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Clockwork Orange - Only For the Literate

Updated on February 28, 2012

Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange

Movie Poster for Clockwork Orange
Movie Poster for Clockwork Orange

Only for People With Analytical, Open Minds

You might want to read the Anthony Burgess novel prior to seeing the film. It's a bit easier to understand the author's objective -- plus it has a glossary that defines the many invented words, or created idioms derived from the Russian language, or words that are a strange mix of English and Russian.

This film was cutting edge when released and remains in that position. The story unfolds through the acts, feelings, emotions and observations of Alex, the character portrayed by Malcolm McDowell (who is so convincing that he basically could only obtain roles cast for crazed characters thereafter).

This is not material for the faint of heart or those offended by nudity and violence. Kubrick doesn't throw in nudity and violence for prurient interests but as an integral perspective into Alex's warped vision of the world.

From Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie," to Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance," to Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony" the viewer/listener is exposed to a great deal of classical music -- much of it synthesized by Wendy Carlos (in a very interesting and creative fashion).

I will never be able to listen to Gene Kelly's "Singing in the Rain" and not think of "A Clockwork Orange."

The movie outlines the possible success/failure of a government that might attempt any kind of re-programming of the criminal brain. Like some of Kubrick's other works, the movie somehow successfully intertwines dark drama with hilarity, as well as an uncanny sense of reality, of being "in the moment" -- usually during some highly uncomfortable scene. For those sitting on the fence, I'd say -- the nudity is hardly shocking by today's standards, and the violence is choreographed (thus always distant/farcical).

If you like movies with an intellectual message, try giving this a whirl. A few (very few) reviewers thought the film was simply "interesting" but that they weren't swept away by any of Kubrick's stylistics. I tend to think such comments are either outright lies or that the men/women who feel this way must have green, Vulcan blood flowing through their veins. I don't think this is the kind of film that one can watch dispassionately.

Alex Undergoing a De-criminalizing Treatment
Alex Undergoing a De-criminalizing Treatment

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