The great Ben Wheatley is back with High-Rise, one of our most anticipated films of 2016. Based on on J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel about a ultra-plush modern luxury high-rise where “the tenants, isolated from the rest of society, fall into class warfare and clash violently between the floors of their building,” the sci-fi thriller stars Tom Hiddleston, Elisabeth Moss, Sienna Miller, and Jeremy Irons.. Wheatley’s adaptation comes after many decades of directors vying for the chance to adapt the novel. As The Paris Review notes:
An aesthetic medium, the cinema seems ill-equipped to convey the density of great prose, to illustrate externally the inner life articulated with nuance by words. Film is bound to a certain literalism: the indexical relationship between the image and what it communicates is direct, unavoidable. A film can’t describe—it can only show.
We refer to this as medium specificity—those qualities which distinguish the art of literature from the art of cinema, as well as from theater, painting, poetry, and so on. When a literary work is adapted as a film, the specificity of the art must be translated: it may be about the same thing, but, to paraphrase Roger Ebert, how it’s about what it’s about needs to be reconceived. Now, a variety of screenwriters and directors have sought to realize a film version of High-Rise since its publication in 1975, including Paul Mayersberg, Nicolas Roeg, and, much more recently, Canadian filmmaker Vincenzo Natali, whose take came perhaps the closest to fruition.
And today, you can see a scintillating new trailer for the film, featuring an evocative new score by the wonderful Clint Mansell.