on July 1, 2010
This movie is a genuine classic. The picture quality on Blue-ray is outstanding. Amazing what these guys can do with old film. If you have never viewed this movie...what are you waiting for ? The sound track isn't going to blow anyone away, so this movie isn't going to show off that aspect of your home theatre, but the story and picture more than make up for it.This is a must have title for anyones collection. Also, there is a recent interview with Malcolm McDowell and his friends and family that id definately worth a watch.Many of the movies from this time period haven't aged well as far as the story lines go. But Kubrick was way ahead of his time when he put this movie out.
A Clockwork Orange(released Dec/71)was quite the oddity then(I remember well its premiere)and it still remains so,to me.The film takes place in a dystopian near future world in England and remnants of the 60s are everywhere to be seen.To take on such a novel as Burgess got published in /62,would have been an overwhelming undertaking for most directors,but Kubrick rose to the challenge and it remains one of his better known works.The film stars a myriad of wonderful English actors,but the star of course is McDowell himself,who convincingly portrays the leader/hoodlum of the film.The film is many things,not the least of which would include a pervading darkness,cynicism,perverse sexuality from actual acts to artwork,brutality,humour,pathos and metaphoric story telling.
The plot finds McDowell as the leader of a gang.The world he inhabits is filled with such young men who randomly commit unlawful acts of every description.We follow McDowell and his group of misfits from one distasteful incident to another which include beatings,robberies and rapes.They talk in a funny combination of slang,double speak and Yoda-like sentence structure.All is not nirvana in the gang,as slowly but surely two start to rebel against McDowell's leadership.McDowell temporarily puts down the "uprising".However one night when he is leaving a home that he had broken into with the help of his boys,they clobber him in the face with a milk bottle.The gang flees and they leave McDowell to the police.McDowell is taken away and imprisoned.His "rehabilitation" takes the form of sucking up to the Catholic priest in the jail,but all the time his thoughts are bent towards violence.
One day McDowell approaches the priest with the idea of participating in a new program he has heard that can rehabilitate him within two weeks.When a member of Parliament makes a surprise visit to the prison McDowell speaks up and is chosen to enter the program.McDowell thinks this is going to be a lark and his way of drastically reducing his 14 years sentence,two years of which he has already served.The program has McDowell in a theater with his eyes forced wide open,watching unpleasant and violent films on the screen.As he does,his eyes are doused with a chemical.As the program progresses and the more violence he sees the more sick he becomes watching them.To top this off the doctors run the music of Beethoven,which McDowell had previously adored,but after the program it makes him as sick as looking at the films themselves. When the program's two weeks are up McDowell is released.
He goes home but his old room in his parents house has been rented out to a stranger.He is forced to leave and his troubles on the street just begin.He first runs into a street drunk his gang had beat at the beginning of the film.He is recognized and McDowell gets a reciprocal beating from him and several other drunks.Two cops then show up which turn out to be two members of his old gang.They take him out to a remote country location and almost drown him in a trough of water.Barely able to walk he makes his way to a house.He is taken in by the resident there,who is in a wheelchair and is looked after by a well built male servant.As McDowell is laying in a warm bathtub he starts to warble"Singing in the Rain";a big mistake.This is the home he and his gang had entered and crippled its owner and raped his wife,who died shortly after the incident.The owner now recognizes him and decides he will get revenge.He phones two other people and they drug him.He is placed in an upstairs room and when McDowell comes to he is being sonically bombarded with Beethoven's 9th Symphony.This is of course anathema to McDowell who tries to commit suicide by jumping out of the bedroom window.
McDowell wakes up in the hospital and is being nursed back to life courtesy of the government.McDowell has become front page news now because of his now"barbaric" rehabilitation treatment at the hands of the doctors and ultimately the government.The very member of Parliament who put McDowell in the program to begin with in the prison,now visits him.He asks for McDowells "help" in getting him out of his jam,in a roundabout way.In return McDowell will get a nice and comfortable job.As McDowell sits there in his bed posing with the politician,the cameras are flashing all around.However in McDowells mind we see his old bent and warped ideas now coming back to the fore,even though he has been considered "cured".
This film is just chock full of wonderful moments and Kubrick of course was a master of framing and lighting scenes that would remain unforgettable in ones mind.His staging of the drunk being beaten up or the moments leading up to the cat woman's killing are just two that stand out among many.I won't go into the metaphors and possible hidden meanings in this film,as it is full of them,but I think it is best left to film scholars better than I.Suffice it to say Kubrick conveys alot of information but makes it as entertaining as possible,in Kubricks own inimitable style.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:66:1.I found it generally clear and crisp but there were some scenes where colours would fluctuate and film blemishes would appear,so I would recommended a proper remastering of this film be done.Extras include commentary and the trailer.
All in all one of Kubricks most memorable and off beat films.It was quite a shocker on its release and it still packs quite the punch today.Between Kubricks great direction and McDowells beautiful portrayal of one heck of a tough and complex role,the movie still shines through.4-4 1/2 stars.
on October 26, 2004
This is one of the most disturbing, controversial films of its time and it still shocks audiences to this day. If you're wondering whether or not you should buy it, hopefully this will be of help.
The novel by Anthony Burgess was a quickly written satire with a brilliant usage of language, shocking events and heavy subject exploration. Burgess' first wife had been raped and it's been speculated that this was something that Burgess just needed to get out of his system: a somewhat sarcastic curiosity of what motivates a young hoodlum to beat old men on the streets, break into people's houses to steal or terrify or assault those who dwell there, and continue to laugh and frolic and play about like it's all just a game to them. Burgess didn't understand such young sociopaths or their world. He couldn't even speak their language, so he set his story in a dystopian future where gangs have free reign over the streets at night, speaking odd slang which combines British slang with corrupted Russian words, creating a language which is at once artsy and vile. The "humble narrator" of this mock moral tale is a young ruffian with a love of all things artistic; Beethoven inspires him, but with visions of wicked acts, which he considers beautiful. Nothing and no one can reform Alex: not his parents, his social worker, the prison system, religion and finally experiential psychological treatment fails. In the novel, it is his own nature which changes him in the end, as he begins to wonder what it would be like to have a wife and kids.
This was left out of the film however, which focuses on Alex being evil through and through.
You can therefore appreciate the psychological significance in the scene where Alex and his three 'droogs' break into the house of a compassionate author and beat him and his wife, proceeding to rape her. And the writer, by the way, was writing a book called "A Clockwork Orange" (about society's attempt to recreate the human mind into an obedient robot and the immoral implications in this.) The writer, like Burgess himself it seems, has far more compassion for those who would do harm to him and his loved ones than they might ever have for him.
For the film adaptation, Kubrick largely used the novel instead of a screenplay which Burgess had actually written for him (which Kubrick disproved of.) He ended up using a lot of the slang which Kubrick had initially found too confusing and played out all the "ultra-violence" to the hilt, the way that Alex is experiencing it (as fun: "real horror show.”) Yet, we can also see it from the victims' side as well, which is of course terrifying. The odd mix of horror, satire, moral tale and gritty realism confused many viewers and alarmed a great number of people. So many felt that the film was inciting violence, especially after real-life acts of violence were committed in England following the film which parodied the acts and dialogue from the film, that Kubrick received death threats and a lot of ill-thinking troublemakers became interested in him and the lead actor, Malcolm McDowell. Kubrick became concerned for his family's safety and had the film removed from British theatres (and even banned for 20 years in the UK!)
The film is fun, exciting, enthralling, with brilliant language usage, visuals and music. The heavy subject matter which it explores is all the more shocking as we are experiencing it through a kind of psychedelic fun-ride by carefree and careless criminals having the time of their lives at the expense of others (their sanity or their very lives.) But the violence is not so much explicit as it is suggested, abstract, and after the first act the film switches into an exploration of how to treat someone like Alex. Society does not know what to do with him, because he is who he is, and how can you truly change a person? No thoughts are even given as to what made him this way, but perhaps for the suggestion that his parents let him dominate over them and become a true narcissistic egomaniac with an expertise in flat-out lying to your face about reforming while he fully intends to do the opposite. Alex is very much like guys I remember from my school days; he is hateful yet free-spirited, controlling yet forgiving, conniving yet unpredictable, hot-temperamental yet strangely likeable (when not being the devil incarnate.) He's the perfect teller of this tale, but what kind of tale is it ultimately?
That depends on your view. The late film critic, Pauline Kael, accused Kubrick of sucking up the bullies in the audience. It's easy to come to Kubrick's defense, for the sake of freedom of speech and expression, and of true art, however the morals in what is delivered (despite what its intentions may have been, if there were any on Kubrick's part (he often didn't know what he wanted until he found it after numerous revisions and endless takes,) are still in question to this day. The film so shocked Burgess that he stated that he would never write violence again. The result of the cultural impact caused Kubrick to have the film pulled from his country. Perhaps "A Clockwork Orange" has a great irony in being to our world what Alex was to his own: a horrifying truth which makes us react and want to make sense of it, but can we? Evil does exist and no one has the answers.
"A Clockwork Orange" is at once a feast for the senses and a deeply disturbing question about the dark side of human nature, take it or leave it.
I enjoyed the special features in this release, which goes into the lives and experiences of those involved in making the film.
on May 29, 2007
Although there are some notable differences between the novella and the film version, Kubrick's classic does preserve the main part of Burgess' message, though does so in a more tragic manner. Because of the unique dialogue used by Alex and his "droogis" (from the Russian drugi for "friends in violence"), an understanding of Nadsat (the "teen language" of the teen anti-hero and his friends), or multiple viewings can help in the understanding of the dialogue.
In essence, Clockwork Orange is a criticism of the emerging behaviourist and conditioning practices as a means of reforming troubled youths and so-called "criminals." Though both Kubrick and Burgess do maintain this as their main message, Kubrick does not preserve Alex's "self-reformation" which occurs in the 21st chapter of Burgess' book.
Still though, the dialogue, the soundtrack and the costumes are relatively consistent with the book version and Clockwork Orange costumes are still quite popular at Halloween and other costume parties.
on December 1, 2001
I watched this film knowing that it was considered a classic and that references to its characters were plentiful in modern works. I had no idea of the deeply disturbing violence that was in store. Social commentary aside, I now have images of evil seared on my brain that I never wanted. Watch at your own risk.
on July 19, 2004
Perhaps the greatest irony in "A Clockwork Orange" occurs in the scene where Alex is reading the Bible in prison. He informs the viewer that he loves the violence and sex contained in the first part, but really has no use for the preaching in the latter half. I've come across a lot of folks who have seen this flick and it never fails- there are many out there who, like Alex and the Bible, love the brutality of the first hour of the film, and cannot abide the preachy second half. If you are one of those, stop reading this review.
"A Clockwork Orange" is an ingenious comparison of two theories of punishment- retributivism and utilitarianism. Debate has raged over the proper role of a criminal justice system. Is the goal to punish the criminal according to the old eye for an eye standard (retributivism) or to reform the criminal into a useful, law abiding citizen (utilitarianism)? At the outset, many people dismiss utilitarian values as a lot of liberal silliness: soft on crime. A more important question is whether we should reform criminals whether they desire to be reformed or not for the good of society. One of the more interesting aspects of this film is that is shows utilitarianism can be a far more brutal method than retributivism, contrary to popular thought.
Here we have the debate crystallized as if the proponents of both, Kant and Bentham, were debating the merits before our very eyes through the characters on screen. Alex is unquestionably rotten to the core; he maims and rapes helpless victims for laughs. The first hour of the film is dedicated to underscoring this point. When Alex is apprehended by the authorities, he is dealt with in the old fashioned Kantian way- punishment.
Alex then volunteers for a special treatment that will "cure" him, in exchange for freedom. The cure is a form of conditioning that causes Alex to become terribly ill whenever any inclination towards sex or violence surfaces- he now has a reflexive aversion toward evil, and "ceases to be a being capable of moral choice". The final act of the film deals with the consequences of being "cured" in such a way.
By now you probably get the idea- go see this film (but not as a "date"). To further entice you, it's one of the most visually exciting movies ever made, with vibrant images that will burn themselves into your mind. If you've never seen it on DVD, the transfer is great, and you will see things you've missed before. And as a final bonus, look for the guy who plays Darth Vader as a bodyguard.
on July 18, 2004
"A Clockwork Orange" is screenplay writer/director/producer Stanley Kubrick's interpretation of the book of the same name by Anthony Burgess. The dialog includes some of Burgess' made-up language from the book.
The plot revolves around Alex de Large and his group of friends who are very violent, and get their kicks by raping and assaulting people. After Alex and friends commit various crimes, Alex is finally arrested and put in prison with a sentence of 14 years. Eventually, his sentence is commuted in exchange for him undergoing experimental aversion therapy which makes him physically ill at the thought of sex or violence. However, it also makes him hate Beethoven's 9th Symphony which was played as background music to some aversion films during treatment. After an attempted suicide, Alex is re-treated with apologies by the government for inhuman treatment, and Alex appears he will resume his old ways.
This movie is highly stylized, including wardrobe, hairdo's (mom has purple hair, another woman had dark blue hair), set dressing, location and props. There is a fair amount of full frontal nudity of both sexes, and some stylized and slow-motion violence. Kubrick has made some good and bad movies, but this is his most stylized and over-the-top effort. Not for everyone.
DVD has chapters, English or French spoken language, several subtitle languages, a trailer and list of awards.
on July 1, 2004
I have recently gotten into punk music. Im not talking the new wave, fake pop punk, i mean the old 70-80s punk, when the songs actually had a statement. Obviously, i ran into the Adicts, and i loved them. I heard that they are loosely based on Alex's "droogs" in this movie, in how they dress in boiler suits, so i thought i would check it out. Right from the out start of the movie, Alex begins to beat a homeless person, simply because he doesn't like the homeless. From that point on, you can't help but get the feeling that you shouldn't be watching the movie, yet you can't keep your eyes off of it. The movie throws you into a whirlwind of emotions, what with the hate that grows in you towards Alex for his truly hanous acts of rape and violence (or "the old in out," and "a bit of the old ultra-violence," as Alex puts it.) Kubrick does a great job of truly making you think that Alex deserves all he has coming to him.
Alex and his droogs are out one night, ready to take their next female victim, and the group agrees, without alex of course, that they are tired of him being the boss. Alex goes into the womans house, and after killing her with a giant ciramic male organ (if you know what i mean), runs out the front door, only to meet a milk bottle directly to his face from one of his droog buddies. his friends make a clean getaway and Alex is taken by the police and put into a catholic prison of sorts. While their he learns about the bible, and begins thinking things quite disturbing, such as being the one whip Christ on the way to his death (like i said disturbing.)
Eventually Alex gets in the good graces of the pastor and is sent to a program which is basically a complete brainwash. By giving Alex a drug before forcing him to view films of group raping and ultra-violence, he becomes physically sick at the very thought of commiting a violent act, or raping another woman. Through all of the violence and rapings that run rampent in this film, kubrick is delivering a very strong message on politics. Through this movies eyes, the government is making all of the decisions, and subjecting Alex to a life of torture.
In conclusion, this is no happy-go-lucky flick. The high amounts of violence and rape will be enough to make you feel uncomfortable. It really is best to push past all of that, because after Alex finishes his treatment, the film really begins to shine and deliver its message. Believe me, take the time to sit through it, or at least come back to it and wathc it and hour at a time, you will feel like a changed person afterword.
To dan who wrote the comment about punks in the last line of the review above me, you dont understand what im saying. I never insisted that you must see this movie to be a punk, you might just enjoy it if you are a fan of the Adicts like i am, since much of their music is loosely based on the film (such as the song "smart Alex"). To say that being a punk means seeing a certain movie is foolish, you have to feel punk and the ideas that it carries inside, and i know that!
on June 27, 2004
When I was little and first heard of "A Clockwork Orange" I asked my mother what it was about. She simply responded "Some Scottish kids who go around raping and killing all night." What an indecent synopsis. While on the surface I guess one could concoct a view of the film/book this way. However, if really watched-casting aside the relentless sex and violence, which some see as gratuitous but I see as essential-you can see it is much more. Watching such a film is even more disturbing then initially thought. Reason being, the world formulated in fifty years ago isn't that far away from ours today. That's what Bradbury did and I fear with my interiority that it is beginning to happen with Burgess's forecast. The government is starting to clench the citizens by the neck and the crime is despicable. I can only hope that we couldn't reach limits of rehabilitation that is conjured up in the film/book. The fact that Burgess could write a novel that so depicts our current society caricatured is a disturbing thought; ten fold that of the images presented by Kubrick's beautiful cinematography, even the scene of Alex viewing the films. I think most the controversy based off of the film/book is based off of fear rather than thoughts of gratuity, fear that our society has reached such horrible points.
on June 23, 2004
There's something huge in this film that goes beyond any sort of rational explanation. If you can force yourself to watch the film past the first 15 minutes (and believe me, the big starting sequence of that one night that is NOT for the squeamish), then you'll see the utter sadist nature of little Alex, a Tom Sawyer-type who likes to play hooky and constantly get laid. However, though his wild behavior may not be completely distant of real life juvenile delinquency, he takes it too far, and his three-man gang betrays him and leaves him for the cops. Then through the next few years of Alex's life, he is shoved around by the society that he so happily kicked and "malchocked".
Even though this was, and perhaps still is, the most shockingly sadistic film ever made, that only seems to accentuate the character's horrible treatments in "The Ludovico Technique" and his family's abandonment afterwards. While he's portrayed as the class punk who went down a terrible road, you may actually feel pity for Alex as he's surrounded by fellow inmates of the adult world (he does go to prison) and abused just as badly as he abused people. He is the ultimate creation of the political Frankenstein: a brainwashed human being treated like an animal. He's the bad guy, and in society's eyes he will always be the bad guy, so revenge is taken by even the people that once loved him the most. I haven't read the book, though I'm sure at one point I will, but the story can be even thought of as being Shakespearean, which you'll see why in the very first lines of dialouge. The language of Alex is so profoundly bASs-awKArDs in a thick Welsh dialect that you may need to watch it a few times with the subtitles to understand just what the hell everyone's saying!
The title of this review is made in reference to Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction", because if you want to make a modern day connection then it would certainly be the best one to make. Both films were nominated for numerous Academy Awards but instead got the shaft, both were extremely controversial when released, and both deal with the morality of the choices we make. Any way you look at it, this is a DEEP film.
As for the DVD itself, there's a nice 5.1 remastered soundtrack, but a disappointing 1.66:1 widescreen ratio that's okay but could've been better.
Even though this is a strong drama, there's also some comedic relief that can be taken as funny, in a slightly twisted way. Some other good recommendations would be Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" made a few years after this, or the more recent "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". I've always liked to see movies that go beyond the boundaries of safety and Hollywood crap (like the Matrix sequels, for example), because that means that there's still some people left in Tinseltown with some b**** left to make shockingly real films. While there's real and there's just mindless barbarics, at least Stanley gave this one a little thought and used the questionalable ethics as a tool for accentuation of the story (because in all honesty, he could've cut that choice scene differently but probably felt the story needed that emotional jolt) R.I.P., Stanley Kubrick. None will ever match you.