Vinyl (1965)

Genres - Avant-garde / Experimental  |   Run Time - 67 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Six years before Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, Andy Warhol made Vinyl, his own very loose adaptation of the same Anthony Burgess novel. It stars Gerard Malanga as the book's juvenile delinquent hero, though much of his performance consists of either dancing wildly to whatever record happens to be playing, or tied to a chair being tortured. All the action takes place within a mostly static wide shot which is only interrupted when the camera runs out of frame. Denizens of Warhol's "factory" populate the frame, reciting dialogue or performing actions from cue cards when necessary. Edie Sedgwick, who reportedly wasn't even aware she was being filmed, sits in the foreground, oblivious to the action around her. Early on, a character is abducted in the foreground and taken into the murky depths in the back of the frame to be tied up and tortured for the duration of the film. Another character sits silently in a chair off to one side, occasionally bursting into fits of diabolical laughter. By the end, the narrative dissolves completely as Malanga becomes too stoned to even stand up, much less continue his interrogation. This constant movement of the narrative throughout the film's space was one of Warhol's major innovations. The viewer is encouraged to let their eye wander around the frame and become distracted by the insignificant actions of minor characters -- the exact opposite of traditional narrative filmmaking, which uses editing, action, and camera movement to keep the viewer focused on the story at all times. The film's structure dictates how the story is presented (instead of the other way around), and the whims of its bizarre cast constantly threaten to undermine it altogether. Warhol's strategy of reversing the traditional relationship between form and content would later be adapted by "structuralist" filmmakers like Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton, and Ernie Gehr to very different ends.