Monday, January 30, 2006

Embarassing old movies

I mentioned the other night A Clockwork Orange[^]. I remember it as a movie with a sinister edge, some great music and quite, for the time, controversial. These days the reasons it was controversial are the standard fare of Hollywood. My god, doesn't that sentence make me sound like an old fart! On the other hand, this might give an insight into the Melbourne[^] I grew up in.

So a couple of nights ago I decided to watch it again. The opening scene still sends shivers down my back; the transition from an orange field to a deep blue field with opening credits superimposed, accompanied by a synthesised rendition of The Funeral Music for Queen Mary, followed by the close up of Alex with his glass of Moloko plus, staring malevolently at the camera.

It goes downhill from there. I remember feeling a mixture of fear and desire[^] during the scene where Alex and his friends intervene in the rape of a young devotchka by Billy Boy and his droogs. The desire was, of course, for the naked young lady struggling against the inevitable. The fear was of finding myself in anything remotely resembling that fight!

It seemed cool, then, with my friends, to talk Nadsat, the language Anthony Burgess invented for his 1961? novel. Indeed, I'll attribute some of my interest in Russian movies to Nadsat given that it's mostly based on English transliterations of Russian words with a few cockney terms thrown in. When I heard my first Russian movie I remember pricking up my ears at hearing familiar words pronounced a little differently (correctly).

Watching it the other night all I could think was how silly it all was. Evidence of concretion of the brain? I hope not! But all that talk of malenky hairs on Alex's plott, prestoopniks, devotchkas, filthy old soomkas etc no longer felt right.

To this day I can read the novel front to back without ever having to turn to the glossary; those unenglish words are engraved in my brain, so the novel must have made some impression upon me. It surely did; so much so that I wasted quite a few years writing my own version of the novel. Bad bad writing at first and not a lot better toward the end. By 1985 it had evolved into the story of a serial killer who hated women because they had pubic hair. That was the best of it; I'd be ashamed to describe earlier versions. I'm sure Sue, my first wife, remembers well what I was like at the time.

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