A Clockwork Orange Movie Review

Kubrick was a beatnik poet. His work was plagued with metaphors, and the disease of hidden meaning was always turned to his advantage. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, he had almost a precognisance about the worry of the future that the millennium has exhibited so well for us. In The Shining, he taught us that, to a degree, all fear came from oneself. In Full Metal Jacket, he said that war was the ultimate destructor of the psyche. In Eyes Wide Shut, his final opus, he told us that love, handled like revenge, can only have destructive consequences.

The message, for those of you people who were not able to discern it past the violence in A Clockwork Orange, was the same of the Hindu construct known as Karma: what goes around, comes around.

A Clockwork Orange tells the bittersweetly ironic tale of sociopath Alex DeLarge (MacDowell) who lives for two things: Beethoven's 9th and what he calls "the old ultraviolence." The film opens with one of the strangest sequences ever captured: the beating of an infirm to the tune of "Singing in the Rain." From there on in, it only gets both odder and more schizophrenic.

When Alex is caught for murdering a phallus-obsessed rich eccentric with a large porcelain penis (take that, Freud!), he is shipped off to a British penitentiary where be becomes the subject of an experimental program of conditioning designed to make him "a clockwork orange"... someone who is incapable of doing harm unto anyone.

As he is released from the prison, karma begins to take effect. The infirm from the beginning attacks him. He is rescued by two police officers who were former cohorts that he double-crossed, and, in turn, they beat him and leave him by the side of the road. Beaten and nearly blinded, he wanders along the road... only to find himself at the house of a woman that he raped. The woman has died, but the husband is incredibly bitter and locks him in a room... to listen to Beethoven's 9th (which he cannot stand as a side effect of the conditioning).

A Clockwork Orange is a film that, from beginning to end, drips irony from its tongue. It is a brilliant, darkly poetic work that is able to both enrapture and disgust. If you can get over being disgusted, enjoy.


A Clockwork Orange Rating

" Essential "

Rating: R, 1971


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