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Contrite Haggis Backs Down Over Ballardian Naming Furore

Author: • Mar 13th, 2006 •

Category: Ballardosphere, David Cronenberg, film

Perhaps wary of David Cronenberg’s veiled threat to snare him in a bear trap and skin him alive for dissing JG Ballard, Paul Haggis, director of the ‘other’ Crash, has this to say after his Oscar win (as reported by Martin Knelman):

“After his double triumph at the Academy Awards last Sunday, you might expect Paul Haggis to be cocky. ‘David Cronenberg is a terrific filmmaker, and I respect his talent enormously,’ Haggis said. ‘The last thing I’d want to do is upset him.’

Earlier this week, Cronenberg told my colleague Peter Howell he was distressed because the Academy of Motion Picture Arts not only failed to give any Oscars to Cronenberg’s A History of Violence but made matters worse by giving the Oscar for best picture to a movie that stole the title of his 1996 adaptation of a J.G. Ballard novel.

‘I can understand his feelings,’ says Haggis. ‘If I had half a brain I would have used a better title.’

Many would argue there’s no need for Haggis to apologize. If you do an Internet search for films called Crash, you’ll find not just two of them but about a dozen — including a weird 1977 occult drama in which Jose Ferrer as a jealous handicapped husband tries to kill Sue Lyon as his witchcraft-practising wife.

Indeed, Cronenberg’s 1996 movie is getting some renewed attention at the moment thanks to the high profile of the Haggis picture. It is being shown this month on the premium U.S. cable channel HBO — which rarely airs 10-year-old movies.”

As for Peter Howell’s interview with Cronenberg mentioned above, we see that the ‘Baron of Blood’, as quoted by Howell, has this to say: “Cronenberg wasn’t pleased to be seeing kudos heaped upon a film with the same name as his 1996 auto-sex drama Crash, which garnered a special jury prize at Cannes and six Genie Awards. ‘The whole Crash thing has been very annoying. I’ve let Haggis know that as well,’ Cronenberg said. ‘It’s not a legal issue, it’s an ethical issue. And also I think it’s just plain stupid.’

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  1. […] I basically agree. I think Ballard’s direct influence on music has waned, probably due to less people actually reading books. I have a hard time believing he attained some damning ‘mainstream’ exposure, though. When I mention Ballard to regular people they have no idea who I’m talking about. I mention the film version of Crash, which they will probably now mistake for that piece of crap that came out last year, and there is this foggy recognition, and then a sort of uneasiness that expresses a latent disapproval (’Oh…THAT film.’). I mention Empire of the Sun and then I have to mention Steven Spielberg, and there’s the same sense of dredging up a hazy memory. I have a really hard time believing the new wave of underground artists keeps Ballard at a distance because they think he is too mainstream. I think most of them still don’t know who he is, and if they do they think his stories are just about cutting yourself and having an orgasm. The modern airport defuses…tensions, and offers its passengers the pleasures and social reassurance of the boarding lounge … The concourses are the ramblas and agoras of the future city, time-freeze zones where all the clocks of the world are displayed, an atlas of arrivals and destinations forever updating itself, where briefly we become true world citizens”. —————————————————— – JG Ballard, The Observer (1987) —————————————————— […]

  2. ‘If I had half a brain I would have used a better title.’
    Not much to add.

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