Vinyl (1965)




















This review contains SPOILERS!
Andy Warhol's experimental film "Vinyl" is nothing short of a full-fledged disaster that makes all other movies seem poignant and entertaining. It attempts to take Anthony Burgess's novella A Clockwork Orange and somehow transform it into a more abstract, and perhaps effective film...an endeavor at which it fails.
In comparison with "Vinyl", Kubrick's rendition which Burgess hated, seems like a literal translation from page to screen. But although it's somewhat surrealist and condensed as much as possible, "Vinyl" feels fake, unprofessional, and stereotypical.
The movie begins with a three minute shot of a young man lifting weights in the middle of a room. On his left is a young woman in a black dress and to his right is a man sitting in a chair. He lifts the weights and we get nothing in the form of plot, then the camera zooms back and we see a little more. "Vinyl" is filmed in one shot, there are no cuts or different scenes. Everything is played out right in front of the camera, which is immobile as well. Needless to say, this really limits what you can and cannot do while developing a movie.
The little room in which "Vinyl" is shot just happens to be every scene necessary—it's a street, a jail, a torture room, and God knows what else. This isn't to say that there are adjustments to the scenery...no, that would make too much sense. Instead, Warhol lets us use our imagination to supply the differences to the surroundings. Sometimes it's impossible to tell where the characters are, because they never move more than three or four feet, yet are supposed to have traveled physical and metaphorical miles.
After the extensive screen time of lifting dumbbells, the man gets up and starts strutting. His sauntering is interrupted by a man carrying a stack of books. The man harasses the literary one and tears up all his tomes. Then he chains this man to a pole-type object in the back and does some unseen abuses to him.
By the book's standards, this would be rape or an equivalent...but who knows what's going on in "Vinyl".
Eventually, the man is taken to the jail/one-foot-to-the-right by a police officer. It's here that we only slightly start to see the resemblance between A Clockwork Orange and "Vinyl". The man is told that he can be cured from his "badness" but he has to be willing; and it just so happens that he is.
In Kubrick's version, this scene was handled much better...just sayin'. In his version, the main character is strapped to a chair, his eyelids are pried open, and he is forced to watch what his captors show him.
It's disturbing and effective; but in "Vinyl", this scene is just comical.
For the "torture" which precedes the forced watchings, it appears that Warhol just raided a sex shop. We have leather straps, hot wax, and a S&M type mask that "the doctor" forces the man to wear. Really? At what point was this too outlandish?
It's vital for you to keep in mind that the actors don't know their lines and the ones that they do know are delivered in a dry, recital-ish monotone.
The space that the camera dimly captures is about six square feet...what can you possibly do in that much space? As "Vinyl" proves, not much. It's offensive to see this lack of commitment and effort. You would think that "Vinyl" would, at least, be perfect in its own way—that is, there would be no minute long segments of fumbling with props or forgotten and stumbled over lines. I guess Warhol didn't care about such things.
The ending of "Vinyl" is filled with weird homoeroticism and visual sexual innuendos that are just there for the sake of being there.
"Vinyl" is an intolerable 70 minutes long, and every single sixty seconds is filled with large miscalculations.
To be fair, if a few things had been tweaked, Warhol could have produced a masterpiece...alas, no such tweaking occurred.
I don't know what Burgess thought of this film compared to his book; but I would guess that if he ever saw it, he would be outraged.
It's even a misnomer to call "Vinyl" a film, for it is more of a botched middle-school production than it is a cinematic experience.








Score: No stars out of 4

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