A Clockwork Orange
Release year: 1971
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Screenwriter: Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Burgess (novel)
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Warren Clarke, John Clive, Adrienne Corri, Carl Duering
Ratings: 4 Oscar nominations: Best Picture, best Director, Best adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing. 3 Golden Globes nominations: Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actor – Drama (Malcolm McDowell)
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #221, week 37 2018
In a Dystopian future, Alex (McDowell) and his gang spent their time with ‘ultra-violence’ until Alex is arrested. In prison, Alex is chosen to test a program claiming it can cure violence.
Author of the novel behind the movie, Anthony Burgess, wrote about the title that it refers to a person who ‘has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State’. One of the biggest themes in both the novel and Kubrick’s (Full Metal Jacket, 1987) famous adaptation of it, is how society wish to turn people in to mere robots doing what is wanted of them without free will, but it also touches heavily on how the ‘good’ can become equally bad, by trying to force their will through. Alex is mean through and through, at the time he is arrested you have no doubt about that. But still you feel yourself taking his side, when he is succumbed to inhumane treatment. Off course this is helped by McDowell (Time After Time, 1979) who, in what is surely the part of his life, charms as well as scares us as the young gang leader. Charms with his bright smile and blue eyes and intimidates when those same eyes flash with intelligence while he approach violence convincingly careless. The production design is a mixture of bleak and grey as well as bright pang colours and art of provocative character. Kubrick seems over all to be going for provocative and like the interior and acting is at times excessive, so is the violence and the humour, highlighting the social criticism of the movie. Today the movie is mostly famous for how many years it was banned in certain countries, but it is worth watching for what it is; a dystopian sci-fi nightmare forecasting the control by society many feel/fear we live under today and a story inviting you to question, what is okay to do in the name of good and when does that make you cross the line to becoming one the bad.
The film was withdrawn from British release in 1973 be the request of Stanley Kubrick himself. This happened after his family received several threats and protest due to some murder and rape casing being linked with the movie and its literary source. It remained banned there until after the director’s death.
The language spoken by Alex and his droogs is author Anthony Burgess’s invention, “Nadsat”: a mix of English, Russian and slang. Stanley Kubrick was afraid that they had used too much of it, and that the movie would not be accessible. The original edition of the novel suffered from similar criticisms, and a Nadsat glossary appendix was added to the second and subsequent editions.
Burgess had mixed feelings about the film adaptation of his novel, publicly saying he loved Malcolm McDowell and Michael Bates, and the use of music; he praised it as “brilliant”, even so brilliant that it might be dangerous. Despite this enthusiasm, he was concerned that it lacked the novel’s redemptive final chapter, an absence he blamed upon his American publisher and not Kubrick. All US editions of the novel prior to 1986 omitted the final chapter.
Picture copyrights: Warner Home Video