Movie Name: A Clockwork Orange
Studio: Warner Bros.
Release Date(s): December 19, 1971
MPAA Rating: R
Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his droogs Pete, Georgie, and Dim spend their nights raping women, beating men, and fighting other gangs. When Pete, Georgie, and Dim object to Alex’s treatment of Dim (Warren Clarke), they turn on Alex leaving him for the police. Alex gets a second chance at freedom with a special new program, but the program might have side effects that he doesn’t expect.
A Clockwork Orange adapts Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel (which the author himself wasn’t a fan). Stanley Kubrick once again works wonders with the visuals and clever dialogue which combines different languages for a language named Nadsat. Kubrick’s vision (combines with a great techno-classical soundtrack) in A Clockwork Orange is bright with colors at some points and completely stark at other points. Since it is set in an non-dated future the retro-combination for the most part still holds up as a great visionary look at a world falling apart.
The movie has been surrounded by controversy from its release. It was given an X-Rating, and Kubrick asked Warner Bros. to withdraw the film from the U. K. after accusations of copycat crimes (it wasn’t re-released there until after Kubrick’s death in 1999). The scenes of rape and murder were highly criticized and sometimes the film was edited down to an R-Rating but now it has be re-rated as R.
A difficult thing about A Clockwork Orange is that like many movies where the characters are committing crimes or living a dangerous life (like Goodfellas or Boogie Nights), the obligatory “fall” isn’t as good as the crime section. It is fun when Alex is with his droogs and committing crimes. The jail, the “cure”, and the revenge against Alex sometimes drags in comparison (though Kubrick finishes strong with Alex’s return to his victim’s home).
Another controversial aspect of A Clockwork Orange is that the story is altered through the storytelling. ***Spoiler Alert*** After Alex’s “curing” and his torture at the hands of his victim (Patrick Magee), Alex is restored to his rape and murdering ways. That is the end of the movie, but the novel has one additional chapter. After his release from the hospital, Alex tries to live his life as the leader of a group of droogs. He is bored with his life and after an encounter with his droog Pete, decides he just has to grow up. This implies that someone will naturally mature when it is right and cannot be forced to be an adult. It doesn’t necessarily work, but the message end up being a lot different than that of the movie
A Clockwork Orange is a great movie. Once you look past the hipness and its ties to pop-culture, it still works. McDowell gives his best performance (now it doesn’t seem like he says no to any project) and really brings Alex to life with the ego and hubris the character needs. The movie was awarded with Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay (and won none). Also check for a cameo by David Prowse, the man who portrayed Darth Vader, as Magee’s bodyguard.
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