In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problem - but not all goes according to plan.
Directed by Stanley Kubrik
Starring Malcolm McDowell
- My empathetic side had no clue with whom to side - Bryan
- A Clockwork Orange is a new shining example for me of direction elevating story - Sean
- Clockwork Orange is foundationally ugly, but because of Kubrick, it's always interesting - Jon
I love the opening shot... just Alex with the menacing stare, with his three droogies and some Milk... laced with something or other to sharpen them up for a bit of the ultra-violence. It draws you in as the camera pans out.
Then there's the music, our old friend Ludwig Van, dominating our ears. But more so, a good bit of Gioachino Rossini. I won't pretend to know my classical sounds at all... but we can't deny how much of the film, especially for Alex, is driven by the music. I'm a big fan of tunes being a powerful part of a film, and the way it's used here with Alex just amplifies it's value. I couldn't even imagine the pain of my favorite music causing me to be physically ill every time I heard it. Away from the classical tracks, we get a good bit of heavy synth work, which is strong and well used throughout.. especially in scenes such as the one with Alex on stage with the woman and when Alex is taking the beating from his droogie turned cops.
To go the directing and cinematic choices... there's the cast and their performances. Given the satirical like environment, I thought the slightly over the top expressions and tones were all well fit. Malcolm McDowel was superb as Alex. From his initial stare and manical behavior to his narrative voice... he was just all around great in the role. I don't feel as if anybody was out of place or stood out as inherently bad... and I think that's mostly a testament to Kubrick and how particular he is. If he doesn't like how something or somebody looked in a take, he'll do it again... and again, hundreds of times if need be. While there aren't many well known names in the cast, each part was well played in doing it's part for Alex's story. Patrick Magee did stand out as Mr. Alexander... especially for his facial expression.
There are multiple stand out scenes worth mentioning. The 'Singing in the Rain' scene is brilliantly done... as it's a situation that's difficult to watch, more so as we're watching a man forced to watch the brutal rape of his wife, but Alex's song and dance add a an unexpected element to it. The record store to the threesome is another fantastically done portion. I think speeding up the sex scene really puts the viewer into the type of high Alex gets from what he's doing, not just in that scene, but in general. The phallic statue fight, his prison registration, and his treatment (and the resulting showcase) all stood out as prominent scenes to me, as well.
It's hard fro me to knock A Clockwork Orange at all.. but I'm sure some people will point out things like the car drive and the poor looking effects. But considering the technology of the time, and the general style of the movie, I don't see it as an issue at all. Now, I can see some personal tastes not enjoying Kubrick's choices and style... but from a technical standpoint, he's usually pretty spot on... though there are surely things I've missed or ignored due to my unconditional love of the film.
As for the story itself... A Clockwork Orange is taken from a novel of the same name, by Anthony Burgess. I've never read it, and not sure I ever will... as I'd hate to find myself in conflict between the two. I do know that the novel had another chapter that shows Alex no longer being a sociopath, and being completely well, good and normal. The American version of the novel, however, didn't have the final chapter because the publisher didn't think it'd go over as well with us... and it was this version that Kubrick worked from. Even so, Kubrick said the novels final chapter was too optimistic anyway. Another noteworthy change, is that the novel has Alex struggling with any and all music from the 'treatment', and not just Beethoven's 9th. Not sure why that was changed, as we know how important all music is to Alex, even if the film did highlight Ludwig Van as sacred for him.
Anyway, It's a grand story... from a young delinquent of the worst kind, with his crimes and punishment, to the government and horrid psychological treatment, and back in full circle, including the house we first saw his sociopathic actions. What I like about plot, is that it sets us up for a redemption story... where we see Alex and how bad he is, and we get the idea that he's going to be reformed and get better... because that's how so many stories seem to go. But, as Kubrick says, that's overly optimistic in most cases... and there is a more realistic feel to how the movie closes with the media attention and Alex still showing his former tendencies once the conditioning had been reversed....even exclaiming that he's now truly cured.
I'm sure there's plenty to talk about considering morality and human condition, as well as the way we watch and think of violence as we view it in shows and films such as this. Sounds like a chat for the comments, if you all want to take it up. The movie, of course, was controversial due to the extreme sexual violence. The film was cited in multiple cases in the UK, which also led Kubrick to have WB actually pull the film from theaters. I recall reading somewhere how incredible that was, and how few (if any) other directors could ever have that kind of control over their films or the studio once released and making a profit.
There is always more to say, but I'll hand it off to you all for discussion. So, with a side note, 3 Floyd's brewery up here near me has a Milk Stout called Miloko (the drug laced Milk), a nod to the movie, including the label. Like this movie, it's received positive reviews! And with that, it's no surprise, that I give A Clockwork Orange an A+, as I consider it a true masterpiece.
Initial Review by Bobby