The evolution of High-Rise, from sketchbook to screen

A visual peek behind the scenes of Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump’s wild J.G. Ballard adaptation.

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Credit: © Ben Wheatley

“We didn’t want it to look like the greatest hits of the 70s, but we didn’t want it to feel alien,” Ben Wheatley tells Neil McGlone in the April 2016 issue of Sight & Sound, discussing the visual design of his and Amy Jump’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s dystopic satire High-Rise. “I wanted to take those bits of the futuristic 70s and the kitsch stuff and make an alternate version of it.”

One of the first things Wheatley did after reading Amy Jump’s script was to imagine the film in 700 drawings. Here, in an exclusive visual tour behind the scenes of the film, is a selection of Wheatley’s watercolours alongside a number of photographs showing the production in progress.

The tower blocks in a still from High-Rise

The tower blocks in a still from High-Rise

Credit: © Ben Wheatley

Tom Hiddleston on set, in his role as Dr Laing

Tom Hiddleston on set, in his role as Dr Laing
Credit: Photography by Aidan Monaghan

Credit: © Ben Wheatley

Credit: © Ben Wheatley

Tom Hiddleston, Ben Wheatley, Luke Evans and James Purefoy on location in a disused leisure centre in Belfast

Tom Hiddleston, Ben Wheatley, Luke Evans and James Purefoy on location in a disused leisure centre in Belfast
Credit: Photography by Aidan Monaghan

Credit: © Ben Wheatley

Credit: © Ben Wheatley

Sienna Miller playing Laing’s neighbour and lover, Charlotte Melville

Sienna Miller playing Laing’s neighbour and lover, Charlotte Melville
Credit: Photography by Aidan Monaghan

Credit: © Ben Wheatley

Credit: © Ben Wheatley

Credit: © Ben Wheatley

Tom Hiddleston and Ben Wheatley on set

Tom Hiddleston and Ben Wheatley on set
Credit: © Ben Wheatley

Credit: © Ben Wheatley

Credit: © Ben Wheatley

High-Rise storyboards pinned to the wall of Ben Wheatley's office

High-Rise storyboards pinned to the wall of Ben Wheatley's office

High-Rise is now on release in UK cinemas. See highrisefilm.co.uk.

 

In the April 2016 issue of Sight & Sound

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Things fall apart

In Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise, an adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel of societal collapse in a 70s tower block, Tom Hiddleston plays an ordinary man forced to take sides when class tensions lead to anarchy. Here the actor reflects on issues of role-playing and identity. By Nick James.

+ Pulling the strings

It took producer Jeremy Thomas 40 years to bring High-Rise to the screen. Below, from the set in Northern Ireland, key members of the team discuss their role in bringing J.G. Ballard’s apocalyptic vision to life. By Neil McGlone.

+ Maverick to mainstream

J.G. Ballard’s work was always laden with cinematic influences, but his own impact on film culture took rather longer to be felt, emerging gradually from the margins of the avant garde. By Roger Luckhurst.

+ review

High-Rise reviewed by Henry K. Miller

 

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  • Sight & Sound: the April 2016 issue

    Sight & Sound: the April 2016 issue

    Tom Hiddleston and the cast and crew of High-Rise talk class and violence past and future – and the rise of cinema’s Ballardian worldview....

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