From its opening shot of Malcolm McDowell staring with evil intent directly into the camera (which pulls back to reveal him drinking a glass of milk), Stanley Kubrick's brilliant CLOCKWORK ORANGE announces itself as a completely new kind of viewing experience. Banned in Britain for decades, the film, set in an unidentified future, overwhelms the senses with its almost comic depictions of rape and violence set to an upbeat classical and pop music score; its magnificent, colourful, futuristic set designs; and its utter determination to shock, frighten, and thoroughly entertain its audience. Kubrick based his chilling masterpiece on Anthony Burgess's culture-shaking novel about a young man, growing into adulthood, who has a bit of a problem with authority figures. (Interestingly, Burgess's stunning piece of fiction contains 21 chapters, but Kubrick ends his film after chapter 20). When Alex (a career-defining performance by McDowell) and his droogs go out for a little bit of the old ultraviolence, he is caught and forced to undergo controversial treatment that will make it impossible for him to commit violent acts--but has severe side effects. Kubrick's film purposely confuses crime and punishment, cause and effect, hero and villain, irony and satire, filled with oxymoron and paradox, taking on science, politics, societal mores, education, sexual awakening, and parental responsibility all in a new language (both verbal and visual) that would change the face of cinema forever. No one who has seen it has ever been able to hear Singin' in the Rain or Ludwig van again in quite the same way.
Malcolm McDowell, Adrienne Corri, Warren Clarke, Patrick MageeDirector: Stanley Kubrick
3 Mar 2008
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