on 16 July 2005
Kubrick is a director who hit the heights in so many genres that it's hard to imagine anyone else ever managing to surpass him. From comedy (Dr. Strangelove) to horror (The Shining) everything is done with a style that was his own and just makes the films compelling.
A Clockwork Orange represents Kubrick at the absolute top of his skills with some wonderful acting, especially from McDowell, supporting that.
A Clockwork Orange is about the adventures of a youth called Alex and initially his gang of 'droogs' until he ends up in prison and the film looks at what happens to him following that. The language used is brilliant (lifted straight out of the book) and represented Burgess'idea of what youthspeak would be like at the time.
It is worth noting that there is some extreme violence featured and you should expect to be shocked in places (watching a woman getting raped is never going to be easy) and indeed spawned copycat attacks at the films release leading to Kubrick having it pulled from UK cinemas. Following his death however it was re-released which allows any serious film fan to enjoy this masterpiece.
on 3 May 2010
This review is for the bluray.
This film could so easily fall victim to its own hype because of its history, the reaction to its unveiling, the oscars, the was it banned or just withdrawn? - but it manages to rise above that and stand as a monument to its era, with a message on crime and punishment, that still has something to say to us today. Despite coming out in 1971 it somehow screams 'sixties' to me.
I've never seen this film before. As a teenager I read the book, at least twice. Even then I was part enthralled, part repelled; by the casual violence, the state intervention and the end result. So I recently bought the bluray and my reaction was pretty much the same. The film has a mesmeric quality about it. The 'ultraviolence,' the exclusive language, the use of music and the strange clothes. It was very carefully choreographed, particularly in the fighting and rape scenes, which for me at least gave a detached view, almost like watching a musical. The scenes in the milk bar were very much stranger than anything I managed to imagine from the book. If you haven't seen it you are definitely missing an experience you wont forget quickly.
Picture Quality was pretty good for a film of this age. Colours were good, particularly flesh tones, and the contrast was very good with the white clothes and strong coloured interiors. Some of the household interiors were quite psychedelic. Grain is evident much of the time, but for me at least it didn't detract from enjoyment of the film. It seemed to lend it an authentic feel.
Audio quality was good - there is an uncompressed pcm 5.1 track as well as a dolby digital 5.1 one. Sound is biased towards the front and dialogue is clear and distinct throughout. The music is also quite mesmerising. I don't think 'singing in the rain' will ever sound quite the same again.
So overall well worth watching if you have a strong enough stomach. It is strange, violent and stylised - but as a key milestone in the history of film viewing it was well overdue for me.
on 27 December 2011
I watched this when it first came out in the early 70's at the cinema before it was banned in the UK.
Very hard hitting back then, especially the sexual assault sequence.
To this day, it is still upsetting, as are other "ultra violent" sequences in the first half of the film before it moves in a different direction to feature Alex's incarceration in prison and rehabilitation.
Shame the movie is not true to the novel at the end. I think it would have worked far better.
The second disc in the "special" edition DVD has some interesting additional material, including a black and white documentary of a school for deaf children in Margate from the early 60's (or late 50's) which is an eye-opener.
McDowell took himself off to the US of A soon after this film, doubtless as a tax exile, and has become pretty much "Americanised" with a "real American" family and friends. Oh well, doesn't detract from his acting in this epic and ground breaking movie.
Worryingly, the violence and disregard of youth towards Government and authority rings increasingly true of certain sections of British society today in late 2011.
That I find scarier than anything portrayed by these characters.
'Stanley Kubrick's' controversial and award winning 1971 presentation certainly was among a batch of violent films
that pushed the barriers of decency during those times, and challenged the censors of the day.
Like films such as 'Straw Dogs' and 'Soldier Blue' and 'The Exorcist' made around the same time 'A Clockwork Orange'
became subject of bans and cuts to make them more acceptable to viewers. (most of the films from those time have of
course now been released pretty much uncut as it the case with this one)
This film tells of delinquent protagonist 'Alex DeLarge' (Malcolm McDowell) who has little or no regard for anyone but
himself and his four followers cutting a trail of mindless violence and rape. in his wake.
Of course his luck will ultimately run out, arrested and imprisoned for murder and rape, he becomes aware whist in
prison of an experimental programme to convince their subjects that they detested violence, he volunteers to be a
part of the programme in the hope of having his sentence reduced.
Will the brainwashing make him a better person ? ...when back on the streets will he have changed his ways ?
The hooligan escapades of 'Alex' and his followers is played out with classical music as it's back-drop...
With scenes of nudity and violence from the outset the film for it's time of release was indeed disturbing for it's
unsuspecting viewers of the day (The film certainly generated quite a stir, along with other films such as those mentioned
above, the public had never before experienced movies with these levels of intensity and indeed violence before)
Been a while since last watching this one, not perhaps everyone's cup-of-tea so to speak.
Good Blu-ray upgrade.
Commentary by Malcolm McDowell and Historian Nick Redman
Channel Four Documentary Still-Tickin' - The Return of Clockwork Orange
New Featurette Great Bolshy Yarblockos ! - Making of A Clockwork Orange
Career Profile O Lucky Malcolm ! (in HI-definition)
As with many things in life, I came to watch A Clockwork Orange without any real intention to do so. I had of course heard of the book/film, but something always put me off reading the book or watching the film. It was the only Kubrick film I had not seen and was an admirer of his other work. The fact that the film was withdrawn from release in the UK by Kubrick himself and then banned for years by the authorities gave me the feeling that I would not like it. The Tag line spoken by the sociopath Alex "sharpen you up for a bit of the old ultra violence" left me cold and uninterested. As far as I was concerned even Kubrick realised he had made a horrible film and wanted to forget about it. How wrong was I, I will never judge a film before watching it again. A Clockwork Orange is without a doubt one the greatest films ever made. That's a bold statement to make, even about Kubrick but I really do believe it.
Kubricks film of the book is Exiting, Satirical, Witty, Bizarre, Political, Musical, Stylised, Controversial, Confusing, Difficult, Frightning, Comical, you can just keep going it really does have it all.
You probably know that the basic story is set a near future UK where gangs of drugged teenagers seem to own the streets and indulge in "Ultra Violence" to stem their boredom and bleak pessimistic future. The Government seems to be nearing a totalitarian state machine with very right wing views. When Alex, our Anti Hero and leader of one of these gangs, is caught by the authorities, he becomes the victim of state violence in the same way he used to dole out violence on the streets. What happens to him is the basis of the whole story. It is NOT the violence, even though this is a violent and disturbing film.
Is it better to be free to do bad if you choose to do so, or to be conditioned so you can only do good? The answer from the book and film is the former. In a free Society we all have to accept that some members of that society will be bad. That's part of the price we all have to pay for freedom.
Kubricks film is stunning to watch. It's laced with comic touches and wonderfull almost classical dialogue. Much of Alex and his gang members speech is full of "Nadsat" or teenage speak. Some you will br able to work out from the context, others from visual clues or similrities to cockney rhyming slang. Some is Russian based and can be harder to decipher. There is a Nadsat dictionary on the web for those interested. In the end however the meaning of an individual word or phrase does not matter in the whole scheme of a two hour visual and thought provoking masterpiece.
Although the film is an experience to watch it is also rather beautiful to look at as well. Each shot, wether it be the bleak cold interiors of the prison or the coulorful interiors of alex's home swamped with 70's styling, are gergeous to look at. As with all Kubrick films look in the backgrounds not just the foreground and the action.
A word of caution if you are of a sensitive nature. Although this film is not violent in the same way as the SAW movies are, it does not contain any gory scenes for example, it does contain violent and disturbng images which although not very graphic will stay with you for a long after watching it.
on 1 April 2013
The DVD works perfectly fine and the narrative of this film is smooth and fun to watch.
I would recommend this title to anyone who likes a Sci-Fi/Drama/Crime film, but is of the appropriate age.
I wanted to watch this movie purely because of the attention people have given this title, and it was definitely worth watching.
on 7 January 2012
Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange is much. much, better than the book. He guts the story of Burgess' phony moralising and turns it into a flat out visually exciting bawdy farce. What Kubrick did to Alex and his droogs is worth noting. In the book they dress in black and Alex wears an Elvis mask, they are supposed to represent a lost Englishness; Americanised by popular culture and speaking in pigeon Russian because of the influence of socialism. Alex's love of Beethoven represents the possibility that a civilised heart resides in a thug and the conversations with the prison Chaplin are about Alex finding answer to his behaviour before he accepts a treatment that will rob him of choice and individuality. Kubrick depicts Alex and his droogs as English archetypes, dressed in cricket whites, mummers play masks and full of bullish, aggressive energy. Though they speak in the same odd way as the droogs of the novel, they don't seem robbed of a language. The nadsat of the film is a playful extension of English. Alex's love of Beethoven, in the film, is his internal soundtrack: a violent, chaotic, bombastic reflection of who he is and the spur for what he does. The biggest difference between Kubrick's film and Burgess' book, is that one is the vision of an American looking at aspects of England and Englishness in the 1970s, it's football hooligans, gangs and its dandyism. Whilst the other is the prurient sound of someone tutting about the working-classes, the influence of rock and roll, TV and the possibility that do-gooders may be bigger fascists than traditionalists. I also suspect that Kubrick cast Northern English actors as his droogs as a both a tribute to and sly poke at Burgess, a way of saying "come Anthony, admit it, you love this stuff, you want to be Alex, he is you".
Part of what makes the film version of A clockwork Orange troubling is that it's a celebration of how good it feels to be liberated from morality and the excitement the freedom to be bad generates. The moral figures in this film are all grotesques, creepy like the youth worker, weak like the dad, drunk like the Chaplin and twee repressed vengeful loons like the author. Alex on the other hand has charm, energy and boundless enthusiasm. He is cinema's truest, purest, Anti Hero and most importantly he gets away with it.
Has A clockwork Orange dated? Well it's a silly argument. No one with a brain would look at a renaissance painting and think it sucks, because doublet and hose are soooo 15Th Century. All art is of it's time. The point of A Clockwork Orange is that its visual style, and energy and most importantly the way it deals with its themes are no longer routes that modern films can take. Not a single shot is wasted, you could take random stills from it and just about every single one would be iconic . It's Pop Art at its finest. An all out assault on good taste, a celebration of ugly beauty and a dead eyed moral vacuum. And it is as funny, energetic and as charismatic as it's hero.
on 29 August 2015
SOme love this film, some just like it but do not consider it as high and perfect as many others Kubrick's films.
The first time I saw it I didn't get how great this is, but just got the impressive violence and some black humor. As I grew up and started to make connections with other Kubrick films, and also developed a more mature and richer critic approach to cinema, I started to appreciate the ambiguity, the thoughtprovoking spirit, the density of cultural references of this film and the art of Kubrick cinema. Still I think this is one of coldest and merely detached, all-brain and no-heart films of the Master. Which is not bad, but just explain why I don't watch it so often as other films of his. Still it is something that you can not avoid, a film that tells about violence and modern amorality more than many essays and other supposedly anti-violence films. The blu ray is quite remarkable.
A film to watch with eyes and brain, but not heart. Exactly like Alex, the main character
on 7 July 2011
I'm 18 and i love movies, i only just watched this the other day, because i'm a big fan of Full Metal Jacket and The Shining. And wow. This is what cinema is about, the first 20 minutes are mesmerizing you just sit there and watch iconic image after iconic image. People still go on about how the movie is sick(obviously people who have never seen the movie and just believe the films past bad reputation). But they couldn't be more wrong, although some of the violence is mesmerizing to look at, Kubrick clearly wasn't just turning violence into fun, there is a deeper message, which you should be able to figure out for yourself when you watch the movie. Anyway, the directing is obviously amazing, just some incredible shots. The acting is great on all counts, of course the standout is Malcolm McDowell who gives the performance of a lifetime and it is something that will be remembered forever. He actually made me feel sorry for Alex, who is one sick individual, and i actually started rooting for him to get cured of what the government had done to him. It really shows you what a joke the Oscars are when you consider this movie and his performance got no recognition from the academy. I don't know what else to say, if you love cinema then you need to see this movie at some point.
on 8 June 2012
A Clockwork Orange is one of the most written about film ever made. There are theories, books and documentories created over the past 40 years. At the time in 1972 it was considered one of the most violent and offensive movies ever created.
Today in 2012 on my BluRay player I was impressed with the beautiful picture quality and sound plus of course Stanley Kubricks brilliant directing and story telling.
There is violence and sex but its tame compared to todays TV and movies.
Malcolm McDowell is the highlight of this film, his dominating character is the centrepiece of A Clockwork Orange, he makes this film and should be looked back how an amazing job he did in this film.
Its a challenging film to watch but after repeated screenings is seen as a very special film.