Sunday, May 12, 2013
Bugsy Malone is very unique take on the classic gangster film. Not only does it converge with the genre of musical, but additionally it creates a world of only children. Thus this stereotypically dark genre is immediately lightened up by it's uncommon interpretation.
In gangster films some common themes are The American Dream, struggling for power, the corruption of society, etc. The theme of Bugsy Malone definitely ties into some of these ideas, but it creates a more positive twist on things; the theme is more about how because we can choose our own paths, we might as well go down a good one! I think this theme allows for some comedy to the film, because by going against the normal convention of a darker toene /theme to gangster films, as the audience we are surprised to watch a gangster film containing children and child-like elements (rather than killing one another with actual guns, the guns shoot out pies...)
Another unique idea that this film presents is that the destruction presented in gangster films is child-like. We are shown imagery / scenes of children parenting other children and children struggling to get jobs. This establishes that children are an equivalent to adults in this world. Furthermore, when the children sing we hear an adult's voice rather than a child's This makes the separation between children and adults lessen even more. So upon viewing the finale of the film (the scene with the massive pie war), we realize the absurdity of it all. Thus the film presents a theme of "killing/being a gangster is silly and wasteful."
Just the fact that the film is a musical outright implies that it will be lighter than if it weren't. Because the genre of musical inevitably slightly breaks out of the world of the film, it is hard to take anything to seriously or to heart. The song "Bad Guys" is a great example of this; if we didn't have this musical break (which showcases just how foolish and young these "gangsters" are) then the children gangsters might be taken a little more seriously.
All in all, although the characters of the film are "gangsters" and there are many moments in the film that directly reference classical gangster films, Bugsy Malone presents a theme generally not shown in other gangster films. This, as said before, is a mixture of it's odd usage of children as adults and the fact that it is a musical.