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Must-See Movie Reviews From Before the Grave

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

"Goodness is something to be chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man."

Alex DeLarge an adolescent in a futuristic mildly dystopian society.  Who has a penchant for three things: sex, violence, and Beethoven.  He and his three friends commit random acts of atrocity during the night.  While attempting to live mild-mannered lives during the day.  Naturally though, this can't last.  On one of these violent outings Alex is arrested for murder.  And volunteers for an experimental treatment, designed to rehabilitate criminals and release them after two weeks.  But is he really cured?


Initial Impressions:

Simon: 4 FREAKING SCI-FI FILMS IN A ROW. 3 of which are from the 70's. Curse you, random draw system! In spite of this betrayal, I am very excited to watch A Clockwork Orange for the first time. Being a huge fan of Mr. Kubrick, and because of the legacy this film has created. It promises to be a truly fascinating experience.


Bennett: I neglected to write an initial impression, thereby making this section very boring.


Simon's Take:


I've always enjoyed Stanley Kubrick's films. He has a way of making just about every scene mesmerising in it's own way, and usually defies common tropes in favor of the unexpected.  A Clockwork Orange is no exception.

Last I checked, this film is considered the second most controversial film of all time.  I can't recall if its due to its graphic violent and sexual content (which earned the film an X rating on release), or if it's due to the message the film puts out.  While most of it would be considered less shocking nowadays, it was interesting watching the film with that knowledge. There's a very playful satirical veneer over the film's more troubling moments, making you feel like you really are viewing the world through a psychopathic lens, and despite how horrible the character of Alex actually is, you will find yourself sympathizing with him by the end.

The film seemed to be an ethics lesson, raising the question of "if you remove someone's ability to choose, have they really changed?" And the film does a very good job of showcasing the answer.  What I would have liked to see an answer to, however,  is the question "if someone abuses the right to choice, do they really deserve it in the first place?"  I found it interesting that this question was never raised throughout the whole film, as I found it to be the most intriguing, but no matter.

One thing to note about the film, is its extremely weird style.  The film came out in 1971, and was meant to illustrate a futuristic society.  This was something that was done rather well in Kubrick's prior work "2001: A Space Odyssey."  It still held on to some of that '60s in the future' vibe, but never to the point of being distracting.  And it also presented ideas that are common today.  But Clockwork Orange just feels like it got stuck transitioning.  The whole film has a retro 70's feel to it, full of strangely shaped furniture, garish colors, and bizarre clothing styles.   Add that to the abundance of classical music, and the "Nadsat" slang that crops up throughout the film, and it's hard to tell what the film is trying to do with the time period.  Seeing as the story it was trying to tell is timeless in nature,  it would have been a better choice to just leave things set in the 1970s.  Instead of trying to work things towards the near future.

While not my favorite Kubrick film, A Clockwork Orange does raise some very difficult questions without providing you with any answers. You either like that idea, or you don't. The film has sparked several conversations between Bennett and I, and we're still not sure whether or not we have the right answer. This is a film that you'll want to talk about after. Just make sure you actually want to watch it first.


Pros:

- Playfully disturbing
- Delightfully weird
- Very thought provoking


Cons:

- Rather Graphic


Bennett's Take:


A Clockwork Orange, made by Stanley Kubrick in 1971, follows the life of a very troubled young man, Alex DeLarge. After a sporadic crime spree abruptly ends with his arrest for rape and murder, Alex is off to prison. It is in prison he volunteers for a new rehabilitation program that will see his release much sooner if all goes well.

The interesting music, somewhat bizarre costumes, very unconventional housing decorations and layouts, and odd filming style, all added to this unorthodox movie. These factors created a weird vibe, however it was consistent throughout. Although the vibe caused great intrigue on my part, it was also somewhat unsettling as I questioned whether I should be watching the movie in the first place. I was turned off by the repulsive acts graphically shown on the screen. But I could not help but begin to question the ethics surrounding the rehabilitation program Alex went through later on in the movie.

Many questions are raised when Alex goes through a program that basically strips him of his freedom to make choices when put in scenarios that involve sex and violence, and unfortunately, music. By the end of the program Alex appears to be a changed person in that he no longer seeks out the violence he once chose to participate in. Even if Alex wanted to be violent, the treatment he received prevents him from doing so. This is where there are blurred lines (not the song). Alex becomes incapable of defending himself from harm as he cannot participate in violence, even if it is self-defence. Alex is also therefore incapable of starting and raising a family as the program prevents him from having sex. Did he surrender those rights when he abused them at the beginning of the movie? With no off switch to the effects of the program, Alex will perpetually be a single, defenceless man. Plus he cannot even listen to the music he once loved so dearly. A sad life if you ask me, but is it deserved?

It is movies like these that get me excited. Kubrick allows the audience to come to their own conclusions about the ethics of Alex's rehabilitation, which I like. I enjoy discussing ethical issues, so the ones raised by this movie were great for me. If you want to sit down and watch a nice family movie where you can "turn off your brain and relax" this is not the movie for you. If you are like me and seek out controversial topics for discussion, A Clockwork Orange is the film for you--but be prepared to think deeply and defend your views.


Pros:

- Intriguing style.
- Ethically blurry.
- Debate developer.


Cons:

- Unsettling.
- Graphic


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