“Architectures of Control”: Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise (2015)

by Nandia Foteini Vlachou

On Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise (2015), published in Blind Field – A Journal of Cultural Inquiry.

Foteini Vlachou

“The spectacular view always made Laing aware of his ambivalent feelings for this concrete landscape. Part of its appeal lay all too clearly in the fact that this was an environment built, not for man, but for man’s absence.”[1]

Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise (2015), adapted from J. G. Ballard’s novel of 1975, is a film about the influence of architecture on human behavior and the possibility of controlling or determining the latter via the former. Although the expression ‘architectures of control’ was used to discuss the design of the internet (and the possibility of regulating it) and cyberspace technology,[2] it could reasonably apply in the context of the film. In a high-rise building of the early 70s, a brutalist block rising ominously amidst vast flat surfaces, the residents slowly and incomprehensibly descend into a chaos of irrational behavior and unjustified violence, that overturns a superficially serene social order.

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