Thursday, December 4, 2014

"Singin' in the Rain"

The auto-da-fe in Chapter 6 (p. 194) reminds me of the infamous "Singin' in the Rain" scene in the Stanley Kubrick movie adaptation of Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange. A Clockwork Orange is best known for its dystopian setting, commentary on behaviorism and juvenile delinquency, argot (Nadsat), and extreme violence. In Kubrick's movie, the violent depiction of the crimes of the protagonist, Alex DeLarge, and his gang earned the film an "X" rating in the US and removal from the British market. The "Singing' in the Rain" scene shows Alex's gang of "droogs"(as they are referred to as in Nadsat) engaging in "ultra-violence" against a writer and the writer's wife. They permanently cripple the writer and brutally rape his wife while cheerily singing "Singin' in the Rain," hence the title of the scene. All of this is shown on camera with no cutaways or silhouettes to cushion the emotional impact of the scene. Though it's not anywhere near as violent as Clockwork, Candide has some similar elements in its depiction of crime and punishment. It makes constant references to heinous crimes (especially sexual violence) where the criminals are never punished, and Candide's flogging at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition in time with the music closely parallels Clockwork. The desensitization present in both works is terrifying, especially if you see the works of fiction as a reflection of society's attitudes.

Disclaimer: For obvious reasons I won't post a clip of the scene, but I thought it was an important comparison to bring up. I would definitely caution you about watching Kubrick's film as it is rated "X" (even though an "R" cut was later released) and incredibly disturbing.

1 comment:

Joe D said...

If you all haven't read the book by Burgess, it's absolutely worth the time. Burgess essentially created a new variant of the English language for Alex and his droogs, called "Nadsat." The word is very close to the Russian word for "thirteen" (phonetically, "nadtsat"). Thinking on it, several picaresque literary works use neologisms to add an air of verisimilitude, draw special attention to an event or concept, etc. Such works include "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "Gulliver's Travels," and "Candide."
In "Travels," Swift uses the invented worlds of Brobdingnag and Lilliputia to make satirical points about governance. These words were soon incorporated into the English language as "brobdingnagian" and "lilliputian," and they describe size or intensity (also two of my favorite words).
In "Finn," Twain contrasts dialects (for instance, Miss Watson and Jim) to make points about class (and, in the end, that the poor and uneducated can indeed teach valuable lessons about life).
Finally, Volaire definitely uses some new words to inject satirical humor into "Candide" ("metaphysicotheologocosmolonigology" comes to mind).
So, perhaps this could be a "Pacaresque Convention," if you will.
Returning to "A Clockwork Orange," some of the violence in the book is not present in the film. In my opinion, Burgess's book has more of a chilling effect than does Kubrick's film partly for this reason. And that's saying a lot, considering Kubrick is my second favorite actor behind David Fincher.

What's it going to be then, eh?