Confessions of a Film Junkie: A Review of “A Clockwork Orange”
By: Brian Cotnoir
The best way that I can describe Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 Masterpiece “A Clockwork Orange” is a work of cinematic art and insanity. Based off of an Antony Burgess novel of the same name, “A Clockwork Orange” is a narration-type film and tells the story of Alexander DeLarge, a rogue, young sociopath whose life revolves around violence, rape, and Ludwig Van Beethoven. Alex’s life of crime and shenanigans come to a sudden halt when he is arrested and charged with murder. He agrees to have his 14 year sentence reduced to 2-weeks if he agrees to take part in an experimental rehabilitation procedure known as the “Ludivico Technique”. Alex completes his rehabilitation procedure, but he quickly finds out that even though he is a free man the Ludivico Technique has left him with some negative lifelong consequences.
This film was highly controversial at the time of its release. Often I’ve seen it ranked on film lists of the “Most Controversial Films of All-Time”, but I’ve never really seen what’s so controversial about it. I’ve never really met a lot of people who are fans of this film and a lot of them have told me they don’t like it because “it’s too violent” and “it’s pro-rape”. I can understand the violence aspect, but this film is NOT pro-rape. Something I always like to point out is this film never actually shows scenes of rape. It is implied throughout the film that rape is committed, but the scenes just show Alex and his “droogs” standing above a naked woman, right before it cuts to another scene. So right there you can rule out that this film is “pro-rape”.
I read the book before I saw this film and there are a few key differences between the book and the film that I feel should be pointed out. In the book Alex is only 15-years-old, but for obvious reasons they couldn’t use a 15-year-old actor in the movie. I think Malcolm McDowell, still does an excellent job for his portrayal of the young sociopath, Alex DeLarge. Another difference between the book and the film that it is not really addressed in the film is that the story takes place in a virtually lawless future. A lot of people I know who’ve seen this film have told me that they though the story took place in present-time, but the film is actually set in a bleak and dreary future where teenage gangs roam the streets at night creating mayhem and wreaking havoc.
Another thing I like about this film is the slang. In the novel, Author Anthony Burgess invented a fictional language for Alex and his droogs to use. The language used in the book and the film is called “Nadsat”, and essentially it’s a fusion between Cockney and Russian slang (ex/ head = “Gulliver”, a young woman = “Ptitsa”, blood = “the red red kroovy”, sex = “the old in out in out”). I find the language used in the film to be both fun and amusing.
My favorite part of “A Clockwork Orange”, hands down, is the music. The soundtrack to the film includes many great classical composers such as Rossini and Beethoven, and the most beautiful classical covers done by Wendy Carlos. The Soundtrack to “A Clockwork Orange” is my favorite movie soundtrack of all-time. The music is just so wonderful and spectacular it’s as if the gods have opened up the gates to heaven release a euphoric bliss on to the entire world.