A Clockwork Orange with its dangerous subject matter and thought provoking social commentary will leave you stunned!
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corri, Miriam Karlin
Genre: Sci-Fi, Crime, Drama
A Clockwork Orange is the type of film that you simply cannot forget. This movie is quite disturbing to watch and is certainly not for the faint-hearted. It is highly controversial because of its scenes of graphic violence and rape. But that’s the thing about Stanley Kubrick. He is a bold, ambitious and daring filmmaker who does not hesitate to go beyond the limits. And that is what has led him to make this masterpiece of a film.
A Clockwork Orange is set in future Britain where morality in people has declined, in general. The story follows a gang of ‘droogs’ who are led by a young and charismatic man named Alex. Alex and his mates often engage in horrific acts such as ‘ultra-violence’ and raping women. One such incident leads to the eventual capture of Alex by the police. He is sentenced to prison where he finds out that there is way to get out of jail quicker than the amount of time allotted in his sentence. The way is to undergo an experimental psychiatric therapy (developed by the government) that will prevent him from engaging in criminal acts. This therapy is also highly dangerous.
The brutal and horrifying subject matter of the film is presented in a very unique and clever way. The musical score accompanying such scenes is a bit comical which prevents it from becoming too dark and adds a theatrical and artistic feel to the whole atmosphere. One important thing to note here is that Clockwork Orange is, in many ways, a mirror to our society nowadays. The number of acts of violence around the world have grown so much that we have become insensitive to them. Objectification of women is also prevalent around the world in many spheres of life. This raises many questions as to where we, as a society, are headed towards in the future.
A Clockwork Orange has a variety of social and political themes. One of the main themes is the role of the government in shaping the society. The government is undoubtedly the powerful force in nearly every society and its actions can influence people in various ways. If it abuses its power, there can be dire consequences. The scenes in which Alex undergoes the therapy developed by the government are very chilling. This therapy prevents Alex from acting violently by causing him immense pain whenever he has the urge to do so. Hence, in a way, his ‘free will’ has been taken away from him. The film probably makes a statement on dictatorship and fascism here. Furthermore, it leaves us with a moral dilemma; are the criminal acts committed by Alex more wrong or is this government technique to prevent crime more wrong. You know a film has really succeeded in playing with your emotions when it makes you feel even a bit sorry for a person who rapes women for fun. A Clockwork Orange is also a satirical look into behavioral psychology and psychiatric techniques.
The performance of Malcolm McDowell as Alex is truly brilliant. He unbelievably adds charm and wit to his evil character. This is a very daring role and he totally nails it. Moreover, the set design needs to be complimented as well. The sets are very meticulously crafted. This is evident from the very first scene in which we are introduced to Alex and his gang who are sitting around statues of nude women in sexual positions. Other than that, there are erotic paintings and art pieces in numerous scenes. This all adds to the theme of the increasing objectification of women in society and even in art. Another possible message that can be derived from all this is that society plays a large role in shaping our own personalities. That is the case with Alex. His evil urges might have been influenced by the immoral and sexually charged society he lives in.
Overall, this film is visionary like 2001: A Space Odyssey but in its own way. The cinematography, musical score and locations all play their part in giving a genuine dystopian feel. A Clockwork Orange is a highly ambitious and dangerous concept that can only have been pulled off by the great Stanley Kubrick.
FINAL RATING: 5/5