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on September 13, 2003
It was rated X when it first came out. Why? The violence is so repulsive that the ratings board decreed that it should only be seen by someone over the age of 21. That didn't hurt its box office. A Clockwork Orange captures many of the bleaker aspects of Burgess novel. Kubrick wraps the story in a pop art day glo look. It's very much a movie of its time.
Our hero is Alex the leader of a violent gang who is captured after committing "ultra violence" which includes the rape and murder of a prominent writer. The government decides to make an example of Alex. Using a form of behavior modification, they make violence repulsive (to the point where Alex becomes physically ill). He's proclaimed "cured" and released now a potential victim vs. the predator he was before.
While Kubrick's film decries the esmasculation of others in pursuit of peace, he also satirizes the very government that attempts to make Alex safe for society. Kubrick seems to be arguing that redemption isn't possible for Alex and that, in fact, society will never be free of the predators around us. He implicates everyone in this failure of society and suggests that it's (much like he did in Dr. Strangelove, Paths of Glory and 2001)that violence fuels much of our society.
The imagery in Orange is still amazing fresh and vital 30 years on. As a satire, Orange occasionally fails; Kubrick's point of view doesn't exist. His detached style makes the film nonjudgemental about Alex and the world he grew up in. That approach makes it appear as if Kubrick approves of the very violence he deplores; the film is celebrated by those who miss the point for the violence at the heart of the film.
This DVD transfer is a huge improvement over the first release. There's very little of the analog artifacts (i.e., scratches, dirt, etc)that marred the original release of this classic film. The oustanding transfer does justice to Kubrick's vision. The color, flesh tones, blacks and grays are right on target as far as I can tell. There's little of the edge enhancement that marred the previous release as well. The widescreen composition is intact as well.
The sound has been digitally remastered in dolby digital 5.1 and sounds much improved over the previous version as well. The improvement doesn't jump out at you the way the visual improvements do. Obviously the 5.1 format isn't used here quite as effectively as more contemporary films (when it was released stereo was a luxery afforded few film releases) but it's utilized quite nicely.
There really aren't any extras to speak of except for the original trailer. Why a documentary wasn't produced and added to this release is beyond me. Perhaps it had more to do with Kubrick's private nature. Since Malcolm McDowell, David Prowse and other cast members are alive, the least that Warner could have done was provide an audio commentary. Perhaps with Kubrick gone they'll do that with the next edition. Hopefully we'll see a quality documentary about the controversy surrouding the film similar in nature to the one recently added to the Dr. Strangelove re-release.
Orange isn't an easy film to watch or to appreciate. It also isn't an easy film to pidgeonhold. Those very qualities make for great cinema. Unfortunately, Kubrick's and Burgess' vision is subject to intrepetation which has allowed Orange to be both misunderstood and misjudged ever since the day of its release. Kubrick's film doesn't make the case for violence but does suggest that violence is the heart and soul that fuels humanity. His cool, detached style also suggests that there is little hope of escaping the qualities that allowed us to arise out of the muck of creation and rule the world. It's a sad but true observation about our world.
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on September 24, 2002
This movie destroyed conventions, defied an entire generation, and has been studied and gawked at for decades. It will continue to amaze viewers for many more generations. This movie was created decades before it's time, perhaps the reason that up until the year 2000 Kubric personally banned it from British cinema.
I should interject a word of caution however to anyone who is considering viewing this film; it's not for the faint of heart. Violence and deviance are portrayed in very repulsive and shocking ways throughout this film, and while this is done to evoke these exact sorts of emotions, the rawness of the content may not be appealing to some viewers. It's important to note that such content is merely an abstract part of a much larger question that the movie addresses about the importance of human choice; the viewer will likely love or hate this movie based on the importantce they place on this topic.
(For me,) The key to understanding the importance of this movie lies in the interpretation that it is an important fable about how we define justice in our society. I will go no further in trying to explain this movie, it truly must be grasped and decided upon by the individual, for this is where the true power of this film lies.
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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.
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on June 20, 2017
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on June 23, 2017
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on June 16, 2017
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on June 20, 2017
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on March 13, 2002
Now, first I read the book, a masterpiece of Brtitsh author Anthony Burgess, who creasted the slang featured in the film -- not Stanley Kubrick...-- and, as usual, the movie disappointed me. I generally don't like Kubrick, as he seems pretentious as all heavens, so I can say that this one is probably among the least-bad out of his "classic" era. There are several things he completely [messed]-up, creating a film of psychedellic eye-candy that seems to "glorify" the violent nature of the book, and he makes the lead into an even purer [jerk] than he was in the book, where he seemed to have a bit of sympathy for his mates, amongst other things. If you're a fan of violence, psychedellic films, pseudo-surrealism, and / or Stanley Kubrick, you'll probably enjoy this little endeavor from the Bronx's best-loved hack. If you're a fan of Anthony Burgess and / or real artists, you probably won't enjoy it at all -- I know I didn't.
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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.
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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 to 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.
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