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Clockwork Orange, A (1971)

 

 Videy Well, me brothers, videy well.
Videy Well, me brothers, videy well.

Genre: Crime Drama Sci-Fi (UK)

Starring: Malcolm McDowell (Caligula • If....)Patrick Magee (Barry LyndonMarat/Sade)

Directed By: Stanley Kubrick (Dr. StrangelovePaths of Glory)

Overview: In the near future, a young hoodlum is put into the prison system where he volunteers to be the subject of a new treatment promising a cure for his criminality.

If I may paraphrase some, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced this week that the August 2011 London riots have evolved into criminal activity led by gangs, that what's happening in the streets of cities all over England can be in a large part attributed to gang culture. Sure, there's glorification of criminals in media, in film, in characters like Scarface, but I suspect that Britain's own well-dressed gang leader, Alex DeLarge, and his droogs play no small part in making riots something cool to do on a Tuesday night. 
 
 that ironic, iconic single eyelash
that ironic, iconic single eyelash
 
When I first saw A Clockwork Orange, it was still at an age where I'd watch a film over and over, before my current days of 'The Study'. A Clockwork Orange was one I'd borrowed for a week from a friend. I couldn't get enough of it. I watched it every day for the seven days I had borrowed it for, knowing instantly that it was a piece of genius. A Clockwork Orange will forever remain a film that I will revisit, and it's because of Alex DeLarge. In fact, he's one of my favourite characters in my cinematic education thus far. Furthermore, this recent viewing has caused me to change my website's front page.
 
Dim
 
For the few of you who haven't heard of A Clockwork Orange, #58 on IMDb's Top 250, it is without a doubt one of human history's best directors' best films, adapted from a novella ranked by the Modern Library as "one of 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century." I'm fairly sure nothing more need be said about its merit. For those among ye who've not seen A Clockwork Orange, I don't want to say much about the story itself. Simply put it's the story of a very bad boy getting caught for a very bad thing and getting a very bad cure. If you want to know more, I'm sure the internet can help you. As for me, I do believe I'll speak on this films' nigh-perfection and its theme, perfectly distilled into this quote:
Prison Chaplain: Choice! The boy has not a real choice, has he? Self-interest, the fear of physical pain drove him to that grotesque act of self-abasement. The insincerity was clear to be seen. He ceases to be a wrongdoer. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice.

Minister: Padre, there are subtleties! We are not concerned with motives, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime and with relieving the ghastly congestion in our prisons. He will be your true Christian, ready to turn the other cheek, ready to be crucified rather than crucify, sick to the heart at the thought of killing a fly. Reclamation! Joy before the angels of God! The point is that it works.

The question, that fundamental question about man versus society, about law and order versus individual freedom, is asked in its most extreme example in A Clockwork Orange. Take one man: a hooligan, a hood, a thief, a gang-leader and a rapist, then make the audience feel pity for him. Good luck with that, yet, it is the magic of Anthony Burgess' book, one that asks 'by any means necessary? or At what cost?' From this incredible story comes an incredible film. Stanley Kubrick managed to make the worst kind of criminal shine brightly on the big screen. It's a perfect film for many reasons, most notable its writing and visual style. The book's author invented a slanguage that plays wonderfully on the synapses. Visually, the fashion of the future is loud as can be, from Alex's mother's wigs to the rival gang outfits, though the highlight is Alex's own gang attire including a bowler and that ironic, iconic single eyelash that instead makes its femininity a sinister symbol.

The Durango '95 purred away a real horrowshow - a nice, warm vibraty feeling all through your guttiwuts. And soon it was trees and dark, my brothers, with real country dark.
The Durango '95 purred away a real horrowshow - a nice, warm vibraty feeling all through your guttiwuts.

 

From the novel, Kubrick made a masterpiece and added a visual spectrum to Burgess' words, bringing us that much closer to his universe, be it the futuristic shops which include drug-enhanced milk poured from statue's nipples as a usual evening out, or that horrible Ludovico's Technique machine that Kubrick frighteningly improved upon. Every scene is memorable, from the opening shot, focussed intently on Alex DeLarge's angry face, to the cat woman with her erotic art, to the prison inventory scene where Alex is given a taste of the new reality, to that last shot of Alex's wild imagination.

 

Most pleasing of all is that I've known of A Clockwork Orange's exisitence since I was young and have enjoyed it frequently for most of my life, this recent viewing a bright reminder of how it's one of my favourite films.

 

Naughty, naughty, naughty! You filthy old soomka!
Naughty, naughty, naughty! You filthy old soomka!

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 10 Script: 10 Plot: 9 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 94% (Videy Ye Glazzies, She'll Stick In Ye Gulliver)
Aftertaste:

Malcolm McDowell has always and will forever mean A Clockwork Orange to me. I've never known another actor to subject themselves to being strapped down with their eyes forced opened with specula. When I first saw this at a young age, I always thought that was a particularly dedicated moment of acting.


 

My site's scoring criteria rates films on a wide array of different things, things I think make up an entire film, frankly. To call a film perfect only because of its writing is forgetting the medium if you ask me, which is why my system's scores really is like grading on a bell curve. When a film like this one comes along, being almost perfect in every way, that's what reminds me why I'm so into film.
 
On a far more personal note, the casting for every exquisite pair of breasts in A Clockwork Orange is genius. Just pure genius. That's a job I'd take a pay cut for.

 

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I can't argue with you here. What a great movie! I haven't watched it in years but I've seen it a few times and it stands up as one of my favourites.

One thing that begs a mention is the soundtrack. Every piece of music in this picture fits the mood dead on. It would not be complete without it. Wendy Carlos' compositions of classical and electro-synth pieces mixed in with some Beethoven classics creates an intense psychological tension. Perfection.


I think I'm the only person out there who fucking loathes this film. It's so overrated and has it's head firmly in the proverbial arse of critics all over the world. Don't get me wrong it's very stylish and the central performances are undoubtedly impressive but I just find the whole thing bland in overall substance. This is a film built almost entirely on it's "banned" pedigree and even that is a sham and  as Kubrick made so many great films it's a shame this tends to be the one everyone talks about.

So although I can understand it's standing to a certain degree I for one would rather remove my eyes than watch this turgid shite ever again. Of course it is as ever just my opinion.


And boy do I ever love it!

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