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A Clockwork Orange Review...
Matt - 07/04/00

Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange has been the posterchild flick of film enthusiats and social outcasts since it's arrival in the early 70s. The movie, based on Anthony Burgess' 1962 novel, is about an ironically dark future, or more specifically, 'the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence, and Beethoven'.

The film's meaning and 'aura' has been really blurred over the years, attributed mainly to the fact that it's a fave among 'rocker' kids who like black t-shirts with cool iron-ons on them. Hey, I went to high school, I've been there. I fell into ACO the same way many people of this generation do...they see the cool imagery and recognize it as some sort of cool cult deal, and they've gotta get into it. It's pretty much that simple...unfortunately with that, we lose sight of what the film actually tells us.

Truth be told, I had posters in my room for the film before actually seeing it. I'm past my days of 'genrevision', so it's pretty funny to me in retrospect. But, that's how it went. I think it was 1996 or so...for whatever reason, interest in the film started to boom again, especially in us high school kids who were desperately seeking something from the anti-culture to grab hold to. So, the Tiffstigator and I found some poor guy's Blockbuster card outside the store, and used to it get some films for keeps. She thought she was cute picking up Breakfast at Tiffany's, while I decided it'd be a good idea to actually watch the movie I was claiming to be a fan of for the past six months.

Since then, I've been hooked on Kubrick.

The first time you watch it, you've really got to let go. It's pretty brutal. Aside from the actual content - rape scenes, and just overall mass inhumanity - the movie installs a feeling in you that this really could be society's future at the rate we're going. Now, I can go to any of the myriad of ACO sites and plagiarize what it's supposed to be about, but I'll just tell you what I got from it instead. I viewed it as a sort of commentary on society - not just Alex, the main character and all around disgusting yet brilliant human being, but even the 'good guys'. You'll see how the law generally promotes this kind of activity, almost creating an impossible circle of utter madness that can't be broken. Nothing is just.

That's part of it. The other half deals with our own free will. Alex, the main character, played by a then much-younger Malcolm McDowall, finally gets caught after a series of horrific crimes that seem to serve nothing more than his appetite for what we know as wrong. In prison, the option to undergo new special treatments to make him a 'better person' comes before him, and seeing this as his escape from behind bars, he takes it. And that's where one of the main questions ACO throws at you occurs - do we lose our humanity is we're deprived of the choice of good and evil? Truly, Alex isn't making his decisions for himself - the torturous conditioning he went through prevents him from doing what comes naturally. In effect, all the treatment has done is turn him into a machine that'll degenerate if it goes against it's programming.

All in all, A Clockwork Orange has stood the test of time and remains a extremely insightful - if not overtly distubing - commentary on ourselves, our society, and the path we're going.

That's what you get if you look for the message. But after all, this is a Kubrick film, and as with most, there's a ton of profound imagery that'll stick with you for a lifetime....

Korova Milkbar -- Where Alex and his cronies hang out, either to plot the night's chicanery or to reflect on it. There's a bar in the city here called the Korova, which mimics the place right down to the nude white mannequins. It's a pretty cool place if you don't mind kids dressed up like mimes asking you for a dollar.

Alex's Treatment -- This is one of the fave images to make movie posters out of - Alex is forced to watch a series of absolutely horrific movies to install a feeling of sickness in him about any kind of violence. His eyes are clamped open and constantly eye-dropped, so he has no chance for even the slightest aversion to the terrible images on the screen.

Bum Beating -- To help set the stage for what Alex and friends are all about, they absolutely pummel a bum who asks for change. In a ironic twist of fate, Alex would later meet the same bum after going through his treatments, thus climaxing one of the more interesting aspects of the movie.

I used to have that poster on the right in my room. It was fucking giant, had to be at least 5' tall. Eventually I realized that it was too scary for my bedroom full of Star Wars figures and fake palm trees, so it went down.

Course, you can look at ACO from an entirely different perspective. You can just let go of your humanity and go for the ride. It's impossible to call this a fun movie, but it's definitely an interesting one, and certainly worth watching at least once in your life.

I've also read Burgess' novel...which is in the same vain as the movie, but different altogether. People seem to be split on whether the book was really a classic...I for one really liked it. If you're looking at it from a 'what's this supposed to mean?' perspective, the book does a better job. If you're looking at it from a 'Alex looks mad cool with that shit around his eyes' perspective, watch the movie. Just not on your first date with a cute girl, ay malchicks? :)

- Matt