anthony burgess

anthony burgess

\ / ][ |\| y |_ (1965) 2

1d ago
SOURCE  

Description

On perhaps the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of sleekness is Andy Warhol's dirty, ragged Vinyl, his film adaptation of Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange. Fans of Kubrick's version from 6 years later would probably have a hard time at first recognizing the story amid Warhol's static mise-en-scène and the stilted, halting performances of his untrained actors. Factory regular Gerard Malanga plays the lead, Victor, in one of the most hilariously bad performances ever put on film. He sounds like he's auditioning, poorly, for a high school play, and the other actors aren't much better. The exceptionally long takes don't help matters, as flubbed lines and stammers are left in along with blank moments while the actors search for the next bit. Clearly, realism and emotional investment are far from Warhol's mind here; all the actors show about as much interest in the story as they would in a gum wrapper on the street. This disconnection is coupled with Warhol's decision to film the entire thing from a static viewpoint. There are just three shots in the hour-long film, and all the "action" is limited to one tiny corner of a room where all the characters are crammed into the shot. The net effect is that the story becomes curiously flat and affectless, mirroring the numbing of Victor's mind that accompanies his transformation from bad to "good." In Warhol's version of the story, form and content are truly married; if Burgess' story is a parable on the dangers of removing free will, Warhol sets this story in a framework within which the viewer has near-complete freedom. Warhol fills the screen with characters who mostly loll around, acting tough and smoking, dancing, and torturing others. All these activities attain a roughly equal status, and the eye naturally glides around the whole area, taking in what all the different people are doing. Part of this is that the story is so slack, and the attention necessarily wanders at times away from the central action. There's plenty more to occupy the attention besides Victor's story, as Edie Sedgwick lazes seductively off to one side, smoking and dancing, and in the background a pair of thugs systematically beat and torture a man they captured. As the film progresses, this latter bit of action parallels and reinforces the government-sanctioned torture of Victor which rehabilitates him by sapping his free will. Vinyl is a strange and intriguing film which, like most of Warhol's movies, often toes the line between slow and downright boring. This is an alienating, attitude-based cinema, and it provides no easy pleasures. By replacing the conventional narrative drive with a cluttered mise-en-scene of bodies, Warhol achieved unusual effects not often seen in film, and certainly not in the (ostensibly) narrative cinema.