Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corri, Aubrey Morris,
James Marcus, Steven Berkoff, David Prowse
1971, 137 Minutes, Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Description:Alex is the leader of a quartet
of droogs, a vicious group of young hoodlums who spend their nights stealing
cars, fighting rival gangs, breaking into people's homes, and raping women. We
watch Alex transform from a free-roaming miscreant into a convict used in a
government experiment that attempts to reform criminals through an unorthodox
new medical treatment. The catch, of course, is that this therapy may be nothing
better than a quick cure-all for a society plagued by rampant crime.
1971 there could have been little doubt that A Clockwork
Orange was destined for endless late night re-runs at film
fests organised by students.
Based on British author Anthony
Burgess's novel about a dystopian future riddled with youth gangs, it introduces
us to thirteen-year-old Alex (Malcolm McDowell in a breakthrough performance he has never been able
to repeat) and his "Droogs". Speaking a largely
invented (by Burgess) slang, Alex happens to be into Beethoven (a
sly reference to Wagner-loving Nazis?) and ultraviolence. And ultraviolence is what the audience experiences for rest of the
Clockwork Orange is an assault on the senses. It is loud - in
both music (classics re-done by Walter Carlos on the synthesizer)
and garish 1970s colors. The violence and rapes have lost none
of its intensity that made Seventies audiences squirm in
their seats. Its impact, even after two decades of audiences
getting used to all kinds of ultraviolence on the silver screen,
It is an uncomfortable movie to
watch. It preys perhaps most on our
deep-seated fears of being the victim to unwarranted crime - not the person who
comes to steal our hi-fi set, but the criminal who comes to torture us and
sadistically rape our loved ones while not even bothering with the hi-fi set!
But the film also carries
Burgess's very Catholic concerns with sin and free will. In the film, Alex is
subjugated to a treatment which creates a total aversion to violence within him
- he becomes physically sick when exposed to scenes of violence. But it also
creates the same symptoms to listening to Beethoven as well.
The obliteration of Alex's free
will leaves behind merely the husk of an individual - one who will never
experience genius, madness, what constitutes a human being. In Burgess's eyes
this even a worse sin.
who changed the face of cinema a few years before with his
previous sci-fi effort, 2001: A
has created an excruciating, yet ultimately powerful, film. It may not make for escapist
viewing but cannot be missed by serious filmgoers.