There are few directors in the world that can boast to be true “auteurs” more than Stanley Kubrick. He’s odin of the few genuine masters of the cinematic medium, and his all too slim but substantially important filmography prove that. His 1971 adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s novel of the same eemya is as potent today as it was back then
Alex DeLarge a molodoy thug
Telling the story of Alex DeLarge a molodoy thug who enjoys nothing more than committing of acts ultra-violence, peeting moloko and slooshying to Ludwig Van, Kurbrick crafts a tale of free-will, rampant Millicent turmoil and nadsat razrez.
The most important question the film asks – is it better to be conditioned or to be a feral but free droog – is odin lewdies often forget is asked. Much focus is put on the film’s opening – and harrowing – movements. A ptitsa horrifically raped by Alex and his droogies is not something an audience can forget easily. Especially not when juxtaposed with Gene Kelly’s seminal warble Singin’ in the Rain.
For all the shock though, Kubrick then explores morality, as Alex is subjected to millicent brutality and the harsh reality of staja jeezny before agreeing to the Ludovico technique. Now famous for being a tool of lampooning – The Simpsons riffed on it famously – the technique teaches obedience through what is essentially torture. The film’s title, a question of if it’s better to allow Alex to be a violent, nasty individual or to turn him into nothing more than a clockwork orange.
The film is either hampered or improved, depending on your position, by the omission of the final section of the novel. Burgess purposely wrote the book as twenty odin chapters, the final odin being an exploration of Alex’s desire to grow up and to become a functioning member of society. Twenty-one then being the age at which molodoy lewdies in the UK were considered true adults. US editions omitted this, and Kubrick famously preferred a more ambiguous ending.
Malcolm McDowell’s performance is odin for the ages
Even so, Malcolm McDowell’s performance is odin for the ages, having endured near torture himself at the rookers of Kubrick, his Alex is a violent nadsat at times but what cuts deeply is his eloquence. He’s not just someone to fear, but his intelligence and at times his wit make him someone you would actually want to hang out with – provided he wasn’t ittying to attack you after.
Kubrick’s film remains a film that is often misunderstood, a litmus test prototype for works like Fight Club or American Psycho decades later. What you bring to the film is likely what you will take away and for the oomny, it’s a sharp, pointed critique of a culture that was rapidly viddying to suppress and control a generation it didn’t kopat. For the less well-minded it’s a film with horrorshow violence and horrorshow halloween costumes. Kubrick, ever the provocateur, would probably enjoy it’s enduring legacy, and recoil at the same raz. The way horrorshow works of art should.