Sunday, June 5, 2016

The High Rise to Destruction

As we made our way to Imperial College to watch a screening of High-Rise, students of the London rocks program were in for a surprise. The film High-Rise, inspired from the novel written by J.G. Ballard, and directed by Ben Wheatley, is a story about residents in a tower block who head towards the path of destruction. The gruesome images and chaotic events in this film goes well in the category of a fantasy-thriller. Every character in the film has a clear fantasy of what they want in their life but deal with things that hinder them from getting it. The author of this novel did an excellent job showing what the world would look like when things do not always work out.

Many of us are familiar with the world utopia, which was first used in 1516 by Sir Thomas Moore who was the first person to write about utopia. When we think of utopia, we think of it as a perfect place where nothing can go wrong. The film High-Rise would be an example of a dystopia, which is the opposite of utopia, where everything goes wrong. The meaning of dystopia, according to Merriam-Webster is," an imaginary place where people are unhappy and usually afraid because they are not treated fairly". The film does a good job showing the lives of each character and how they are controlled by different people which stops them from getting what they want. There are four different types of dystopian controls, which prevent us from this perfect world, The controls are corporate, bureaucratic, technological, and philosophical/religious. These controls are what interfere the perfect image we have for the society.

The film High-Rise did an excellent job making the audience members feel sick in the stomach as they left the theatre. After watching the film, people had to take a few moments to return back to the reality that we are living in now. The cinematography was amazing yet very disturbing for an audience member to watch. One of the images in the film that was the most disturbed was when Richard decides to finally get what he wants with Helen. He comes to her home with a face full of blood and starts walking towards her. She then starts to back away from him and eventually is dragged across the floor by Richard, into the room. Then we see a medium shot of Richard sitting at a table as Helen comes in with a can of chili for him to eat. The scene does not get any better as Richard's face is still bloody and now Helen's face is covered with bruises and blood.

Another shot that we see in High-Rise that has the audience in shock would be when Helen, Richard's wife, is carried violently by some men. The fact that she was carried away was not the worst part but it was that she was pregnant and could have her baby any moment. In our society, we have an image of a pregnant woman to be very fragile because she is carrying a baby. The image of these men dragging poor Helen was very provoking because that is not how a pregnant woman should be treated. At the end of the scene, we are left wondering what they are going to do with her and if the baby will make it. High-Rise was surely not a story that was meant to have a happy ending. The film did a great job giving us a glimpse of what life can turn into if we are not careful.

Dystopia   Utopia

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