Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd :
My Favorite Films #1
Stanley Kubrick's (A Clockwork Orange)
"I was cured alright!"
It is political, violent, symbolic, hilarious, iconic, and a true masterpiece from one of the greatest directors of all time.
I have seen this movie so many times, that revisiting it now feels like putting on a comfy warm hoodie that represents something close to your heart, like a favorite sports team.
So in the early days of DVD my Dad was a member of Columbia house, which meant that we would get bunches of random movies in the mail each month. And one night in high school I randomly pulled this off the shelf, and saw this strange twisted tale for the first time ... About naturally fiendish man that the corrections system tries to transform into an upstanding citizen ... A Clockwork Orange. Orange being something natural and Clockwork being mechanical and always ending up ticking the same way. So despite the tampering of the doctors with the ludovico technique, Alex Delarge will always be this twisted, horny, guy that loves his snake and Beethoven.
'Real horrorshow' ' Got a bit of pain in the gulliver'
Throughout school A Clockwork Orange turned into my go to movie, for when I wanted to watch some crazy shit with friends. The film introduced me to my favorite director before I ever grasped the concept of how it is the director that really shapes the vision and message of a film. It was not until after I saw that iconic name on the cover of 'The Shining' and '2001 a Space Odyssey' that I put together that this unique and brilliant style of filmmaking was the genius of Stanley Kubrick.
So is it weird that I praise a movie about these droogs who break into homes and assault and rape woman. Well for me I never took these violent images seriously so they did not feel offensive. I always thought this was because of the quirky silliness of the synthetic classical music score. But in this latest re watch I noticed just how hilariously juvenile the first section of the movie is. And it is amazing to me how these images can be seen differently by people, for instance I had a friend in college who actually felt ill during the rape scenes and had to stop watching. I had never considered that some people may not catch how silly the presentation is, and just view the acts as being disturbing.
"Viddy well brother, viddy well"
In the scene where Billy Boys gang is about to rape a woman on stage, they are basically playing a childish game of tug of war with her naked body. The droog named Dim is the most childish in his behavior, like when he is pretending to drive a car while waiting for Alex in the lobby of his apartment. How about that scene of them racing in the car with front projection behind them, they look like a bunch of kids on a roller coaster. How childish can you get with the penises being drawn all over the walls. There is penis imagery all over the film... likely hinting that is mostly what Alex thinks with.
The whole presentation feels like a zany circus with bright colors and costumes. You will notice Kubrick uses the camera to pull back the shot in a couple of scenes to reveal these things, like drawing back a curtain. The look of the film is so unique with these concrete apartment buildings with trash everywhere, give it a real dystopian feel.
I adore how the film begins with us instantly being jerked into this bizarre setting, when the screen is flooded with this orangy red color and we get this amazingly strong music that feel so intimidating. Then Kubrick cuts to Alex's eye and slowly pushes back to unveil the korova milk bar. So much fantastic symbolic imagery throughout the film with eyes and pyramids. There is this distinct 70s feel with how people dress, how tacky the decorating in Alex's house is, and the words on the walls of the milk bar. But it also feels futuristic at the same time with all these bright colors and painted faces.
'O, and what's so stinking about it.'
Let's face it, Malcolm McDowell was born to play Alex. He is absolutely perfect. And Kubrick put him thru hell while playing the part by having him get spit on, dunked in water, and clamping his eyes open which lead to his eye getting scratched.
There are so many amazing details that I want to list:
- The close up of Alex talking to the hobo in the beginning, and you can see the water vapor coming out of his mouth due to the cold
- That long shot under the bridge where the droogs have these shadows that stretch all the way down the screen
- Alex dancing around signing as he is getting ready to assault the writer's wife
- The 2001 record at the music store
- The girls at the record store with the penis popsicles, and then the high speed three some scene to William Tell Overture
- Alex's social worker drinking the teeth water, and then grabbing Alex's crotch
- Alex attacking the droogs and them falling into the water
- The cat ladies house and her giant rocking penis statue
- The Jesus crucification imagery, and Alex saying how he imagined himself as as pillaging Roman
- Those amazing shots of the writer in pain at the beginning and end of the movie
- The ludovico technique, and afterwards when he feels sickened when trying to reach up and grab the woman
- Alex's face smashing into the plate of spaghetti. And he plays right into the writers trap despite the fact that he can tell he should get the heck out of there
- How about that crazy nadsat language, I ended up reading the entire book aloud to help understand all the wild British/Russian slang
- You will notice the score during the pull out shot in the milk bar sounds just like the opening score in 'The Shining'
'I am signing in the rain, just signing in the rain, what a glorious feeling I am happy again.'
The story feels like a fable, as all Alex's misdeeds come back to haunt him at the end, but this time he is helpless to do anything about it. But with the writer trying to torture him, he ends up being the victim of the writer and the Government's treatment. So this is where politics come into play as he befriends the head of state and poses for the cameras at the end, surrounded by these huge speakers playing his favorite music. Since he is a Clockwork Orange, his nature brings him right back to his fiendish thoughts despite what he has gone thru, as he imagines having sex as a spectacle, surrounded by this crowd of what look like elite members of society.
He was cured alright ; )
Thanks for reading and please give this post a like! Happy movie watching ... SKOL!