A Clockwork Orange - Monstrosity of Illusion

                                         "Art is dangerous. It is one of the attractions: when it ceases to be dangerous you don’t want it." - Anthony Burgess. Burgess’s thinking is most evident in his disturbing 1962 novel titled "A Clockwork Orange", dramatized by the late Stanley Kubrick. Despite the fact that, i liked this movie and touted as a must watch by many critics, i may still need to give a substantial thought before recommending it to anyone else. The theme and overall idea behind its execution may not be digestible to a conventional stomach. What makes it troublesome is not the violence itself, but the film's suggestion that violence is an inherently human characteristic, and to take that potential away from someone is to, in effect, make him less than human. 

                                            A Clockwork Orange is brutally satirical, and raises some valid points. A quote from the movie says, “What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?” It says , we  all are mechanical clockworks ; man choose to be good not because he want to , but because being bad comes with paying a price for it (punishment).

    Through a first person narrative, the film traces the adventures of its hero Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell), and his gang of Droogs. The film is set in England in the near future -- a future which vaguely reflects our own, but it seems that society has started to crumble, and at night the streets are overrun with teenage gangs who run free of parental control. The movie is told in three acts. First comes the ultra-violence part,   where he beats the poor and homeless, then invades houses of the rich for rape and murder.  Alex hates school and education, but admires Beethoven, whose genius music he associates with sexually-driven violence.

                     The second part is 'Prison.' Alex is sent to prison for murder. After being brainwashed into a revulsion against sex and violence, he is returned to society, where he becomes a victimized robot, a passive man with no will or desire of his own. The third part involves the rehabilitation of Alex. And so he is released into the world where he runs into all the people he harassed as a young hoodlum, including the drunk beggar, the husband of one of his rape victims. Alex is unable to defend himself in the evil world he helped create, and he becomes the victim.  He is, as Burgess coined the term, a clockwork orange -- seemingly a healthy and vital human on the outside, but inside he is programmed, no longer able to make choices for himself. 

           Many have watched A Clockwork Orange without understanding what it all means. And for those who take everything presented on screen in a straightforward manner, a certain amount of confusion will result. It is not easy to adsorb or digest. Oddly, the sex and violence are easier to take than the razor-sharp edge of Kubrick's satire and the corresponding accuracy when addressing the issue of the dehumanization of people.

                             Kubrick is a master artist with a brilliant vision when it comes to imagery and tone. Throughout his 50-year career, and especially in his great films, director Stanley Kubrick had a penchant for taking the novels of others and re-shaping them to fit his own vision.  He also uses the music in an especially brilliant way. John Alcott's camera supervision is outstanding and inventive. 

                            Never has such a vile character been so charismatic and attractive as Alex. McDowell's performance is cunning and lethal in its sincerity. He can be brash, funny, horrifying or sympathetic. His character has a long and twisted arc as he travels from hedonist to beaten zombie.

                          One of the first things that will strike anyone watching A Clockwork Orange today is how thoroughly modern it looks. A Clockwork Orange is in no way dated, and the issues it addresses are as urgent today as they were four decades ago. Part of the reason for the movie's contemporary look is Kubrick's forward-thinking philosophy of film making. "A Clockwork Orange" might correctly be called dangerous only if one doesn't respond to anything else in the film except the violence.   

                           In my opinion Kubrick has made a movie that exploits only the mystery and variety of human conduct. Since it refuses to use the emotions conventionally , it is termed as a movie for a 'psycho.' 'A Clockwork Orange' demands intellectual grip rather than emotions. For this reason, it should be considered as landmark of modern cinema. 

                  'A Clockwork Orange' is a brilliantly dark poetic work, which will still rattle nerves for years to come, and one of the disorienting and unusual movie experience for a adult viewer.     


A Clockwork Orange - Imdb                                              


vinay said...

Its my most favorite Stanley Kubrick movie.
You are right it is in no way dated, it doesn't matter whether you watch it today or if you had watched it 40 years back or if you gonna watch it 40 years later......

Deepak Karthik said...

One of the disturbing and crap movie that i have ever seen :D

Arun Kumar said...

@ Vinay, Thanks for your comment

@Deepak, Disturbing? yes, Crap movie? I don't think so. But,Kubrick always divided movie viewers, either to love and praise his work, or to hate his work.

Anonymous said...

Like the way you narrated and moreover, liked the way you took things in your stride [referring to your comment] :)