Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Clockwork Orange Review (Classic Write-Up)

One of the numerous elements of Stanley Kubricks films that has endured as a staple of cinematic discussion is the lofty ideas and themes present in his motion pictures. 2011: A Space Odyssey charted out the history of mankind while taking the fears that many in the 1960's had of newfound technology and personifying those fears into HAL. Dr. Strangelove hinges its entire plot on Cold War paranoia, and then came his 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, which tackles ideas related to politics as well as the concept of free will.

Taking place in an undisclosed time period in the future, Alex (Malcom McDowell) is a man who fancies pulling off unspeakable crimes with his chums, leaving a wake of pain and suffering in his path. One crime gone awry leaves him sentenced to a term in prison, which he can get out of much much earlier if he volunteers for a scientific experiment meant to psychologically suppress the violent and sexual tendencies that make Alex a menace to society.

Here's the thing about Alex, by the by, that makes him a unique protagonist; his criminal activities are not something general audiences could dismiss as "rough-housing" or "tomfoolery". He assaults, rapes and steals regularly, the man is a deranged individual who poses true danger to society at hand and whose actions are sickening and hard to watck. Which of course is the point of the story. Alex is reflective of a society teetering into calamity, one where vandalism lines the walls of most buildings and the government is looking to increase control over its citizens. Alex may be just one of the first to undergo this behavior modification procedure, but given how it works, there's no doubt he won't be the last person to undergo this treatment, which will likely be used by the government in the future to further suppress those who oppose their ideas/plans.

It's a lot of truly fascinating subtext that leaves much for the viewer to ponder (the Wikipedia entry for this motion picture has a terrifically thoughtful section devoted to the themes of this film, I strongly urge everyone to give that a read as well), and that sort of sentiment extends to the directing of the feature, which carries Stanley Kubricks usual skillful quality. So masterful are some of the shots seen in this motion picture that they, like other moments in other Kubrick films, have seeped into pop culture because of their quality and idiosyncratic nature.

As stated before, the entire story takes place in a near-future society, though it's never stated what year its taking place and that may be for the best. Even the visual design of the future doesn't seem to reflect on when the film was made; in fact, the enhancements brought out by technological advancements are low-key, only extending to furniture and the designs of certain buildings. It's all meticulously well-crafted and thought-out and serves well as a realm for A Clockwork Orange to bring out lofty themes as well as a ferocious performance from Malcolm McDowell.

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