Sunday, February 4, 2007

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Starring Malcolm McDowell, et al
Rated R, 136 minutes

Based on the novel by Anthony Burgess, and adapted for film by director Stanley Kubrick, "Clockwork" is about a young lad named Alex (McDowell) living in the Britain of the future. Earth has been left a mess, and he and his band of "droogs" use their time to rape & assault the general public in a most gruesome, uncaring fashion. A shift in power among the group leaves Alex betrayed at a crime scene and in the hands of police, where is he eventually convicted of murder and sentenced to 14 years. To release himself sooner, he agrees to treatment that will allegedly keep him from ever acting criminal again. Once released, things aren't that easy.

It's always difficult to review something considered a masterpiece and film classic outside of its era. As such, I was taken out of the movie at times for several reasons. Poor special effects here and there being one, as well as the now cultural integration of the infamous movie-watching scene. Beyond that, some scenes felt too simplistic while others were hugely confusing.

There's no doubt, however, that there's something here. The movie is eerie in its uniqueness. The soundtrack leaves an impression. The look of the movie's future is really trippy. The dialect in this supposed time adds to the spook. You can argue that the impact of seeing a rape scene or two is lessened in this day in age, and yes, there are much more violent images shown to us even on over-the-air TV. It still works on a psychological level, though. Just the casualness with which the movie handles itself does a job on the mind no "CSI" corpse could ever do. I felt at times they could've went different ways with the storytelling. I know a current take on this movie might use a flippant montage as part of Alex's initial rampaging, which might've served the purpose I wanted, and that's driving home Alex's past before we get into his big life change. In the grand scheme that's a trifling matter, for this is an amazing story that is well told on screen.


It's hard for me to judge it "as a film" because I have no eye for art. I try to judge movies on their timelessness and rewatchability for myself. I score on their entertainment value to me personally. If you are among the group that believes this movie deserves more just on a technical basis, consider this my apology.

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