Royal had sacrificed the comfort and wellbeing of all the residents just to hold the buildings up. Mark Tildesley, the production designer, came up with this triangular buttress motif that was really oppressive, and makes it feel like the weight of the building is pressing down in these wedges. But they also mean everyone has to move to accommodate the building the whole time. ➡︎

The film is not a criticism of post-war architecture. It's not. It's not that detailed when you look at it. It's more that the building is a metaphor. ➡︎

Ben had said he wanted a booklet that would go into almost crazy detail on all the appliances in the building. It was about schematics – you could take it really far; stuff on how to attach your shower nozzle, that kind of thing. It was a fun one to do. We knew what the shape of the building would be, so we put that in, then it was just a layout of the room and what each area would be. The idea was you got this pack, ‘Welcome to your new home’, and it describes what your life will be like in there. Lots of cool references for that. It was a nice one from a design point of view, like an Ikea furniture manual. ➡︎

It is difficult to locate the site of Wheatley’s and Jump’s high-rise precisely – the film was shot on location in the old Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast but there is a teasing ambiguity in the medium and long shots, with London seemingly ever hovering on the smoggy horizons. Perhaps the boldest decision that the film-makers have made, however, is to set their adaptation not in the near-future of 2016 but in that of 1974. Ballard once said that he was only interested in what will happen in “the next five minutes”; and it is undoubtedly this ­enthusiasm for the inchoate that gives his tales their air of the unexpected. By reverse-engineering an imagined future in which men with handlebar moustaches ply cine cameras while saturnalian suburbanites trash their futuristic pads, Wheatley and Jump have introduced a perverse note of humour to what is otherwise a very grim series of events. ➡︎


Extras

The evolution of High-Rise, from sketchbook to screen / Sight & Sound Magazine / 2016

◼︎ ‘Working for the building’: An Interview with Ben Wheatley / Jamie Sherry / Ballardian / 2016

▶︎ KCRW Design and Architecture: High Rise Horrors / 2016

◼︎ A Roundtable Review of 'High-Rise,' Where Luxury Architecture Turns Dystopic / CityLab / 2016

▶︎ High-Rise - Bringing Ballard To The Big Screen / Studiocanal / 2016

▶︎ Ben Wheatley: The Lowdown on High-Rise with Tom Hiddleston / BBC Arts / 2016


Sources

◼︎ Retromania: Inside 'High-Rise', Ballard's Brutalist nightmare / Thomas Page / CNN / 2016

◼︎ Mark Tildesley interview: ‘High-Rise floats in a world that’s slightly strange’ / Dominic Preston / Candid Magazine / 2016

◼︎ Building the Brutalist Set for Ballard’s High Rise / Colin Crummy / Amuse / 2016

◼︎ Building Ballard: An Interview With High-Rise Director Ben Whitley / Jon Astbury / Uncube Magazine / 2016

◼︎ High Rise is "not a criticism of post-war architecture" says director Ben Wheatley / Anna Winston Dezeen / 2016

◼︎ Inside High-Rise / Mark Sinclair / Creative Review / 2016

◼︎ What would J G Ballard have made of the new High-Rise film? / Will Self / New Statesman / 2016


VICE Talks Film: Ben Wheatley on the Influence of Architecture and Viral Videos / VICE / 2016

VICE Talks Film: Ben Wheatley on the Influence of Architecture and Viral Videos / VICE / 2016

Time is of the essence / Cold Mailman / André Chocron / 2011

Time is of the essence / Cold Mailman / André Chocron / 2011