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With 1973's CRASH, I believe Ballard began a track of social examination that leads from his science fiction work of the 1960s to his current speculative fiction novels. The interaction of man and technology is one of Ballard's favorite topics, and here we see the explorations of man and the automobile. With the birth of the freeway, Ballard somehow looks forward, correctly imagining the future role of the car as surrogate partner and habitat for humanity, laboratory of pathology. Vaughn and his black Lincoln are a rolling experiment, blurring the separation of driver and vehicle. Set in London, the story seems to be unconciously channeling the American/Californian car experience, where life is what you live in your car and your house is where you store your belongings. The victim of a car accident, the titular Ballard and his wife Catherine are drawn to Vaughn and his pursuit of the perfect car wreck, trying to expand and explore their own lives in the wake of their experiences following Ballard's crash. A unique psychological exploration, made into an equally excellent movie by David Cronenberg starring Elias Koteas and James Spader, with many passages preserved intact from the original novel.

 "Crash, of course , is not concerned with an imaginary disaster, however imminent, but with a pandemic cataclysm institutionalized in all industrial societies that kills hundreds of thousand of people each years and injures millions. do we wee in the car crash, a sinister portent of a nightmare marriage between sex and technology? Will modern technology provide us with hitherto undreamed of means for tapping our own psychopathologies? Is this harnessing of our innate perversity conceivably of benefit to us? Is there some deviant logic unfolding more powerful than that provided by reason?"

  • excerpt from the Introduction to the French Edition of Crash, J.G. Ballard, 1974 - as included in 1985 Vintage Books paperback edition

Crash - screenplay

Crash - 1996 - video - Rated R

Crash - 1996 - video - Rated NC-17

Director: David Cronenberg. Starring James Spader, Deborah Kara Unger, Elias Koteas, Holly Hunter, Roseanna Arquette. Soundtrack by Howard Shore.

Cronenberg's controversial adaptation of Ballard's 1973 masterpiece Crash. James Spader is James Ballard, a producer of road safety films, who is screwing the camera girl on the side of his marriage to Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger) who seems to fill her days with random sexual encounters to fuel her and her husband's sexual fantasies. A random car accident with Dr. Helen Remington (Holly Hunter) causes Ballard to cross paths with Vaughn. Vaughn is reenacting famous car crashes and studying benevolent psychopathologies among car crash victioms. Roseanna Arquette is a accident-victim turned Vaughn groupie who becomes involved with both Ballard and Remington.

The main difference between the two different cuts of the movie comes down to ten minutes of film, and sex. The R-rated version has abbreviated versions of nearly every sex scene in the movie, plus the entire scene where Ballard and Catherine make love while she asks/tells Ballard of fantasies of him and Vaughn having sex has been cut along with a sexual encounter Catherine and Ballard have in a chair in their own living room following a tryst Ballard has with Remington.

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CRASH audio cassette version
Ballard's Futures Imperfect
j.g. ballard

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j.g. ballard