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victim to its own hype because of its history, the reaction to its unveiling, the oscars, the was it banned or just withdrawn?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 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
Kubrick at his finest. It's a disturbing movie in parts, even by today's brutal standards - dark and twisted with detached casual hyper-violence that is terrifying in its delivery. But its also funny in parts, captivating and thought provoking and, at times, beautiful and poetic. The psychedelic imagery, surreal scenery and eccentric characters add to its depth. Throw in some outstanding acting and a message that is probably more relevant today than it was at the time of the film's release and you have a great film, even if it is difficult to watch at times. Certainly not family viewing, but a fantastic iconic film with a strong message and scenes that will be ingrained into your brain for years to come...
on 22 September 2005
"There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence". Strange beginning for a movie, don't you think?. Disregarding that, that's the way in which this movie starts, and more or less what you can expect from the rest of "A Clockwork Orange".
This film tells the story of Alex (played by Malcolm McDowell), a teenager that has his own gang, and that does all kind of despicable things, from robbery and battery to rape, all without remorse of any kind. This band of outlaws has its own slang ("nadsat", a mixture of English and Russian) and dress code, and only one law: violence. Due to a fall out with the rest of the gang, Alex is caught by the police after commiting murder, and condemned to spend 14 years in jail.
Looking for a way to get out of jail early, Alex volunteers for a ground-breaking experiment, that supposedly transforms criminals into law-abiding citizens. He is chosen, and "conditioned" against violence, the end result being that he feels nauseous merely by the idea of committing a violent or sexual act. A secondary effect is that he now hates the music he had always loved, Beethoven's 9th symphony.
As a consequence of all this, Alex gets an early release from jail, and is thrown into the world without any kind of defense mechanism. The truth is, he has to be a model citizen because he doesn't have any other option. In a way, Alex is like a machine (a "clockwork orange"), because his actions are preordained. But how will the world treat this new Alex?. And do his actions have any kind of merit, if they aren't inspired on free will?. You can answer one of those two questions quite easily if you watch "A Clockwork Orange". The other involves a conclusion you will have to reach for yourself after watching the movie and reflecting on it for a while.
A word of caution is in order, though. "A Clockwork Orange" includes many explicit sex scenes, lots of violence, and parts that will make you recoil in disgust. If you think I'm exaggerating, take into account that even nowadays this movie is not for sale to persons under age 18, and that when it was first released in 1971 it received an "X" rating.
Finally, I want to point out that this movie is based on a book of the same name written by Anthony Burgess, that significantly differs from the film, especially in what regards to the ending. Furthermore, I think it is worthwhile to highlight the fact that Burgess didn't like his own book too much, and absolutely hated Stanley Kubrick's filmic version of it. Unfortunately for him, the movie helped to promote the book, and "A Clockwork Orange" has becomed Burgess' most well-known work.
All in all, and as a conclusion, I think this film is worth watching, and I recommend you to do so if you believe you can stomach the violent parts in order to eventually understand the message beneath them. I prefer to watch other kind of films, but I understand that this is a classic, and that as such it should be watched at least once.
This 1971 dystopian social drama focuses on Alex DeLarge, the leader of his "droogs", in a futuristic London. Alex and his friends regularly skip school to get high on "milk-plus" (milk laced with drugs), to engage in evenings of "ultra-violence" and petty theft. But all is not well, so how long can his carefree days last?
The story is timeless being about crime, rehabilitation and retribution. The opening credits still create the feel of an epic movie and the inappropriate [?] use of Beethoven [amongst others] and well loved musical standards such as ‘Singing in the Rain’ adds an eerie quality to this bleak vision of the future. The twisted morality of Alex is clear in the opening ‘beating’ scene and the following fight with he Nazi styled Billyboy Droogs and the accompanying ‘classical’ music has been much copied. With garish, psychedelic decor and its own inbuilt language, it creates a credible world.
The single disc opens to a main menu offering jump to a scene, theatrical trailer, awards, languages [most European and heard of hearing] and play.
With both male and female frontal nudity, lots of swearing, graphic violence, rape and consenting sex from the start, this is an obvious 18 rating and is still not for the squeamish, remaining very disturbing.
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 6 March 2004
This is just an amazing film, that has to be seen to be believed. Before seeing this, I already knew Kubrick was a superb director- 2001, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Lolita, Dr Strangelove... all incredible films. However, Clockwork Orange is just in a different league, an absolutely flawless adaptation of Anthony Burgess' 1962 novel. The book itself is wonderfully well written(and I HIGHLY recommend you read it), and what makes this film a work of genius rather than a merely good film is that Kubrick absolutely does justice to it(esp. with the superb pidgin Russian dialogue of Alex). In terms of quality, I personally cannot find anything to criticise about it, and in terms of quality I would rate only the Godfather Trilogy(I and II especially) higher.
It is common knowledge that this film was highly controversial when it came out. Indeed the violence committed by main character Alex DeLarge and his "droogs" is incredibly shocking; particularly in the first half of the film. So if you are not one for violence, this film is probably not for you. However, do NOT take this as a film that is just about violence, rape and murder and is intended for cheap shocks. For Kubrick (as for Burgess with his book), Clockwork Orange was intended to be much more far-reaching- a debate between free-will and state control. It is a satire of our society, taking a deep look on our own emotions, desires and values. In particular, the second half, where Alex undergoes the Lodovico treatment, is brainwashed into repressing his previous emotions and desires, and then on release finds a society hostile to him; highlights precisely what Clockwork Orange was intended to mean. What is brilliant about this film, Kubrick stays absolutely focused on this line. It is true to the novel, and the messages that come out of the film is one that we can all relate to. That politicians are inherently cynical, concerned with their image, whatever the cost. That we, as a society, are equally capable of the same raging irrational desires and emotions as Alex and his droogs. That without free-will, the individual is nothing. That excessive state control is a danger to the well-being of all individuals. That the price of our liberty is one of eternal vigilance, not just against other individuals such as Alex and his droogs(as in a Hobbesian system) but also against the state that is supposed to act in our best interests. What comes out of this film are hugely powerful lessons for us all- and as such, Clockwork Orange is an incredibly powerful film, capable of exciting and perturbing at the same time, allowing us to fully comprehend Kubrick's message.
Malcolm McDowell is superb as Alex- a sharp, ruthless and demonic gangleader in the first half, becoming a vulnerable lost boy searching for acceptance after the Lodovico treatment. Only a versatile actor could have pulled this off, and McDowell does this in spades. Other roles come across as amusingly British, and I completely agree with the assertion there is classic Carry On and British sitcom within some of the characters, notably the characters of the prison warden, the writer and Deltoid. These provide sublimely OTT support for the classical actor McDowell. Yet these do not blunt Kubrick/Burgess' message in any way whatsoever, if anything they soften you up for the shocks to come later(violence, Lodovico, Alex's release etc).
The visuals are stunningly perfect and unforgettable, despite their very dated look, and if anything they help ensure you get the message. As for the music- well, lots to say on that! Fantastic, as with all Kubrick(2001, Eyes Wide Shut et alia). A mix of wonderful classical, and synthesiser arrangements(very very cutting edge for 1971). I was happy with Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, the superb synth arrangement(by John Carlos)of Rossini's William Tell Overture, Rossini's Thieving Magpie Overture, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, and Gene Kelly's Singing in the Rain- yet by far the best, the Ludwig Van. Yes, Symphony No.9, used superbly throughout, and again true to the novel. It was watching this film that made me realise the sheer genius of Beethoven's Ninth- and of Kubrick's filmmaking technique. What makes Kubrick a memorable director is his use of music- and in Clockwork Orange, as with 2001 especially, the music just seems to fit absolutely naturally. For an already good film, the perfection of the soundtrack(and Beethoven's Ninth) is the icing on an incredible, home-made cake(even more incredible, Clockwork was indeed made entirely in the UK).
This film is, quite simply, a work of genius. Certainly by far the best film by a wonderful director. Many good films have been made- yet films that just cry out "perfection" come very rarely. I would put Clockwork Orange within this bracket. There is literally nothing you can criticise about it artistically. The only thing, this has to be watched as a comment on society, not merely a extra large dose of "ultraviolence"- as it is only then that the genius of Kubrick(and also of Burgess' novel) will shine out on the screen. But this is A MUST BUY- you will not be disappointed, you will find yourself challenging any assumptions you had before and you will be amazed at the sheer brilliance of this film.
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.
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 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.