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New Film High-Rise Explores The Symbolism and Terror of Tower Living

The novel begins with a truly surreal opening line—"later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog"—and the story explores a societal breakdown similar to of-the-moment entertainment franchises such as The Walking Dead. But in J.G. Ballard's 1975 High-Rise, the subject of a new film adaptation starting to make the festival rounds this month, the enemy isn't some virus or the undead. The residents of a new London high-rise slowly regress and devolve into tribal infighting not due to some outside force altering their environment, but because of the environment itself. The tower becomes a character in the story, written as a symbol of the meticulous (and ultimately very fragile) class systems built up by society. Based on the British novelist's observations about human behavior, it's a celebrated piece of science fiction. But it also functions as an examination of the symbolism attached to certain strains of modern architecture, and the buildings we inhabit.

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