Thursday, 5 January 2012

Chris Port Blog #323. “Boléro”, “The Man From T.H.R.U.S.H.” and Moriarty…

Ravel’s Boléro (as all film students know) is all about ‘making the beast with two backs’, a kind of Tantric Manoeuvres in the Dark. (If you’ve never listened to it that way, I can highly recommend it.)

There are at least two apocryphal stories behind its composition. According to one version, Ravel wrote it to annoy his wife. In another version, he wrote it to annoy his cat. In actuality, he doodled the insistent melody with one finger to a friend and decided to just keep repeating it while increasing the orchestra. At the premiere, a woman in the audience shouted that the composer was mad. Ravel smiled and said that she understood the piece.

I’ve always thought that Lalo Schifrin’s The Man From T.H.R.U.S.H. sounds like a seedy venereal version of Boléro. (Mind you, I also think that Andrew Scott’s Moriarty in Sherlock occasionally sounds like a psychotic Graham Norton, so perhaps it’s just me.)

For those who don’t follow spy jazz, T.H.R.U.S.H. was a terrorist organization battling The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

For those who like their acronyms explained:

T.H.R.U.S.H. = Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity

U.N.C.L.E. = United Network Command for Law and Enforcement

(According to one story, T.H.R.U.S.H. was founded by Col. Sebastian Moran after the death of Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls in the Sherlock Holmes story The Final Problem. But I wouldn’t read too much into that).

Here’s a more Bossa Nova version of The Man From T.H.R.U.S.H. I wouldn’t recommend trying a Boléro to it though. You’d both fall out of bed laughing…

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