Thanks to Mike Holliday for finding this 1995 interview.
J.G. Ballard's Crash - An Interview With The Author
By James Call
Crash, the movie, is already stirring controversy -- even before its release. I saw it at a press screening last July in anticipation of an October release date. A few weeks later I called Fineline, the distributor, and they told me that the release date had been pushed back to March. A delay of six months! “Why?” I asked. Frankly, I was astonished.
This film is intense, unusual -- groundbreaking. Its showing at Cannes last summer was widely touted in Europe and it received a special jury prize for “audacity, daring and originality.” “It's felt that the film will receive a wider audience if it's not up against the holiday big-gun releases.” “Hmmm,” I thot, “I guess that makes sense.” But it still seemed weird. Then almost immediately the rumors began, unconfirmed but persistent, of a heavy handed attempt by Ted Turner to squelch the film entirely. That he found the film to be so revolting he threw his Ted Turner clout into an effort to prevent its release at all. Whether or not the story is true, it still seems indicative of some of the reaction this film is likely to receive. Sex, severe injury and violent death have never been thrown together in film in such a fiercely bizarre, yet matter of fact fashion. Director David Cronenberg betrays no qualms about its NC-17 rating.
A Twist Logic
Of all the things to get hung up on sexually, car crashes gotta take some kinda prize. This isn't ice cubes or spanking. And try as I might I couldn't do it. Both sex and getting in car wrecks are extreme sensations, so I guess I can kinda see how someone could get them tangled up together. And come to think of it, next to hanging and electricity, car crashes begin to seem... well, maybe. As you follow the protagonist, James Ballard (oddly enuff the author's name), and are drawn into playtime with this car-crash-lovin' group, the aesthetic begins, remarkably, to feel like an aesthetic. And even if you are not persuaded this could be your bag, it is certain that these folks are deep into something.
Steven Speilberg filmed another Ballard book a few years back, Empire Of The Sun, Ballard's autobiographical “novelization” of his own experiences in a Japanese internment camp in Shanghai at the end of World War II. He spent 3 years there, emerging at age 15 and returning to England at that time with his family. This straightforward and unsensational telling of a remarkable true story, faithfully filmed (remarkably) by Spielberg, doesn't much prepare you for Crash. Empire... was something of a departure for Ballard when he wrote it. He returned to this slightly fictionalized style recently for The Kindness Of Women which continues the novelization of his life and picks up after his family's return to England. It chronicles his departure from medical school as he devotes himself in the mid 50s to the writing of science fiction. Typical Ballard sci-fi begins with a mundane story in an utterly fantastic setting. You may be fooled early on into thinking that it will be simply a people-respond-to-an-unusual-situation story, as a lot of sci-fi is. However, just when you are comfortable with that notion an escalation of the unexpected builds to a crescendo of strange plot twists and stranger characters. But even in Ballard's early sci-fi we still don't have much of a preview of the world of Crash. It isn't until the 60s and we begin to see titles popping up in Ballard's bibliography like The Assassination Of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered As A Downhill Motor Race, Tolerances Of The Human Face, The Atrocity Exhibition, and Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan that we get a real glimpse of the Ballard who it is that finally welcomes us to his nightmare in Crash -- where car crashes are idealized as special events -- rituals even. Ballard heightens our involvement in these events with an insidious prose. Neither horrified nor reverential, Ballard's detailed descriptions of the damage sustained by the cars and the injuries sustained by the victims is in a flat, clipped, almost textbook, expository style. Indeed, Ballard has stated that his main writing influence may be Grey's Anatomy, a standard reference book he would have been much exposed to as a med student. Another influence, one more specific to Crash, is a medical text on trauma called Crash Injuries.
The movie has been called depraved. The book was published over twenty years ago to similar controversy. It was damned and championed as the film is now. Ballard begins the interview with a comment on how he feels Cronenberg captures the book:
[JGB] I think it's extremely faithful to the spirit and letter of the book. It catches the mood. I think as you read the book, what you see in your mind, as it were, is Cronenberg's film. I think it's a masterpiece of cinema -- highly original.
[JC] That indeed was my feeling. I did read the book several years ago and my impression as I sat there watching the film... was that the feeling I got... was nearly exactly that that I got from the book. And it's a bit of a queasy feeling.
[JGB] My sentiments entirely. I haven't read the book for 20 years. Too frightening!... I first saw it in London. I wrote the book in 1972. I think it was published in '73. I saw it at a preview theater a few weeks before Cannes. The moment it ended someone turned to me and said, “Well, what do you think of it?” And I said -- quite spontaneously - “It made me feel young again!” But it's a very powerful film. I think it's Cronenberg's best film.
[JC] I think there are many of your books that would take well to film.
[JGB] Well, that's what I've always said. Fortunately, two of the greatest film makers working -- well, I'd say in North America -- Spielberg and Cronenberg, have picked on books of mine. I'm very grateful.
[JC] Once again, Empire Of The Sun, I both enjoyed the book and the film.
[JGB] Oh, the film was excellent! Far better, I have to say, than most American cineasts and film critics allowed themselves to feel. They just didn't believe Spielberg was capable of a serious film about war -- particularly from a civilian point of view with all of its ambiguities. In fact, he did a very good job.
[JC] Absolutely. That was my feeling, too. Now Crash presented a different array of cinematic problems. Were you involved in the process of selecting a director at all?
[JGB] No, not at all.
[JC] What a happy accident then.
[JGB] It was, wasn't it. Jeremy Thomas, the British producer who produced Bertolucci's The Last Emperor; he also produced The Sheltering Sky, the Paul Bowles adaptation. And he was the producer, of course, of Naked Lunch. He's had a very good track record of producing difficult novels. He took an option on Crash. It was he who found David Cronenberg.
[JC] Now I remember reading something, well over ten years ago, when a movie of Crash was being discussed. I'm wondering if that was the thread that resulted in the film we see today or was that something that had been picked up and dropped or... ?
[JGB] I've been very lucky. Crash has been under option, more or less continuously, since it was published. Don't get me wrong -- initially it was by European film companies. In money terms the options were very modest. Nonetheless, it did have, you know, people in the film world interested. Nick Roeg at one point. He was very close to raising the finance. But, of course -- I don't know how old you are, but um...
[JC] I'm 48.
[JGB] Ah, good. I'm glad to hear that. To be interviewed by young -- bright, very bright young people on both sides of the Atlantic, in their mid-twenties who think the world has always been sort of as open as it is now.
[JC] Yes, I remember a very different world.
[JGB] Even 10 years ago. The climate was different. And certainly 15 to 20 years ago.
[JC] I must say, in the 70s I was a projectionist in a porno theater.
[JGB] What a wonderful upbringing.
[JC] Well, it was. And in America it was the film Deep Throat and the litigation it brought -- in ‘72, I believe -- that opened things up. People who discover the difference between sex in film before and after are amazed.
[JGB] Oh, yeah, the climate is totally changed. Back in the 70s when people were trying to set up Crash to film, I can well understand them getting absolutely nowhere. They're pretty scared even now. Whether the film will ever be shown in England I don't know.
[JGB] Well... I don't know. I'm not up to the minute... on the details. A leading film critic who walked out -- British film critic, Alexander Walker; writes for the London Evening Standard -- he walked out of the Crash press conference in disgust. He went back to London and he wrote a piece saying Crash was the most depraved film ever made!
[JC] What a great piece of... press!
[JGB] The distributor suddenly got interested again. Well, you don't realize how censored England is. The sort of films you can rent in your local video rental store would be unthinkable here. We don't have access to the sort of hardcore -- well, I hate the word pornography because it has such negative connotations. In fact, I am a libertarian and as long as it doesn't infringe the law I don't see why...
[JC] Well, that seems obvious to me as well.
[JGB] That isn't the case in England. You can't rent hardcore videos. Films are heavily censored -- minutes cut out of the film. We have a British board of film censors, a panel of worthies, who take the scissors -- many American films -- Reservoir Dogs had to wait a long time. Natural Born Killers, I'm not sure it's ever been shown here. It hasn't gone to video. People here are very jumpy. Curious. The odd thing, thinking about Cronenberg's Crash, one has the impression afterwards the film is saturated with sex and violence. But in fact there is not all that much of either. I mean, it's a sort of virtual pornography that exists in the mind. Let's take the simulated sex -- which is all it is -- the simulated sex in Crash is modest by comparison with, say, the simulated sex in the Sharon Stone, Douglas film, Basic Instinct... or... the film that Madonna made, whose name I forget, recently... or... going back some years let's take the simulated sex between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in Don't Look Now. Mild by comparison and mild by the standard of most mainstream Hollywood movies. The car crashes are very realistic. You don't see any buicks cartwheeling thru the air in slow motion crashing into, you know, firetrucks. They're over and treated very circumstantially. What it is unsettling is the conjunction between the two. Purely ideological. The ideology of the film is what frightens people into thinking they're watching a sort of pornographic feast. That's what unsettles them. The idea. It's a sort of virtual pornography in a curious way.
[JC] There is more sex, more descriptions of sex in the book than in the film.
[JGB] That's true.
[JC] Of course, a visual depiction of sex has a greater impact.
[JGB] Yes it does. You don't need to go so far.
[JC] ... to achieve a similar effect. Is that what Cronenberg probably did?
[JGB] I think that's true. There are limits, of course, to how far you can go. I mean, you know as well as I do if you are going to get public viewing in your neighborhood theater you can't show a male sexual organ. And so on. I think the film is frightening because of what appears to be its basic message. But still, let's see how the Americans take it.
[JC] That's another thing. Just what kind of numbers-? It's NC-17. David Cronenberg is very comfortable with that rating. I liked his comment that it's just a dialogue that adults should be able to have with one another. And the fact that there has only been three NC-17 films released is stunning.
[JGB] It's extraordinary!
[JC] At presupposes that all films should be made for the consumption of children. How silly.
[JGB] I agree with you.
[JC] So I'm wondering what that might do to attendance figures.
[JGB] Well, I don't suppose -- I mean, films like Crash never reach a mass audience. One wouldn't expect them to. I hope it reaches a discriminating, intelligent audience.
[JC] Well, I guess your books do. There is an avid... underground following for your writing -- but it's not a large one in my perception. Am I wrong?
[JGB] On no! That's absolutely right. There is a difference also between book and film. I'm a foreign writer as far as anyone in the states... Whereas Cronenberg, even as a Canadian, is sort of working within the North American, if you like, American... tradition. You've got American characters, American settings and American cars. So I hope that will make the... Maybe the whole thing should have been filmed by a Japanese, um... I don't know.
[JC] [laffing] I could imagine... Actually there is a film, a Japanese film that gave me a similar... well I use this word queasy again. It was called Realm Of The Senses if you are familiar.
[JC] I think it was the idea of them having sex and her waving that knife around.
[JGB] Right right. Right right. Right.
[JC] Well, your American publishing track record seems a little spotty.
[JGB] I'm sorry to say it is. But I've been published by some excellent publishers. It's difficult -- unless you fit into an obvious genre or niche it's difficult to get to book sellers and publishers and critics and readers. “Who is he? Is he science fiction, in my case, or is he something else? Is he a surrealist?” So I live for the day when a large American audience responds to my stuff with enthusiasm. But meanwhile, I satisfy myself that there are a few intelligent readers that have been keen on it and I'm grateful to them.
[JC] The REsearch books on you probably helped.
[JGB] Yes, they've done extremely well. Of course they are remarkable books -- the whole series. They're superb. I think Vale and Andrea Juno, who sadly have now split up -- the two editors -- they did a remarkable job right from the early days when they produced that sort of counter culture paper, Search And Destroy. The only counter culture paper -- and we had dozens in England -- the only one you could sit down and actually read. It was just full of interesting anthropological stuff. And their books took off from there. They are... social anthropology. The anthropology of contemporary American cities. They are a remarkable series. And of course the two books they did of mine are superb.
[JC] I'm wondering, you know; children playing cars crash them repeatedly. You've mention your own experiences at the car crash derbies in Shanghai and my father took me to crash derbies as a kid myself. Is there any relationship to that fascination and what you are writing about in Crash?
[JGB] It's just possible. You know, the car crash as entertainment spectacle. Does touch a nerve. It may have done. I don't know, I think it just grew out of my awareness in the 1960s... when the automobile culture really arrived in the world at large. You know, the automobile culture that Americans have had since the 1920s really, arrived in Europe in the 1960s. Mass ownership of the motorcar. Motorways were being built for the first time. The whole car culture had come into being with everything that went with it; dating and sex in cars -- suddenly became a part of the global way of life. I noticed that famous people who died in car crashes like Dean and Jayne Mansfield and Albert Camus and of course, the greatest of them all, Kennedy -- you can see the motorcade assassination as a special kind of car crash -- I noticed that famous people who died in car crashes, their deaths had a resonance that wasn't present in the case of famous people who died in, say, plane crashes or hotel fires, or whatever. The car did lend a certain sort of drama and mystery. It was evident in all the films and TV shows one saw. Again the car crash had a special significance. What? I was curious. You know, I speculated about that. Of course, the reasons aren't too hard to find. Obviously, most of us drive cars. We're aware of the elements of aggression and competitiveness, the presence of a certain sort of sexual drive, also playing with death in many ways. If we overtake slightly too dangerously, we are risking our lives. Looking at the death of say, James Dean -- of anybody in a car crash, there is this curious resonance which I set out to explore. I took what I think of as a scientific approach. “Let's assume the worst.” Extreme hypothesis. And Crash is an extreme hypothesis. It deals with an extreme sort of mystery. I don't think -- people think that I think -- but I don't think, you know, car crashes are sexually fulfilling. I've been in one myself. Believe me! What I'm saying in the book, and I think Cronenberg is saying too, the idea of car crashes is sexually exciting. Now that's a very different kettle of fish. It's the idea that we respond to when we see films and think about James Dean and... so on. It seems to me that the image of the car crash taps this very sort of murky layer of our minds... which for the most part we suppress all recognition of just as we suppress the notion that human beings are inherently violent. And they certainly are. Just go to Bosnia today or a dozen other trouble spots. I mean, people say “Why on earth...?” Looking back over four years of war in the former Yugoslavia -- how can people behave so appallingly to each other? People always have done.
[JC] Now here's something I'm curious about and I don't know if you can answer this, but as this idea came into your mind of pairing sex with the car crash, was it, do you know, more of an intellectual pairing or more of an intuitive pairing?
[JGB] I'd like to think it was -- it was an intuition. I was making a guess. I started writing the book in 1970, but I'd been thinking about it for many years before that. That collection that the REsearch people did called The Atrocity Exhibition actually contains a piece called Crash!, a pseudo-scientific journal paper speculating on these very things. So I had been thinking about it a lot. In 1969 at the New Arts Laboratory -- a sort of high water mark of sixties swinging London and all the rest of it -- in their gallery I put on an exhibition of crashed cars. I had three cars that I found in car breakers yards that they towed to the gallery. Fortunately the gallery was on the ground floor -- a large gallery.
[JC] Did you look for particular kinds of cars?
[JGB] I wanted an American car. I had this wonderful 1950s Pontiac, this sort of space-age trim, wrap-around windshield, rocket. It had been in a huge front end collision. Most of the car -- the cabin was completely intact. Then I had two European cars that had been in crashes. I had the three of them in the gallery under gallery lighting but no explanatory material, nothing else. I sent out invitations to all the art critics and all the sort of sixties people, the demi-mond - just calling it New Scotch by J. G. Ballard. I arranged -- it was an innovation at the time -- I arranged for a closed circuit television system. Very new then. I recruited a young woman to interview the guests... naked. She would be naked. So they would be interviewed against a background of crashed cars by this naked young woman on closed circuit TV. Now the idea was to create a total sort of sensory imaginative overload. I was using the format of an art exhibition as a psychological test. It's interesting when the young woman arrived before the show opened that evening -- she was clothed of course -- she took one look at the cars and she turned to me and said, “I won't appear naked. I'll only appear topless.” I thought that's an interesting response. Think about the psychology of that, I ask you! She carried out -- she interviewed people topless on television. The opening party -- I'd been to dozens over the years -- degenerated into a drunken brawl, the like of which I'd never seen! The poor woman...
[JC] Not your typical wine and cheese...
[JGB] It was intended to be but it turned into a complete riot. Bottles broken across the cars. Wine everywhere. The young woman was almost sort of raped in the back seat of the Pontiac. The exhibition was on show for a month and during that time the cars were continuously attacked by people who came into the gallery. Wing mirrors torn off. All windows broken. One of the smaller European cars was overturned. A huge nervousness of hostility was vented on these cars... which wouldn't have been even noticed had they been parked in the street outside on the back of a truck. I thot there's something going on. This experiment, which I considered had a satisfactory outcome, confirmed me in my hunches. And I then sat down to write Crash.
[JC] I have an idea that when the book came out in England there was a popular - no, pop underground reaction to it. I remember that song, Warm Leatherette.
[JGB] Yes, that was written by Curtis of Joy Division, Ian Curtis of Joy Division.
[JC] He wrote that, huh? Wasn't it Daniel Miller that performed it tho?
[JGB] I can't remember that but I think Ian Curtis wrote it. It was based on Crash. Grace Jones did it later. [editor's note: Curtis wrote “The Atrocity Exhibition” based on Ballard's book of the same name. Miller wrote “Warm Leatherette” based on “Crash” and performed it as The Normal.] I think it's true that Crash did have a small underground following. But I think conventional literary people on both sides of the Atlantic found the book at the time very -- I know the publisher's reader, at the English publishers, was the wife of a psychiatrist and she wrote a report -- a reader's report -- saying the author of this book is beyond psychiatric help. I thot at the time, “My god, to be beyond psychiatric help represents total artistic success!”
[JC] [laffing] You probably are beyond psychiatric help.
[JGB] I hope so. The book was published. It has taken a long time for whatever merits it has to filter through. The resistance to this sort of thing is so strong. Oddly enough, the one country where it was openly embraced was France. There it was actually a best seller. One of the very few -- apart from Empire Of The Sun -- one of the very few books of mine that actually sold well. The French -- and if you've ever driven in France you know why -- because the French are the most dangerous drivers in the world unless you go to somewhere, you know, like Thailand or god knows where to find equally dangerous drivers. The French power and aggression and sexuality are very much present. The French will openly say so. I say Crash did well in France. They'll say, “Of course!” The book caught on there in a big way. It's taken 20 years but people have begun accept that it's a serious piece of fiction -- serious piece of imaginative fiction. A lot of people were just repelled when the book first came out. It wasn't altogether a coincidence that it did well in France. There, unlike the United States and Great Britain, the French have this long tradition of serious works of fiction using explicit -- I won't say pornographic --using explicitly sexual elements, particularly sexual fantasy. You go back all the way to the Marquis de Sade and on into the 19th century and into the 20th century with people like George Batille and Genet and... um, The Story Of O, et cetera. French writers have always had this tradition of what we would call pornographic elements.
[JC] A good deal of the surrealist writing comes from France.
[JGB] And of surrealist writing too! We've never had that. I mean, this is true of the states as well as over here. We had major trials. I think our last trial was the Last Exit To Brooklyn trial in the 1960s, following along from the D.H. Lawrence... Lady Chatterley's... also went to trial here. And after all, in the states you had similar trials.
[JC] Plenty. So yeah, we do have that same kind of...
[JGB] Puritan tradition.
[JC] And it still goes. You know, I think the sex in Crash is really... substantial.
[JGB] In the film.
[JC] Yes. Highly effective and highly erotic and... more graphic than Americans are going to be used to seeing.
[JGB] Yeah. Very stylishly done, of course.
[JGB] I think between them James Spader and Debra Unger gave wonderful performances.
[JC] Oh my god, yes!
[JGB] Without taking anything away from Holly Hunter and Elias Koteas and Rosanna Arquette, all of whom gave great performances. But I think Spader -- Spader playing me -- and as his wife, Debra Unger, they sort of represent ordinary humanity.
[JC] I probably most enjoyed Spader's acting in the film; his sort of wide-eyed, just being drawn by this fantastic idea.
[JGB] He does a wonderful job.
[JC] Absolutely! Well, they all really pretty much nail the -- and of course, Vaughan! A central character. But the character of Vaughan in the book and even in the movie is more ambiguous to me than Ballard's.
[JGB] Absolutely. In the book -- and in the film -- in the book, the narrator is describing his induction into this strange new logic. A logic that Vaughan has already embraced. And Vaughan, he's the... guiding angel steering everyone towards the new promised land. He's a very unsettling character and meant to be. I thought Holly Hunter did a great job in a smaller role. Very powerfully done. And Rosanna Arquette.
[JC] It seems they all had to bring things out of themselves that we've never seen before.
[JGB] I think they did. From what I've heard -- I talked to them at great length at Cannes -- we did everything together -- but they all took it very very seriously.
[JC] Did you talk to them before shooting?
[JGB] No, I didn't. I'm sorry about that. But I didn't need to. They apparently...
[JC] It seems.
[JGB] Also they had this highly intelligent director, Cronenberg, who clearly wasn't out to sensationalize. It's to his credit he tackled this very difficult book and did it in an unsensational way.
[JC] And what a huge mistake it would have been to do it in a sensational way as the temptation would have been for many directors.
[JGB] Absolutely. You can imagine what Brian de Palma would have done. I mean, I like his movies. But Cronenberg was the very best.
[JC] When I first heard -- and there was a certain amount of trepidation about the movie, I had had such a strong feeling for the book -- but when I first heard Cronenberg was doing it I thot, “Hmmm, yes that does make sense.” Are there any other films that we might look forward to from your books?
[JGB] I've been lucky that a lot of my books have been optioned... for... for... many many years. I wrote a novella called Running Wild about children who inexplicably murder their parents.
[JC] I've read that and that seemed - that felt like TV to me, as I read it.
[JGB] Well, it's so close to real life.
[JC] The long descriptions, from house to house, of the crime scenes, felt like TV.
[JGB] Right. Because we see crimes, inevitably in real life, in their aftermath. And in a way it sort of has -- well, I won't say similarities, but it touches taboos the way that Crash does. You know, uh... “How could children kill their parents? Oh, God!” But, of course, it's happening every day.
[JC] Yes. Oh well, yes, we have that famous trial still running.
[JGB] What, the Menendez Brothers?
[JC] The Menendez Brothers, right.
[JGB] It's inexplicable. You can't believe it. There the motive was greed, as far as I can see, reading about the first trial. But the children in Running Wild are driven mad by surfeit of solomonic wisdom, kindness. People need the rough and tumble -- the ruffage, as is were, of ordinary emotion. I hope they make that into a film.
[JC] Oh yes. You know in some of your early science fiction writing, one that suggested a TV series to me was Vermillion Sands. The imagery is so beautiful in that -- those bat ray things floating in the air in the desert. Such a strong image. It's all so beautiful. And it's a string of only vaguely related stories set in the same fantastic locale.
[JGB] Well, next time you talk to the head of Warner Bros....
[JC] [laffing] Yes!
[JGB] It's very difficult because fantasy... doesn't -- I know there is a huge amount of -- the Terminator films are fantasy. They are presented very realistically in a way. Pure fantasy is difficult for film makers to grasp.
[JC] I'm wondering about the state of science fiction right now. It seems it has moved in the direction of pure fantasy.
[JGB] Yes I think it has. I'm no expert on this, by the way. I haven't written any science fiction in oh a great many years. I started writing science fiction in the mid 50s when it was very much a sort of realist medium by comparison with today. The sort of people who were writing then, the American writers and their British equivalents were writing in a much more realistic -- you know, there was a keen element of sociological curiosity about them. Present trends and where they might lead. Society at large and so on and so forth. Now all that's gone.
[JC] Well, even when a writer would move into utterly fantastic areas -- well, time travel -- like Phillip K. Dick, it was grounded tho in a convincing reality.
[JGB] Absolutely. But all that's gone. Now it's all sort of souped up planet yarns, star wars, super special effects. Not for me but obviously enormously popular. The world has moved on.
[JC] Which is fine. It will.
[JGB] We've got so many elements of former science fiction in our lives right now. Science and technology sort of permeate our lives. You don't need something called Science Fiction, strictly speaking, anymore. Or not to the same extent.
[JC] Right. But there is in literature a paucity of imagination, imaginative writing.
[JGB] I agree.
[JC] Great possibilities for literature suggested by some of the science fiction writers of the 50s and 60s that are being ignored. Possibilities that I'm happy to say I believe are realized in your writing. To me Crash, tho set in the present, is highly imaginative -- parallel world -- surreal. I find Crash surreal.
[JGB] Well, the surrealists have always been a big influence on me. No question about that. The trouble is of course, that when people think -- I admire the surrealists, painters in particular -- but most people are too unsettled to face up to the surrealist imagination. They want everyday naturalism. They want to feel that what they are watching moves seamlessly from their own lives.
[JC] They all experience the alternative in their dreams tho.
[JGB] I know, I know. That's the curious thing. I love it when the imagination is genuinely touched. It's a wonderful moment.