J G Ballard’s Crash: On Page and Screen

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Revisit the shock of symphorophilia with Will Self and Chris Beckett, editor of a new edition of Crash. Their discussion is followed by a rare chance to see the uncut version of David Cronenberg’s 1996 film adaptation on the big screen.

David Cronenberg’s film of Crash (1996), which Ballard greatly admired, was awarded a Special Jury Prize at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. The film introduced a second generation to Ballard’s unsettling vision, and sparked a censorship controversy that led to the film being banned by Westminster City Council.

A new and expanded edition of the novel Crash (2017), edited by Chris Beckett, takes a fresh look at the novel by setting the narrative in its writing context. Drawing on Ballard’s archive at the British Library, it includes generous selections from the novel in draft, re-publishes Ballard’s contemporaneous ‘condensed novels’, and makes available for the first time Ballard’s draft script for the BBC short film Crash! (1971) directed by Harley Cokeliss. The film was made as Ballard drafted Crash, and its stylised visual language informs the novel.

Also included in the new edition is Ballard’s introduction to the French publication of Crash (1974) in which he described the novel as a ‘a cautionary tale’. However, in an interview with Will Self in 1994, Ballard said that had been wrong in his introduction: ‘Crash is not a cautionary tale. Crash is what it appears to be. It is a psychopathic hymn. But it is a psychopathic hymn which has a point.’

This event is part of Banned Books Week, an international celebration of the freedom to read.

BBFC rating
Running time
210 mins
Canada, UK
David Cronenberg
James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas

Book tickets

September 30th

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