Sunday, 21 April 2013

A Clockwork Orange (1971) - ★★

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writers: Stanley Kubrick (Screenplay), Anthony Burgess (Novel)
Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Warren Clarke, John Clive, Adrienne Corri

A Clockwork Orange is a tricky movie for me to review. I'm in the very small minority of people who don't like the movie. I found that its use of violence was overkill. I find Kubrick admirable in the way that he refused to conform to the typical standards and practices in film-making... I just think the film could have used more subtlety, rather than continuously show explicit beatings. (Then that would be reductive to the shocking impact... etc.) Trust me people, I've heard it all, and those who adore this film are probably right. They 'get it.' I don't. I just couldn't like this movie. I was too shocked to be even remotely entertained.

Set in future Britain, this story follows a charismatic delinquent named Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell). He runs around with his gang of thugs, beating and raping anyone they please. Eventually he is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society's crime problem.

Violence, murder and rape are repeated over and over in this film. I don't see how the artistic vision of Kubrick separates A Clockwork Orange from other disgustingly graphic films such as 120 Days of Sodom. It's just too much. A film riddled with violence is as bad as a romance film riddled with sex scenes. We just don't need to see it constantly. Most people love it and say it's one of the greatest films ever made, I just didn't care for it at all.

In one scene they break into a home and terrorize a man and his wife for fun. They strip her down and rape her whilst Alex sings in glee 'Singing in the Rain.' The fact that they're raping and scarring this woman for life becomes secondary to the enjoyment the men are having whilst doing it. I know it is intended to show how sick and twisted these people are, but that doesn't make it a masterpiece of cinema. Just because it objects to subtlety doesn't make it a genius way to convey a message.

With that aside, McDowell gives a bone-chilling performance. He did a great job at being one of the most inhumane characters in the history of cinema. I loved the music played throughout the film, which heightened the incredible futuristic set production. The costumes were fantastic and original too. I could only enjoy the things that should come second in a movie, which is why I've given it such a low score.

I can just see people rolling their eyes as they're reading this review, thinking that I'm a fool who can't see the bigger picture. The fact is that the themes and messages that Kubrick tries to convey are weighed down by how ruthlessly they're presented. A Clockwork Orange will be debated for as long as movies continue to be made. While 80% of the world thinks this is a clever and legendary film, I'm happy to say I disagree. To each his own I guess!


  1. "I find it strange that anyone can enjoy such an abominable film."

    I don't think enjoyment is necessarily synonymous with greatness. Clockwork is a prime example of that. Or almost any holocaust film. For the character's sake, I don't think we could appreciate the second half of the film without the ultraviolent first act.

    1. I wasn't trying to say that 'enjoyment' and 'greatness' go hand in hand. There are people who enjoy watching this film and I find that strange, that's what I meant. For me, I can enjoy a good film no matter what the subject. The saddest movies ever made are enjoyable to watch for me, such as 'Schindler's List' and 'Come and See,' because of how perfect they are in every aspect. A Clockwork Orange just didn't have that effect on me, thus the low score. To each his own I guess.

  2. I can understand why you did not care for this movie. It does have moments that are disturbing, but I feel the impact of it's core message would be not as strong without them. I'm glad you dance to a different beat and not just go along with what others think. Still with 4 Oscar nominations(Including Best Picture) and featured on every list put out by AFI. Yeah you are in the minority.

    1. I'm still shocked at how the Academy Awards even recognised the film. They were usually uber conservative... I guess Midnight Cowboy paved the way and opened the doors for the explicit films to follow. This is a good film in soooo many ways... it's just not my cup of tea.