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85 Chapter Four MUSIC, DANCE, AND DIALOGUE The Metaphor of Dance Claudia Gorbman claims that, in classical narrative sound films, music occupies a background role in comparison with other elements, such as characters’ actions and dialogue, which usually aid in the progression of the story. The classical narrative sound film has been constituted in such a way that the spectator does not normally (consciously) hear the film score. Music being non-narrative and non-representational takes a back seat, as it were, to the viewer’s principal object of attention—the story, the characters: the diegesis . . . The spectator tends to be conscious of discourse (elements, including music, that enunciate the story) only insofar as it “transgresses” or “interrupts” story (that which is enunciated). (1987: 31) One of the main features of music in classical narrative sound film is, according to Gorbman, its “inaudibility” because music should “subordinate itself to dialogue, to visuals—i.e., to the primary vehicles of narrative ” (1987: 73). However, in Kubrick’s adaptations, music is not only foregrounded, becoming audible, but it also helps the progression of the story, often moving and motivating characters’ actions, as in the case of A Clockwork Orange. What is more, music is an indispensable element in the creation and development of the metaphor of dance. Through this expression I define the sequences in which the characters’ movements and/or the montage follow the rhythm of music. The scenes seem to emanate from music itself, and the mise-en-scène, the editing, and the music enrich and transform one another. In what follows, I discuss how and why this metaphor is used in 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, and Full Metal Jacket. In the case of the second film, I also address the scenes in which the protagonist’s Music, Dance, and Dialogue 86 actions are guided by music. Finally, to underline how much the metaphor of ballet is a constant in Kubrick’s last six adaptations, I briefly cite relevant sequences of Barry Lyndon, The Shining, and Eyes Wide Shut. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a sublime visual and aural experience about the wonders of space and celestial bodies, as well as the beauty of man’s technological achievements. The slow, graceful movements of spaceships, accompanied by classical music, evoke the prettiness and almost weightlessness of classical dancers. The awe of the universe and technology is rendered through a ballet, which increases the joy and excitement provoked by this cinematic experience. The spacecraft peacefully float and revolve in a space full of celestial bodies, accompanied by slow camera movements, a harmonious montage, and Johann Strauss’s Blue Danube waltz. This metaphor of dance does not appear in Clarke’s novel, and it is therefore a feature that pertains only to the cinematic adaptation. As both Brooks Landon (1999) and Scott Bukatman (1999) argue, in science-fiction cinema the spectacle sustains the film, special effects characterize it, and, above all, the narrative stops to let the spectators appreciate and contemplate special effects. On the contrary, science-fiction literature remains primarily a narrative medium. I suggest that in Kubrick’s film the narrative does not stop when the metaphor of dance appears, but rather advances. The development of the story, at least as it is understood in classical narrative Hollywood films, does not seem to be the director’s principal concern. Kubrick seems more interested in a new kind of narrative that, thanks to special effects, involves the spectators in a visual and aural experience. In this respect, the metaphor of dance becomes a “meta-metaphor” of the dance of the spectators’ minds. In Clarke’s novel, when the narrative stops and a description about celestial and mechanical bodies begins, the readers are not involved in a ballet of the mind. Indeed, Clarke’s prose is more concerned with narrative, descriptions of several phenomena, and possible explanations of them. He seems to adopt a scientific approach towards the mysteries of space, while Kubrick seems to choose a poetical, musical point of view. As discussed in the two previous chapters, the awe and wonder of space and time are evoked in the novel through descriptions and scientific hypotheses. In the film, however, the sublime is more immediately evoked through peculiar cinematic techniques. For example, The Blue Danube waltz accompanies the first two sequences set in space: when the spaceship Orion III travels from the Earth towards Space Station 1 near the Moon; and...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781621039822
Related ISBN
9781578062973
MARC Record
OCLC
828334142
Pages
208
Launched on MUSE
2013-10-21
Language
English
Open Access
No
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