Saturday, January 21, 2006

Kubrick and Music

I like the films of director (though auteur seems more appropriate) Stanley Kubrick. I am a fan of his films from the easy fare like 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining to the more obscure stuff like Barry Lyndon and Paths of Glory. His use of music is particularly skillful. Of course, A Clockwork Orange has the most in-your-face presentation of music (the Alla marcia really needed that); however, his other films have clever and intelligent placements in their soundtracks.

Barry Lyndon's leitmotif of Schubert's E-flat piano trio (the Andante con moto) is ironic and sensitive at the same time. The piece comes to mean fate taking its course. Kubrick's glib interstitial cards only further that feel.

The Shining begins with Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique, unfortunately a la Wendy Carlos, foreshadowing the deeply evil nature of the situation in which Jack Torrance will find himself. Turning the droning, repetitive nature of the early Romantic piece into an oppressive hymn of fear certainly comes close to the (alleged) intent of Berlioz.

Full Metal Jacket has a significantly different style of music, and it is somewhat more obviously ironic. Applying the hits of the 50s and 60s to the bloody milieu of Vietnam during the '68 Tet Offensive is a touch too on-the-nose. I don't care for this movie as much as I like other Kubrick films (it's a bit too disjointed, but that might be his point); however, it is a monument to Kubrick's vicious sense of style and sarcasm.

A Kubrick-directed Ring cycle would have been superlative. Compared to butchers like Schlingensief and Kupfer, I can't imagine that he would have done any harm to Wagner's directions.