Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Operamania 101: Only Stanley Kubrick

...could get away with this.

I think everyone has seen or attempted to have seen A Clockwork Orange growing up.

A rather disturbing and subversive little movie by director Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange follows a group of psychopathic delinquents' reign of terror in a small English town. The gang, calling themselves the Droogs, is fronted by Alex Delarge, played by the charismatic Malcolm McDowell. Alex, for all his leanings towards violence, surprisingly fancies classical music, particularly Beethoven.

The movie makes use of not one but 2 of Gioachino Rossini's operatic works.

One is the William Tell Overture used when Alex is having "relations" with 2 young devotchkas whom he picks up at a record store.

The other is the overture from La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie), which is played twice in the movie.

The first when the Droogs start a brawl with a rival gang.

And then when one Droog tries to challenge Alex for leadership of the gang and then gets shown the what's what.

Not for the faint of heart, although I did like the bowler hats, eyeliner, suspenders and cockney rhyming slang, A Clockwork Orange remains an iconic film by the bizarre genius that was Kubrick. It is definitely worth viewing, if only just to see how classical music and famous songs such as Singing in the Rain are used in ways one would've never imagined.

Which begs the question: what would Rossini, Beethoven and Gene Kelly have thought about all this?

~ Ling Chan

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