Few American directors were able to work within the studio system of American film industry with the independence that Stanley Kubrick achieved. By steadily building a reputation as a film-maker of international importance, he gained full artistic control over his films, guiding the production of each of them from the early stages of planning and scripting through post-production. Kubrick was able to capitalize the wide artistic freedom that the major studios have accorded him because he learned the business of film-making from the ground-up.
A Dark Theme
Kubrick's movies always reiterates a particular theme: man must retain his humanity if he is to survive in a dehumanized, highly mechanized world. After his optimistic view of life in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick shows a dark future, which seemed to be the less promising one. In 2001, the machine becomes human, whereas in A Clockwork Orange he shows man can become a machine through brain-washing and thought control.
Kubrick's ultra-violent movie, which was withdrawn from British distribution within a year of its release due to oppositions, remains as a paradoxical testament to the manipulative obsessions of its director. The story is phrased in the appealingly hybrid language by Anthony Burgess (who in 1962 based his brutally comic novel on a real life incident of 20 years earlier).
The setting of A Clockwork Orange is Britain in the near future, where teenage thug Alex DeLarge enjoys a daily routine of crime, sex, and Beethoven. Caught an imprisoned for murder, he volunteers for experimental shock therapy available as a government scheme to reduce prison overcrowding, which brainwashes him so effectively that he becomes in his turn a helpless victim incapable of defending himself and nauseated by all his former passions.
The Two Extremes
In Clockwork Orange, Kubrick has taken to extremes his habitual attention to every detail of the shaping and presentation of his work by, deciding not to let it be shown at all. On the other the "suppressed" film has validated its own theme by refusing to be manipulated out of existence. Instead, its notoriety has served only to enhance its creator's reputation, thanks to the seductive skill and extraordinary imapct with which the tale is told.
The extreme effect of the tale is more pantomime than prophecy, but it defines with hilarious clarity a society of fevered excess where the older generation clings listlessly to a dismal past while the present is ruthlessly pillaged by the young. The erotic images has become a commonplace domestic wallpaper, while music has become mechanic and formulaic, even the classics converted to a remorseless clock rhythm.
The Decaying Environment
In Clockwork Orange's weary, decaying environment, animalism offers the only reliable truth. With joyful energy, Kubrick's film presents a torrential, dancing flow of movement, celebrating the simplicity of brute strength. A superb fight sequence quickly establishes the mood: in a derelict opera house lit by huge shafts of light, tow gangs confront each other gleefully and plunge into a ballet of dazzling violence.
"The story can be taken on two levels," said Kubrick : as a sociological treatment of whether behavioral psychology will lead to evils on the part of a totalitarian government, or as a kind of psychological fairy-tale. And i don't believe that audiences in general will see Clockwork Orange other than as a fairy-tale, which it resembles in its symmetry, with each encountered again at the end.
Kubrick's Visual Language
Repeatedly Kubrick opens his scenes with immense tracking shots, like the low-angle spin around the record shop just ahead of Alex on the hunt, or the triumphant sweep through the wards with the psychiatrist and her trolley of equipments. Scenes of urgency and impending disaster are filmed with a hand-held camera: Alex's fight with the cat lady, a struggle in torrential rain, a march towards retribution in muddy woodland.
Kubrick uses subjective shots, identifying us with Alex so that we too are crushed to the floor, lie powerless in hospital, or most unsettling of all, fall in despair from a window to be smashed on the pavement below. This emphasis ensures that Alex has our sympathy despite the extremes of his behavior, that he remains the misunderstood sufferer from social injustice.
A Haunting Portrait
There's a lot of hypocrisy about what the human personality really is, the Super-ego which identifies with Alex all the time. This darker side of our subconscious find its release in Alex : he makes nothing out to be better than it is, he is completely honest. Soon on the defensive, that the film might inspire waves of delinquency, the director with characteristic discretion has temporarily retired Alex as best as he can from the public gaze. Bu he compiled a portrait too potent to be forgotten. Alex's tortured face, enfolded in straps and wires, his eyelids held open by pitiless clamps, is one of the most haunting and vital apparitions the cinema will ever have to offer.
A Clockwork Orange - Imdb