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A Clockwork Orange [DVD] 
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Stanley Kubrick's controversial film triggered copycat violence on its initial release and as a result the director withdrew the film from circulation in Britain, keeping it suppressed right up to his death in 1999. The film follows sadistic punk Alex (Malcolm McDowell) as he takes his gang on a rape and murder spree, showing absolutely no mercy to any of his victims. When he is eventually captured, the authorities subject him to a series of experiments designed to rid him of his violent tendencies.
The controversy that surrounded Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Anthony Burgess's dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange while the film was out of circulation suggested that it was like Romper Stomper: a glamorisation of the violent, virile lifestyle of its teenage protagonist, with a hypocritical gloss of condemnation to mask delight in rape and ultra-violence. Actually, it is as fable-like and abstract as The Pilgrim's Progress, with characters deliberately played as goonish sitcom creations. The anarchic rampage of Alex (Malcolm McDowell), a bowler-hatted juvenile delinquent of the future, is all over at the end of the first act. Apprehended by equally brutal authorities, he changes from defiant thug to cringing bootlicker, volunteering for a behaviourist experiment that removes his capacity to do evil.
It's all stylised: from Burgess' invented pidgin Russian (snarled unforgettably by McDowell) to 2001-style slow tracks through sculpturally perfect sets (as with many Kubrick movies, the story could be told through decor alone) and exaggerated, grotesque performances on a par with those of Dr Strangelove (especially from Patrick Magee and Aubrey Morris). Made in 1971, based on a novel from 1962, A Clockwork Orange resonates across the years. Its future is now quaint, with Magee pecking out "subversive literature" on a giant IBM typewriter and "lovely, lovely Ludwig Van" on mini-cassette tapes. However, the world of "Municipal Flat Block 18A, Linear North" is very much with us: a housing estate where classical murals are obscenely vandalised, passers-by are rare and yobs loll about with nothing better to do than hurt people.
On the DVD: The extras are skimpy, with just an impressionist trailer in the style of the film used to brainwash Alex and a list of awards for which Clockwork Orange was nominated and awarded. The box promises soundtracks in English, French and Italian and subtitles in ten languages, but the disc just has two English soundtracks (mono and Dolby Surround 5.1) and two sets of English subtitles. The terrific-looking "digitally restored and remastered" print is letterboxed at 1.66:1 and on a widescreen TV plays best at 14:9. The film looks as good as it ever has, with rich stable colours (especially and appropriately the orangey-red of the credits and the blood) and a clarity that highlights previously unnoticed details such as Alex's gouged eyeball cufflinks and enables you to read the newspaper articles which flash by. The 5.1 soundtrack option is amazingly rich, benefiting the nuances of performance as much as the classical/electronic music score and the subtly unsettling sound effects. --Kim NewmanSee all Product description
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BE CAREFUL READING ON DUE TO POSSIBLE SPOLER AND EVEN TRIGGER.
I am a huge fan of films containing extreme violence. (Yes I do know the difference between reality and fiction) There is a comical streak to this that makes it comforting to watch. Although some scenes should have made my skin crawl, I felt only sick at seeing Alex being spat on and am pleased I wasn't eating.
I haven't read the book but I certainly like this version. There are certain messages I can see that I believe gets overlooked.
Alex's need for power. Although I should have taken pleasure from seeing a rapist being punished, I couldn't help but empathise when he was being interrogated - because it is obvious what sparks his need for power. I know there are many different opinions over this so agree to disagree. But although it may not have been the intention by the author, too many overlook the male dominance over a younger, more vulnerable man, regardless of sexuality. It is actually the same with women and young girls. They create a monster and they don't want to deal with it in any other way than by hurting them more and degrading them.
The way Alex is treated throughout the entire film shows this pattern in behaviour so that it is hard to hate him, even after he commits such crimes. I'm not the type to excuse it but the sickening behaviour of the men around him (perhaps apart from the priest) disgusted me the most. I also wished his 'Droogs' had been given the payment too. Nobody made them join in.
This is a fantastic film! I'm not easily turned off by graphic violence that others find disturbing. I did expect worse, but was not disappointed. It is great escapism and insight. Such excellent acting by Malcolm McDowell. 5 stars!
Alex (Malcom McDowell) is one of the most unlikable characters I've met. McDowell was a study in male beauty, but Alex is so repulsive that I felt strange fancying the actor, even though I knew he was just giving a performance. I think that's a compliment to his skills. Everything Alex says and does before his "treatment" drips with ugliness, even when he isn't attacking someone. He's cretinous, a vile worm. But the scientists who use him aren't spotless. Their experiments are sadistic, and the government funding them happily admit they don't care about the moral or philosophical ramifications.
Almost everyone with a position of power abuses it; Alex's social worker, for instance, gropes him and pulls his hair. The dystopia Kubrick creates feels less like a vision of the future than a hellish parallel universe, which shares some similarities with our world, but distorts and exaggerates them to an insane degree. Even with good parents, a nice home and pleasant food, Alex's evolution isn't too mysterious. Evil in this world is a readily accepted part of life. Notice how reluctant Alex's female victims are to open their doors, even when he besieges them with a cock and bull story about needing an ambulance. "Home" doesn't mean much. You're as safe in your living room as you are in a viaduct at midnight. Like all great satires A Clockwork Orange comments on our world by creating a new one which blows up its flaws so we can examine them. It's a film I prefer even to its source material, an excellent novel by Anthony Burgess which nonetheless doesn't go quite as far as Kubrick, whose cold and surreal approach is just right.
Inarguably, it made its mark, merely by being withdrawn from distribution for a significant while.
One does wonder how this served to amplify the sinister over(and under)tones of the movie. What I mean by that is, well, the old 'in-and-out' is all the latest generation know about bedding, sexual preference changes following traumatic experiences is all the more common, and thuggery - well most people simply shrug their shoulders upon hearing accounts of it.
This movie is quite unlike The Shining, which was a screenplay heavy rewritten by Kubrick to document his personal trials. A Clockwork Orange is a film adaptation of Anthony Burgess' work that has imprinted the original's alloyed language to tremendous effect.
A film that depicted trauma, and in sharing it traumatised the audience? That's up for debate (but the affirmative camp has a strong case). A movie that contributed to Kubrick being The most revered director amongst directors...absolutely.
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