‘Mind the steppe…’ (2)


Stanley Kubrick photobombs the 18th century…

My posting about ‘war films’ from a few days ago — you remember: the one that contained an entire movie at the end, for the delectation of everyone who wanted to watch it — brought in two thoughts from readers, for which I thank them.

I’ll discuss the first of those replies in a minute (the second will have to wait a day or two); but before I do , I want to mention that today — 26 July — is the internet’s #KubrickDay: the birthday of film director Stanley Kubrick (1928-99). And since he was a director who ventured to create a ‘war film’ on more than one occasion, I’d like to include a couple of clips — they’re relevant, as we’ll see! — drawn from the one that was partly filmed less than 500 yards from where I currently live. (Yes, really.)

The film is Full Metal Jacket, made in 1987…

Let’s take a moment to salute a master…

*     *     *

I’ll come back to Full Metal Jacket in my next posting; meanwhile, everyone will be curious about that first reader’s response…

Well, the reader in question is a pal of mine, and he wondered what ‘a person like [me]’ — whatever that means! — was even doing watching something like The Green Berets.  And my answer is actually twofold.

One, I’m very interested in film music — its development, its techniques, and its masters — and it so happens that the score of John Wayne’s most offensively imbecilic picture is by Miklós Rózsa (1907–95). The simple fact is that if Rózsa wrote something, then I want to hear it, whatever it is that it’s attached to, and even if every part of me aside from my musical ear comes away from the experience feeling sullied…

Oh, hang on: that wasn’t quite right. As a matter of fact, my musical ear did come away feeling sullied:

Actually, that comment isn’t quite fair. To be totally truthful, my first experience of anything connected with The Green Berets came in the form of the following track from an ‘MFP’ record that my parents bought me from one of those rotating LP stands that used to be seen all over (this particular one — and I can still picture it! — was in a ‘Cash and Carry’ somewhere in Birkenhead…) And there’s no way I am going to pretend that I despise this track on musical grounds — not least in view of the amount of musical information that I (self-taught from the first, as I was) deduced from it (and from Geoff Love’s arrangement too!) about form, tonality and orchestration. In fact, if you really must know, this was the first time in my life that I had the experience of hearing a theme played in partial canon with itself — and it’s a source of respectful amusement to me that every single piece I’ve heard by Rózsa since has a main theme wholly or partially played in canon with itself…

Two, I know (and, indeed, own) The Green Berets because it also so happens that I am passionately interested in what our culture produces — yes, all of it: even the muck, even the filthy, stinking lies that we tell ourselves and send into the world in the desperate attempt to convince everyone that we don’t constitute the force for viciously destructive evil that we all know we do.

Or, to put it another way, I don’t hate anything without knowing it inside out.


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3 thoughts on “‘Mind the steppe…’ (2)

  1. An often underrated Kubrick masterpiece which was the first to showcase his innovative camera -panning and visual flair was his 1957 film Paths of Glory, which in my view, is the greatest cinematic depiction of the barbarity of war ever made. The influence Kubrick’s style has had on contemporary film-makers is clear. The Russian film is a case in point. The images in both films will continue to be imbued in by head for as long as I remain alive. The Russian film was extraordinary in its vividness of the futility and horrors of war. As a youngster I remember seeing Tarkovsky’s Mirror which had a similar impact on me but for different reasons. I also love almost everything by Nicolas Roeg, Werner Herzog, Satyajit Ray and Lous Malle, There is something tangible that binds the work of these directors. Some of my favourite films of all-time that might be of interest to you, include The Tin Drum (Volker Schlöndorff), The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Fred Schepisi), Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore), Ran (Akira Kurosawa), 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet) and The Night of The Shooting Stars (Vittorio Taviani),

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fortunately, Rozsa had nothing to do with the music for the main and end titles – not even for the arrangements. And the song apparently isn’t referenced by Rozsa’s score. Which is perhaps just as well…

    (Incidentally, one of the flautists involved in the recording of Rozsa’s score was Carmine Coppola – not just Francis Ford’s dad, but himself also a composer of film music.)


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