A disturbing, darkly comic tale of a man who attempts to sever all contact with the outside world, by simply staying at home. As Gerald Ballantyne rids himself of the surface clutter in his...
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Jean-Claude de Nesle
A disturbing, darkly comic tale of a man who attempts to sever all contact with the outside world, by simply staying at home. As Gerald Ballantyne rids himself of the surface clutter in his life he is lead to a startling discovery; a mystery about the house begins to reveal itself, though possibly only in his fevered mind. The changes begin to obsess and take control of Ballantyne, bring his experiment to a chilling climax. Written by
As human beings, it's natural (and, indeed necessary) to believe in the future prosperity of future generations. But in fact, the earth has only finite resources, which we constantly recycle at something less than 100% efficiency; the ultimate unviability of our planet is a logical inevitability, albeit one on a time-frame too large for us to comprehend. Paul Auster, in his book 'The Country of Last Things', imagined a city in which nothing new is ever produced, painting a picture of a world whose own mortality cannot be ignored by its inhabitants (and some saw this as a picture of the concentration camps). In the J.G. Ballard short story on which 'Home' is based, this idea is pushed one step further: a man decides to live off the resources of his own house. The first problem with this idea is that the event horizon is just too close. Even at the start, no-one could hope to survive for long without stepping outside their front door, and there's no social interaction either: this is crucial, because in the 'Country of Last Things', as in Auschwitz, to some extent the survivors feed off those who do not. With the hero denied any possibilities for extending his survival onto anything capable of appearing (from the human perspective) as an indefinite scale, the story is deprived of hope, and left feeling somewhat contrived and silly. Ballard compensates for this by introducing a second idea, that of space as a thing of a fixed size, which the world we know expands or contracts to fit. Thus, as we retreat into a corner, so that corner grows. But the literal representation of this thought is relatively unsubtle.
In Richard Curson-Smith's film, Anthony Sher is excellent as the man who undergoes this peculiar experiment, making the smooth transformation from smug corpulence to visionary mania; and there's lots of black humour as well. But there's a certain thinness to the piece, it's basic concepts exposed and under-dressed; you couldn't watch this and not understand the point. Auster's country is ultimately more interesting.
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