BAMcinématek’s Beyond the Canon—Les Saignantes + A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange along with Les Saignantes. Photos courtesy Warner Bros. / Quartier Mozart Films

This specific can be no secret that will the cinema canon has historically skewed toward lionizing the white, male auteur. This specific monthly series seeks to question that will history along with broaden horizons by pairing one much-loved, highly regarded, canonized classic (A Clockwork Orange) which has a thematically or stylistically-related—along with equally brilliant—work (Les Saignantes) by a filmmaker traditionally excluded via that will discussion.

By Violet Lucca

There’s youthful indiscretion, along with then there’s the darkly comic delinquency on display in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange along with Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s Les Saignantes (The Bloodettes), which has the ability to turn the entire world upside down. With titles that will associate their young protagonists which has a subversive juiciness, both films comment upon the present through fiction set inside future. In these artful visions of “the same however worse,” ineffectual, corrupt governments have overstretched themselves to the point of controlling the brains along with bodies of their citizens—solutions that will solve nothing at all. Although one openly lampoons the failed utopianism of Welfare State Behaviorism along with the additional covertly carves out dissent inside a post-colonial kleptocracy, This specific’s the violence, sexiness, quick-wittedness, along with wildness of youth that will breaks down these zombified orders.

For a Great-looking psychopath like little Alexander DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), a happy ending means a future of even more screwing along with knifings than before. Kubrick’s film has almost completely subsumed the Anthony Burgess novel on which This specific’s based largely because of its unrepentant nihilistic slant, iconic costumes, along with suave savagery. (This specific’s also a slightly less daunting proposition than the book: Nadsat, an Anglicized variation of Russian that will Burgess used for teenage slang, has scared away plenty of readers.)

Les Saignantes. Photo courtesy Quartier Mozart Films

Coming off the glow of the moon landing, This specific vision of a run-down future was borderline heretical. We see Alex go via ruthless, fashionable street hoodlum to experimental aversion therapy victim to being on the Minister of the Indoor’s payroll—a coming-of-age-tale about someone who doesn’t have feelings like the rest of us do. This specific disjunction can be ripe for comedy, along with can be something the writer-director plays up through an array of style choices. The cold, high modernism of the camera’s eye—which delights in symmetrically framing all varieties of shiny, broken future junk—can be offset by the widescreen lenses that will distort faces. Slightly too loud, crisply enunciated deliveries of dialogue along with Alex’s a cappella performances of “Singin’ inside Rain” make clear This specific can be a satirical world unto itself.

Along with tiny visual jokes (such as the collection of stolen wristwatches along with wads of cash Alex keeps under his bed or the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack that will’s prominently displayed inside rotunda record store), there’s the high-velocity ménage-a-trois set to Rossini’s “William Tell Overture.” Pairing stylistic excess which has a sexual one, the speed removes all eroticism along with reduces Alex along with his companions to milky blurs. Rolling around inside mid-afternoon light as Ludwig Van Beethoven’s glowering face looms behind them, their abstracted movements play out like an explicit variation of a Benny Hill Show sketch—high meets low meets saucy postcard. This specific type of postmodern pastiche can be common within Kubrick’s work (he was an early adopter of the “ironic soundtrack”), however here This specific’s exuberantly silly.

A scene that will also plays with speed, humor, pop media, along with sex opens Les Saignantes: wearing a harness that will’s attached to the ceiling, the nude Majolie (Adèle Ado) swoops down towards the elderly Secretary General of the Civil Cabinet (SGCC), who lies on a bed. Fading the image in along with out while varying the speed of Majolie’s thrusts, the confidence of her movements immediately makes clear that will, despite the fractured editing, she can be the one controlling This specific situation. Or at least most of This specific—the transition between sex along with her realization that will the SGCC has died happens so quickly This specific’s easy to miss (her prodding along with staring at his body could’ve well been part of her aerial foreplay). Reading his passport, she sees he was born in 1939 along with shrieks, “What’s a granddaddy like you doing which has a ‘bloodette’ like me?!” betraying that will their sexual encounter was purely transactional. As Majolie soon explains to her friend Chouchou (Dorylia Calmel), she was sleeping with the SGCC to secure a deal that will would certainly short a purchase of government-owned trucks.

Throughout Les Saignantes, Majolie along with Chouchou’s strong, beautiful bodies are their main tool for getting what they need to survive. Bekolo initially got the idea for the film when, after failing to secure a meeting which has a powerful government minister, a female acquaintance assured she could set This specific up for him. Speaking to Akin Akesokan in 2008, the director stated, “I had the idea that will if I focused on women, I would certainly truly touch on very sensitive issues in society. I was trying to make a film about Cameroon, along with so This specific was important to bring up the issue of women’s relationships with men in power.” This specific’s a key contradiction: although the women inside film (along with almost certainly the woman who inspired This specific) do not benefit via This specific corrupt system the way men do, they are forced to use their bodies as leverage along with become associated with its immorality along with illegitimacy.

Yet Bekolo’s fundamental interest can be along with always has been in creating a brand new cinematic grammar, one that will references favorite forms however can be outside of Western binaries like “sexist” or “not sexist.” Throughout the film, title cards pose questions that will fight against genre conventions in an African context: “How can you make a science fiction film in a country that will has no future?” along with “How can you make a detective film in a country where investigation can be not allowed?” Under the influence of the mysterious force of Mevoungou (named after a Beti tribe ritual performed by women in times of crisis), Chouchou along with Majolie ultimately destroy the patriarchy on their own terms. Rather than seeking glory after their semi-mystical triumph, they go back to wandering the streets of Yaounde chatting with friends—everyday people rather than elevated Wonder Women.

The final question the film poses (“How can you watch a film like This specific along with do nothing after?”) reminds us that will if we want This specific cinematic fantasy, we’ll have to think differently rather than dream bigger. Between Alex finding his place alongside the powerful along with Majolie along with Chouchou permanently banishing them, the approach seems clear.

Les Saignantes along with A Clockwork Orange screen in rep This specific Sat, Mar 10 for our Beyond the Canon series, along with tickets are still available.

Violet Lucca can be the Digital Producer of Film Comment magazine along with hosts its podcast. A member of the brand new York Film Critics Circle, she also regularly contributes to Sight & Sound. Twitter: @unbuttonmyeyes

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BAMcinématek’s Beyond the Canon—Les Saignantes + A Clockwork Orange

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