Vinyl (1965)

“The finished film is disturbing, contains unsimulated violent acts and is not very audience-friendly.” Either a strong disrecommendation or a strong recommendation, depending on your proclivities. And if none of that draws you, maybe the soundtrack including Martha and the Vandellas, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and the The Isley Brothers will. Did Warhol pay to license their songs? Given that he certainly didn’t look into obtaining the rights even to A Clockwork Orange, something inside me doubts it.”

‘Vinyl’, directed by Andy Warhol in 1965, is an experimental American movie based on Anthony Burgess’ novel ‘A Clockwork Orange’. In a room, four people engage in sadomasochism that suggests psychological reconditioning whilst 1960s pop tunes play in the background. It’s not an easy movie to watch or to understand. There is a limited plot and the performances are raw and amateurish. This seems to be the point: the film was made without rehearsal and the characters appear to be engaging with each other spontaneously, reacting to the situation as it happens and with only fragmentary patches of (mostly pretentious) dialogue. There is also a frequent breaking of the fourth wall, to such an extent that the whole idea of the division between creator and the creation is shattered. To this end, actors crew members are name checked as the scenes unfold. All this gives Warhol’s film a distinctive energy, a sense of danger, almost like a snuff movie. It has that same sense of subversiveness as pornography but with a feeling that the boundaries are intended to be breached. It’s an uncomfortable experience to watch the movie, but taken as a piece of performance art it achieves exactly what it sets out to do.

Would I recommend it. Ummm…. Maybe not… Concerning the depiction of BDSM it appears to be more authentic than ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, and has that feeling of edginess that comes from authenticity. I’d watch it in a double bill with the film that takes the performance of BDSM to a different level: Pasolini’s ‘Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom’.

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