Sunday, 9 March 2014

''A Clockwork Orange'' (1971 movie)- Review

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Released: 1971
Country: United States, United Kingdom

Genres: Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi

Rating: 5 out of 5


The very thing that we see in ''A Clockwork Orange'' is the face of the protagonist, Alex, staring in a creepy way. As the camera zooms out, we see that Alex, along with his friends, is sitting amidst unique statues, and we come to know from Alex's narration that he and his friends spend their evenings involving themselves in ''ultra-violence''. What is ultra-violence? We come to know that very soon.

From the actions of Alex and his friends, we can instantly understand that they are complete sociopaths. They mercilessly beat a drunk old man, and break into the house of a writer, brutally beating him and raping his wife. These first few scenes are so graphic, so disturbing that it instantly makes us hate Alex.

Stanley Kubrick presents ''A Clockwork Orange'' in a wonderful way. Amazing set decorations, scores, disturbing, sometimes terrifying, and with an extremely powerful performance from Malcolm McDowell, this is certainly an unforgettable film.

Alex and his friends spend all their evenings doing such horrible, horrible, horrible things. His parents have absolutely no idea that their son is such a horrible person. Alex has apparently told them that he spends his evenings doing odd jobs, and his parents trust him. He skips school saying that he has pain in the ''gulliver'' (meaning ''head'', it's one of the several slangs used by Alex throughout the film). Alex acts like a boss to his friends, mercilessly beating them if they don't act according to his orders, which makes his friends secretly detest him.

Alex's life changes when he breaks into the health farm, owned by a middle-aged woman, an tries to rape the woman. When the woman tries to defend herself, he kills her, and when trying to escape, his friends attack him with a bottle of milk, and then run away. Alex is arrested, and is sentenced to 14-year imprisonment. Alex tries to impress prison officers, and has a desire to get out of the prison. He has recently heard of a new method of treatment, the ''Ludovico'' treatment, that apparently destroys the criminal impulses of the criminal, and makes sure that he never has to return to prison again. Eventually, Alex manages to impress the Minister of the Interior, who selects Alex to be the subject to the Ludovico treatment. Alex is delighted, thinking that he will never have to go back to prison. However, once the treatment starts, it turns out to be extremely painful and torturous: he is shown films with intense torture scenes, and it is arranged that he can not close his eyelids. 

The view of this treatment? The criminal will become so sickened after viewing these footage that whenever he has any criminal impulses, he will feel sick, and thus he cannot involve in anything criminal. That is, his criminal impulses have not been destroyed; only, he will involuntarily feel sick whenever he wants to do something bad; he has not really turned a ''decent'' person, and nor has his criminal impulses been brought under control; it has only been made sure that he is not able to do any criminal activities

After the end of the cruel treatment, Alex returns to his house, only to discover that his room is now occupied by a lodger who is now like a son to his parents. His parents are not very happy about his return, and ultimately, Alex is compelled to leave the house. And then, all those people whom Alex had once tortured: the old beggar, his friends, and the writer- come back to his life once again, ready to take revenge and Alex has to pay for his past actions...

Here arises a complicated question. Are the audience supposed to feel pity for Alex? The Ludovico treatment was an extremely cruel procedure. It did something quite different from what it promised to do. Sure, the criminal who went through this treatment won't be able to commit any crime again, but his criminal impulse hasn't been destroyed; instead, through a very cruel procedure, it is arranged that the criminal's body will react tremendously, that is, a sickening feeling will grasp him, whenever he has the urge to do anything criminal. But that doesn't destroy the criminal impulse. Does the protagonist, Alex, actually feel any remorse for his deeds? Just after going through such a cruel and painful treatment, he is shunned by the society. The way it is presented, it does arise pity. But then. If we remember all those horrible things Alex did in the past, if we think of the people whose lives he had destroyed, we obviously feel that extreme hatred again. He got what he deserved. Through his actions, his family suffered a lot, and that's the reason his family cannot accept him. The other people, the old man and the writer, had been severely tortured by Alex.

The treatment certainly destroys Alex's life, but does he actually feel any remorse for his past deeds? Apparently, he starts feeling sorry for himself, but isn't this what he deserved? He had tortured so many people, he had destroyed the lives of so many people. By the end of the film, I guess most of the audience will be left with an intense hatred for Alex. Sure, we feel pity a few times for him, but overall, the hatred for him is so strong that the pity will perhaps have no effect.

Malcolm McDowell's performance as Alex is excellent. The screenplay is excellent, and the overall film is really disturbing at times. This is my third Stanley Kubrick film (the two other Kubrick films that I have watched are ''Paths of Glory'' and ''The Shining'') and I guess that he will become one of my favorite directors. ''A Clockwork Orange'' is such a brilliant, engrossing, yet disturbing, an extremely unforgettable film.

5 out of 5


No comments:

Post a Comment