For this weeks Shocking Saturday I re-watched a film which is a classic in cinema, although not actually a horror film but a psychological thriller, it is rather shocking nonetheless. I am talking about the 1971 Stanley Kubrick directed ‘A Clockwork Orange’, which first caused controversy on its release, due to the main character being obsessed with ultra-violence, rape and Beethoven; but is now seen as a work of art.
Being one of my favourite films, I was bound to review it at some point. I’m not even sure where to begin, for fans of the 1962 ‘Anthony Burgess’ novel of the same name, I’m sure you would agree that ‘Kubrick’s’ film does the book justice. Even though the film ends a chapter short of the book.
As soon as that first shot comes in and ‘Alex DeLarge’s’ charming British voice begins to narrate, the audience are in for a ride, what is to come will have you questioning what it was that you just saw. We are taken through a typical night for ‘Alex’ and his ‘Droogs’, as they beat up a drunk, homeless man and then proceed to sexually assault a woman in her home. After his gang members decide that they don’t want him as their leader any more, they create a plan to have him arrested and sent to prison. Whilst inside ‘Alex’ does his best to suck-up to the prison priest, in order for him to sign him up for a cure which is supposed to get you out of jail early and stop your violent urges – the ‘Ludovico Technique’. But once undergoing the treatment, he realises that it is nothing like he imagined, and the outside world has also changed beyond his belief.
As we are taken through the life of ‘Alex’ we see him commit violent acts with the help of his gang, mainly because it is a different way of life than following what the rest of the public do, in other words he doesn’t want to become a clockwork orange.
Malcolm McDowell plays the role of the ruthless ‘Alex’ flawlessly, starting with making the audience despise him due to that acts which he is committing, coming across as a, although educated, psychopathic teen, and we cower as we see him lure others into his seduction. However, yes he is a killer and who most would call the antagonist, but you just can’t help but notice his charismatic charm, and throughout the second half of the film, the audience are forced in to sympathising with the boy, even though it is clear that he is getting his comeuppance.
It is every aspect which is put in that makes this film excellent, from the imaginative props and setting of the ‘Moloko’ bar; where ‘Alex’ and his ‘Droogs’ hang out before going out for a night of mayhem. To ‘Alex’ being apparently cured in the ‘Ludovico centre’. Everywhere the film is taken, your eyes and ears never get bored, that could possibly be because the dialogue is in an English-influenced Russian slang called ‘Nadsat’, so you are constantly trying to work out what the characters are saying, however you do begin to pick it up as the film goes on.
One of the best scenes, and the most famous, is that of when ‘Alex’ is strapped to a chair and forced to watch violent videos on a screen during the ‘Ludovico Technique’, even if he wants to close his eyes he can’t due to some clamps which have been applied. So he is forced to sit there and witness the scenes of fighting, rape and concentration camps; all to the score of Beethoven’s – or as he refers to him as ‘Ludwig Van’ – 9th symphony in the background. As we watch and see the effects which the videos are having on him, it is mirrored on to us as we are immersed in to his mind.
The visionary mind of Stanley Kubrick has once again given birth to an incredible psychological film. He has so many great directing credits under his belt – ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, ‘Spartacus’, ‘The Shining’, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ – but for me ‘A Clockwork Orange’ will always be his best.
A truly great film which I believe should be on everyone’s top films list.
Tag Line: Being The Adventures Of A Young Man Whose Principal Interests Are Rape, Ultra-Violence and Beethoven.
Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆