ARTS & CULTURE
02/08/2011 04:17 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Thousand Slaps: Angie Dickinson and Lee Marvin 'Perform' Steve Reich

When Angie Dickinson's character gets angry at the hero, Lee Marvin, in the 1967 film Point Blank, she wails on him for a good thirty seconds. He stands there, first blocking and then just absorbing the blows, until she gets tired and falls to the floor. The original scene is here.

Watching it, various descriptions come to mind: powerful, impressive, vaguely sexist. But nobody would have called it music until YouTube user petervanderham edited Dickinson's slaps and punches into "Clapping Music," the hypnotic piece by minimalist composer Steve Reich that requires only human hands as instruments.

The editor didn't have to arrange every single hit, since the piece is composed very mechanically: there are two copies of the same eight claps, in 12/8 time, and one copy gets moved to the left by a single beat, creating complex rhythms. The process is repeated eleven times (until the copies are in unison again), one copy plays a solo coda, and Angie Dickinson crumples to the floor.

Over the course of the video, Dickinson hits Marvin 1344 times--I'll spare you the arithmetic. It's still powerful, impressive and vaguely sexist, but now it's also music. And Lee Marvin's chest is no redder for it the next morning.

(Via Kottke via petervanderham)