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Under the influences

October 02, 2005|Robert Hilburn

Alex Kapranos looks way beyond music for sources of inspiration. Here are some of his favorites.


"The Servant," directed by Joseph Losey, screenplay by Harold Pinter, about a servant (Dirk Bogarde) who subtly begins to take control of his master and household.

"It's one of the few films that lets you have a glimpse of the abyss. It's about moral subversion and about subverting the impressions you have of the characters you are watching in the film. There are so many levels to the film. It's a social commentary about the collapse of the power of the ruling classes in Britain. It's also about personal morality issues; the idea that nobody can't be broken."

Plus: "A Matter of Life and Death" (directed by Michael Powell), "Peeping Tom" (Michael Powell), "Back to the Future" (Robert Zemeckis).


"The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov, set in 1930s Russia, and featuring a visit by the devil during Holy Week, the Master and his love Margarita, and a novel about the crucifixion written by the Master.

"Again it works on many levels. It's an intensely unconventional but passionate love story. It's also a story about oppression under Stalin and a story about the essence of creativity itself and a critique of the life of Christ. It's a story about the temptation and the fallibility of mankind, again like 'The Servant.' Very few books have as much in them as that book and told in a way that doesn't let you put it down."

Also: "The End of the Affair" (Graham Greene), "Keep the Aspidistra Flying" (George Orwell), "Post Office" (Charles Bukowski).


"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (written by Edward Albee).

"I've never seen it staged or on film, but the story is so intense that I could feel the adrenaline running through my body while reading it. There's this chest-tightening anxiety of being thrown into the middle of this conflict between the different characters. I also love the idea that you can be drawn in by hateful characters. It takes a very good writer to create a character that you despise, yet find engaging. And there's the twist of the imaginary child. As it develops, you realize what is actually going on beneath it all. It's shocking and pretty horrifying."

Also: "Hedda Gabler" (Henrik Ibsen) and "The Wasp Factory" (from a novel by Iain Banks).

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