Greetings again from the darkness. Director Stanley Kubrick only made 11 feature films, and there have been arguments made for all 11 to be considered cinematic classics. This one must surely be included with Spartacus, Dr Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Shining as films that are safe and secure in movie history. Based on the novella from Anthony Burgess, the focus on Alex makes this an extremely disturbing and uncomfortable film to watch, even 41 years after original release. Still, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to watch it one more time … with a full house on the big screen.
Malcolm McDowell is just terrific as Alex, the sadistic, remorseless, psychotic leader of a pack of hoodlums who terrorize innocents just for the sake of doing so. To emphasize Alex’s distorted view of society, Kubrick utilizes a wide-angle lens to show us his Point of View. There is much commentary in the film and most of it is quite obvious. One of the least discussed is the interaction of Alex and his “droogs”. When they tire of his relentless power-mongering and the lack of big scores from all of their criminal activity, we see how young thugs would handle such a situation. Got milk?
There is also much criticism directed at the British government and the world of psychiatry, especially mind-control. Kubrick obviously had extreme views on these topics as he went off-track from the source material to make his points in extreme fashion. The idea of moral choice being the distinguishing factor of a man could be debated, but seems logical when contrasted with the anti-violence rehabilitation system favored by the minister.
There are some fascinating visuals with the milk-plus bar, the artwork and wide-angle lens … especially when focused on Patrick Magee’s face during the rape scene. Also, the use of Ludwig van Beethoven to put Alex in the mood for “ultra-violence”, and then his subsequent song and dance to “Singin in the Rain”, show what the other side of music can mean to those not quite right in the head. Don’t worry about missing some of the “droogs” dialogue. They have a language of their own and it is based in Russian roots. Michael Bates adds a touch of comedy relief as the over-bearing prison guard. His mannerisms are quite funny, yet somehow believable.
The film received four Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Director, though sadly, McDowell was not recognized. While there is much in the film that is difficult to watch, the brilliance of the material, script, acting and directing are a treat for movie lovers. One bit of trivia: that is David Prowse who plays the writer’s bodyguard. Mr. Prowse would go on to play Darth Vader in the Star Wars films.
not sure if this is an official teaser trailer, but it provides a taste without spoiling any scenes: