I am currently researching a piece on the films of J. G. Ballard and I came across what appears to be a rather interesting cinematic feedback loop. In 1996, David Cronenberg adapted Ballard’s 1973 novel Crash. Crash was an expansion of the ideas contained in “Crash!”, one of the sections of Ballard’s splendidly disjointed modernist collection of condensed novels The Atrocity Exhibition (1969).
However, the line between “Crash!” (1969) and Crash (1996) is not that typical of most literary adaptations. Traditionally, the progress of forms is from short story to novel and from novel to film. However, in this case, the line is broken by a cinematic interloper. In between the publication of The Atrocity Exhibition and the publication of Crash (1973), Ballard’s ideas found their way into a short film by Harley Cokliss. Not only starring but also written and narrated by Ballard himself, Crash! (1971) is somewhere between a televised essay, a work of audiovisual art and a traditional short film. It is also quite a distinctive work when compared to its literary precursor and successor. Indeed, by looking at the changes between the different Crash pieces, it is possible to gain an insight into Ballard’s methodologies.