Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bugsy Malone: Gangster Kids!

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.


  1. Clarify: It's all very clear to me.

    Value: I think the points you made were very understandable and important, focusing well on the main concepts and ideas.

    I liked your analysis of the use of adult voices for the child actors. The entire thing kind of suggests that age is irrelevant, that the overall message of this film is applicable to all generations.

    The reference to "Bad Guys" was great. I hadn't thought about how strongly that number influenced the entirety of the film.

    Concerns: The only concern I have is in reference to the musical genre. You wrote that the fact that this film is a musical automatically suggests that it will be lighter, less serious; however, there are many musicals that are very dark and heavy (Les Miserables and Rent, for example). Do you think that the lighter tone is a constant characteristic of the musical genre with the darker musicals as the exception or do you think that Bugsy Malone was exploiting genre stereotypes/preconceptions?

    If you wanted to build on this, you could possibly add some more as to how Bugsy Malone works to establish the themes you mention in the second paragraph. As it stands now, I kind of want more information in that area.

  2. Clarify: None. I get pretty much everything you are trying to say.
    I loved the title!
    The introduction is easy and gets us into your points quickly.
    I love how you immediately talk about the use of themes in the film.
    I know how in my face it was, but I never actually thought about how it showed how capable children could be and were- with how they were like adults in this world.
    I agree with the point above in that the reference to how it is a musical and what that means doesn't really work.

    Maybe clarify on the type of musical or cover that aspect a little bit more.

  3. Clarify: I agree with the comments above in that you went into a well depth explanation and that this was a clear blog post.

    Value: I enjoy how you do include the fact that this film is pretty unique and you use many examples of that. You really ended and began this post nicely, I felt like I wasn't left hanging and I liked the pictures you chose to include.

    Concern: Again with the previous comments I cannot help but be concerned about you simply stating the fact that musicals are made lighter by the use of song and or dance. Although I do enjoy the ending I am just really concerned about the last sentence. You had us at a nice conclusion and I feel like the sentence " This as said before..." just felt out of place to me.

    Suggestions: Just fix up that last paragraph and it will be awesome! Also to make the statement about the musicals a little less specific as in how the mood of a film is made lighter by including the genre. Maybe you could say something like how the tone is changed rather than specifically lighter.