A Clockwork Orange

09/02/2016 15:55

Film: A Clockwork Orange

Year: 1971

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writer: Stanley Kubrick

Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee and Michael Bates



This film follows a young man played by Malcolm McDowell. He narrates throughout the film. This film takes place in the near future. McDowell is at a milk bar where milk can be purchased with different drugs within it. Amongst the youth in this film they have their own language named NADSAT. It is a combination of English, Russian and slang terms. With McDowell are his three friends. The largest is Warren Clarke. There is also James Marcus and Michael Tarn. They are deciding what they are going to do for the night.

It is quite eventful. They attack a homeless man who asks for money. They save a young woman from getting raped by a rival gang and then get into an all-out brawl with them. They steal a car and drive around the countryside fast. Then they knock on the door of a writer and his wife. They pretend there was an accident and need to use his phone. The man is played by Patrick Magee and his wife by Adrienne Corri. They attack him and then cut off her clothes. She is then raped while McDowell sings ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. To finish the night they go back to the milk bar where we learn that McDowell loves classical music, especially Ludwig von Beethoven. We also see McDowell hit Clarke with his cane and there is some resentment there.

McDowell lives with his mother, played by Sheila Raynor, and his father, played by Philip Stone. When he gets home, he turns on Beethoven and we see that he has perverted dreams of violence and sexual fantasies. The next morning Raynor tries to wake him for school, but he tells her he is sick. When he does get up, a counselor for the school is in the apartment. This man is played by Aubrey Morris. He tries to convince him to the straight and narrow, but McDowell pretends like he was just sick and he is good.

From here he goes to a music store where he picks up two young women and takes them home for a sexual encounter. He goes downstairs later that day to find his friends. Clarke lets on about a plan they’ve come up with and McDowell mocks him. Tarn comes to his aid though. They are walking down by the river and McDowell attacks them, showing his dominance. He does listen to the plan later when they go to get food.

They go to a rich woman’s house. She is played by Miriam Karlin. They try to use their ploy again, but she remembers reading in the newspaper so she doesn’t fall for it. She calls the police to alert them to what happened. McDowell sneaks into the house. She tries to attack him, but he fights back. He ends up killing her with a phallic statue by accident. As he goes to flee, his friends turn on him. They hit him with a milk bottle and leave him for the police.

Morris visits McDowell while he is in police custody. He informs him that he can’t help him anymore and that he is up for murder. McDowell is convicted and sentenced to 14 years.

While he is there, he tries to find his way out much faster. He works with the prison chaplain, who is played by Godfrey Quigley. Quigley believes he is making changes for the good, but we see the fantasies of McDowell. He reads the bible for the details of violence and sexual encounters, and then visions himself there. He does hear about a new method that would allow him to get out of prison much faster, it is known as the Ludovico method.

McDowell is bold and gets chosen for this. They give him a serum, secure his eyes open and make him watch videos that were similar to what his friends and he used to do. The serum though makes him extremely sick to his stomach and paralyzed. It makes him want to avoid what he is seeing. To make it worse for him though, Beethoven is being played during some of the videos, where he gets this feeling listening to the 9th symphony.

The doctor in charge is Carl Duering and the minister who is trying to get this method as an alternative form of punishment is played by Anthony Sharp. They show that it has worked when McDowell doesn’t fight back when attacked and he won’t touch a naked woman put in front of him. McDowell is then released from prison.

The two years he was away have changed a lot. His parents have rented his room to a lodger, Clarke and Tarn are now police officers. McDowell is attacked by the homeless man he attacked before he went away along with the homeless man’s friends. His package of clothes is stolen as well. Clarke and Tarn save him, only to take him out into the middle of nowhere to beat him some more. McDowell walks in the rain and seeks refuge at a house near by, but it turns out to belong to Magee. Will he figure out who McDowell is? Can McDowell break this or he is doomed to lack of choice?

I have to say that I first saw this film when I was a senior in high school and was blown away, but I really didn’t know what I saw. I have seen this film multiple times and it is just as good this last time as previous times. The first thing I want to say is that the acting is amazing. McDowell is perfect as the main character. You see the range of him being the fearless leader to being the fake acting prisoner that we see from criminals who just want freedom. It is great seeing him where he is conditioned to no longer commit crimes. I feel the supporting cast is great as well. I thought director Stanley Kubrick did a great job on selecting a soundtrack that fits the film perfect. I love the use of classic music and having a vicious, young main character having such refined taste in music. I really enjoy the highly sexual artwork every place we go, as it is such a taboo, but this film makes it seem like it’s not in this possible future.

I want to go into the issues this film portrays to me. This film was made in the 1970s, which explains why we have the colors and outfits. Now this film does make it seem like the youth is vicious and violent, something that we can see still today with bully and school shootings. This is why the Ludovico method is introduced, to condition those that are violent and deviant, to no longer be able to commit the crimes they do. Now this would eliminate prisons, but it also eliminates their ability to decide to do good or to do bad. This becomes a religious/moral debate then. Quigley is the only one that we see at first who is against this method. He sees that man should be able to choose what they do and not be forced into it. Not only that, but if McDowell isn’t cured of this, he could never have a family as he can’t touch a woman without being sick. This could be what they wanted to have happen, to eliminate the ‘criminal gene’. I am against this notion though, because I feel it is a combination of nature and nurture to create criminals.

I don’t really have anything negative to say about this film. I have also read the book and I feel that is a very good adaptation from that. The film is long, but I can’t see a place to take anything out. Some of the characters in the book are changed for the film, but seeing why they did it, it makes sense.

Now with that said, I would highly recommend seeing this film at least once. I will warn you that it is from the 70s, so if you have issues with films that are older, then you will see one with this. There is quite a bit of nudity. There is also violence, some of it in the form of rape, so keep that in mind as well. I will say that the acting is great, the soundtrack and story are as well. The film makes you think about crime and punishment and how we should deal with it. Is it worth it to make men into machines without reason or do we allow them to decide to what is right? Really makes you think and I would say view this film to see where you stand.


My Rating: 10 out of 10