Andy Warhol’s 1965 Film, Vinyl, Adapted from Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange

Sure­ly you’ve seen Stan­ley Kubrick­’s ver­sion of A Clock­work Orange. But have you seen Andy Warhol’s? Antho­ny Burgess’ 1962 nov­el of the robust cul­ture of teenage vio­lence in our freak­ish dystopi­an future caught the eye of not just the man who had pre­vi­ous­ly made 2001: A Space Odyssey, but that of the man who had pre­vi­ous­ly made the eight-hour still shot Empire as well. Warhol and Kubrick­’s sen­si­bil­i­ties dif­fered, you might say, as did the means of pro­duc­tion to which they had access, and a com­par­i­son of their Clock­work Orange adap­ta­tions high­lights both. Using three shots in this 70-minute film instead of Empire’s one, Warhol cre­ates, in the words of Ed Howard at Only the Cin­e­ma, “a strange and intrigu­ing film which, like most of Warhol’s movies, often toes the line between slow and down­right bor­ing, a piece of “alien­at­ing, atti­tude-based cin­e­ma” that “pro­vides no easy plea­sures,” “replac­ing the con­ven­tion­al nar­ra­tive dri­ve with a clut­tered mise-en-scene of bod­ies.” For all its cheap­ness, Warhol’s  lo-fi cin­e­mat­ic ren­di­tion did at least come first, in 1965 to Kubrick­’s 1971 — plus, you can watch it free on Youtube above.

Vinyl is such a loose adap­ta­tion of the source nov­el that even peo­ple who have seen it should be for­giv­en for not real­is­ing that it is built on Burgess’s lit­er­ary scaf­fold,” says the web site of the Inter­na­tion­al Antho­ny Burgess Foun­da­tion. “The film is pre­sent­ed as a series of images of bru­tal­i­ty, beat­ings, tor­ture and masochism all per­formed by a group of men under the gaze of a glam­orous woman. In its pre­oc­cu­pa­tions with pornog­ra­phy and vio­lence, it bears many of the oblique hall­marks of Warhol’s work, along with a famil­iar cast of Fac­to­ry reg­u­lars such as Ger­ard Malan­ga, Edie Sedg­wick and Ondine. 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.

You can watch Three More 1960s “Anti-Films” by Andy Warhol — Sleep, Eat & Kiss — in our 2011 post. They are oth­er­wise list­ed in our col­lec­tion of 635 Free Movies Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Andy Warhol Cre­ates Album Cov­ers for Jazz Leg­ends Thelo­nious Monk, Count Basie & Ken­ny Bur­rell

The Mak­ing of Stan­ley Kubrick’s A Clock­work Orange

Andy Warhol Shoots “Screen Tests” of Nico, Bob Dylan & Sal­vador Dalí

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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