Sunday, September 2, 2007
A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange; thriller 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 colleagues and accidentally kills a middle-aged woman in her home, they kick him 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 can cure against the violence. It works and he is suddenly manically sick from violence, but 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.
Nominated for 3 Golden Globes (best picture, director, actor Malcolm McDowell), 4 Oscars (best picture, director, screenplay, editing) and 7 BAFTAs, unusual "A Clockwork Orange" remains Stanley Kubrick's most controversial film even today: some claim it is genius, other dismiss it as hyper-stylized junk. 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 undoubtedly 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 and even announces how that kind of society is not free.
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 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 because it shows that no matter if someone is good or bad, right or wrong in that world, none of them dismissed violence as something bad. McDowell also brilliantly summarized the theme on the 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 thats our choice, its not up to the state to chose for us... The point is, you get into a Communist system or a Fascist system, and you take away freedom of the people to chose."