A Clockwork Orange (7/11/12)

A Clockwork OrangeMovie One Hundred Sixty Four

A Clockwork Orange centers around a youth who partakes in drugs, sex, Beethoven, and ultra-violence before being imprisoned and reformed.

Alex (Malcolm McDowell), and his gang of droogs start A Clockwork Orange in the milk bar they frequent and we see their fights with rival gangs, rape, brutal beatings, speeding in cars and in general what they refer to as “a bit of the ol’ ultra-violence”. Alex is particularly callous and sociopathic in his ways, but has a fondness for Beethoven. After murdering a woman with a giant phallic statue, Alex is betrayed by his gang and is hauled off to prison where he is involved in an extreme experimental procedure to “cure” him.

Stanley Kubrick stands as one of my favorite writer/directors, if not the favorite and I used to watch A Clockwork Orange several times a month in high school. It has been several years since I had seen the film and was lucky enough to get a chance to see it shown theatrically. Unfortunately, the theatrical release was marred by an old restoration or a careless one which is perplexing since the film was recently relreleased on blu-ray and this was definitely not the blu-ray. The sound was a bit muddy and the picture had several hairs and specks on it that weren’t quite distracting, just disappointing.

As for the film itself, A Clockwork Orange has certainly stood the test of time. In 1971 when it was released it obviously caused quite a stir, even today it is a very hard R-rating. Kubrick shows an unflinching view of the rape and violence as well as Alex’s treatment. This is not an easy recommendation for everyone but for those willing to look deeper into the meaning of the pointed remarks being made about government, psychiatry, and the prison system may appreciate A Clockwork Orange for what it stands for.

Malcolm McDowell is absolutely chilling in the lead of this film and the role of Alex has gone to define his career. In A Clockwork Orange he is terrifying while also charming and likable, long before Dexter graced our televisions. The other performances in the film are executed well, but none come close to McDowell’s. I also have to point out the fantastic soundtrack, comprised of classical music and synthesized tracks. It would be impossible to imagine the film working with any other soundtrack and it adds tremendously to the tone of the scenes.

A Clockwork Orange is a great film that is sure to disgust people that aren’t aware of what the film is actually about. Stanley Kubrick made a career of directing masterpieces and A Clockwork Orange is still one of the greatest films released.

I give it 5 Ludovico techniques out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


32 responses to “A Clockwork Orange (7/11/12)

  1. Worth noting that Anthony Burgess wished he had never written A Clockwork Orange, as this was the one book he was saddled with for the rest of his life (this comment refers to Burgess’s writing career, not the Kubrick movie).

  2. to me, it was exploitative crap. it was “let’s see what kind of crap we can get away with.” i only saw it once, long time ago, and i could be fair and try it again as i am a different movie viewer now than i was back then.

    • The first act of the film is most certainly exploitative to an extreme but I think it serves its purpose in the context of the film as a whole. Perhaps watching it again would be different or it could just entrench your view. I’ve talked to many people that couldn’t get over some of the stuff shown so you aren’t alone in that opinion which is why it’s a tough film to recommend.

  3. Most people think it is a mindless, violent movie. The latter part is true, but I think Kubrick (who is my favorite director after Coppola) is using A Clockwork Orange to reflect upon society itself. I think the film is a misunderstood masterpiece. Nice review.

  4. Always been on my “must-watch” list but can never build up the courage to actually sit through it. Since I just watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I might have to wait a bit to finally sit through this.

  5. Really interesting post. I completely agreed with the part “It would be impossible to imagine the film working with any other soundtrack and it adds tremendously to the tone of the scenes” I honestly don’t think it would have the same impact with a different form of music. It is a brilliant movie with an amazing soundtrack. I need to watch it again sometime soon.

    • I still love the movie, of course (I saw it before I read the book). But I’ve got to give the final word on A Clockwork Orange to Burgess, and I think he makes his case very well in the essay I linked.

      • That’s a very interesting read but I actually think the 21st chapter changes the tone a bit TOO much. I disagree with Burgess that the 21st chapter turns it from a fable into a novel, I think it’s the other way around and ending at ch. 20 lends the film a final sly wink and a jab at the entire premise. I still quite enjoyed the novel (though the language was a bit hard to follow) but it’s hard to say which I would prefer.
        Thanks for linking that essay, though!

        • I guess it’s a very debatable point. I do like the films ending for the same reason as you. But I can understand Burgess’s position too, it’s his story after all. I guess we can only wonder what the film would have been like with the novel’s ending – up to that point, to its credit, it is a very faithful adaption of the book, without losing anything in translation. In that sense, off the top of my head, it’s probably the best book to film adaptation I can think of.

          And you’re welcome.

  6. I’m glad you acknowledge how disturbing this film is. I first watched it when I was a teen and I couldn’t finish it because I found the rape scene too graphic. Years later I would revisit the film and probably because I became more de-sensitized to such things, I saw it all the way through. Stanley Kubrick’s meditation on the use of classical conditioning to prevent a violent free will, purports to be an alleged satire, but it unwittingly revels in our main character’s sadistic nature at the same time. It’s a thought provoking film, but also unintentionally ironic.

  7. Pingback: North By Northwest (7/18/12) | Andy Watches Movies

  8. Pingback: My July Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

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