Sunday, September 2, 2007
A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange; thriller / crime / grotesque, UK, 1971; D: Stanley Kubrick, S: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, James Marcus, Michael Bates, Warren Clarke, Sheila Raynor
London in the future. Alexander is an aggressive teenager and a leader of a wild group, consisting of four thugs, who at night beat up homeless old men, rape women and break in into the home of a writer called Frank. But at day Alexander neatly goes to school and still lives with his parents. When he has an argument with his thugs and accidentally kills a middle-aged woman at her home, they kick and leave him unconscious to the police. Alexander lands in prison, but in order to leave from there as soon as possible, he accepts a new kind of experimental therapy of the government that promises to cure people from violence. It works and he is suddenly manically sick from violence. Back in freedom, his old friends, who became police officers, beat him up, and he is brought to the home of the writer Frank. Alexander tries to commit suicide by jumping from the window, but survives and gets used in hospital from the government to gain victory at the elections, proclaiming the therapy to work.
Nominated for several awards, unusual "A Clockwork Orange" remains Stanley Kubrick's most controversial film even today: some claim it is genius, other dismiss it as hyper-stylized glorification of violence. Kubrick describes the futuristic world truly expliticly: in the bar, instead of tables, dolls of naked women are placed in horizontal position; Alex reads the Bible and imagines he is a Roman soldier whipping Jesus Christ; the group of thugs beats a homeless old man... Kubrick's visual style is brilliant (the fast motion scene of Alex having intercourse with two girls in the tune of classic music), filled with unusual camera angles and a wide lens to give it a surreal mood, while the tangle follows Jung's theory about the mask of society that hides one individual's instincts. Unlike the book by Anthony Burgess, Kubrick decided to show the main anti-hero Alex simply as a frenzy teenager who was violent without any reason, which made the film even more chilling.
The main theme subtly dwells on the issue of mind control. Namely, after the experimental brainwashing anti-violence therapy, Alex cannot stand violence anymore—in the inversion of the theory about freedom—and the author asks if this is an even greater sin. This offered a psychological perspective, yet as an objective perfectionist, Kubrick remained a cold approach and did not offer any causes of the repression of the society and the way Alex is the way he is, turning a little bit incomplete. One of the better aspects of the film is the insight how violence is omnipresent in human society—Alex and his colleagues Georgie and Dim use violence against a homeless old man and are the bad guys. But when he gets arrested, the police, although good guys, use violence as means too. Once back in freedom, Alex gets beaten up by the same old homeless man, who also used violence. It is disturbing in representing the cycle of violence in society, whether for this or the other side. McDowell brilliantly summarized the theme on the DVD audio commentary: "The film is about freedom of choice. Being, we are free to live a good, righteous life, or to live an immoral life. But that's our choice, its not up to the state to choose for us... The point is, you get into a Communist system or a Fascist system, and you take away freedom of the people to choose."