Stanley Kubrick's striking visual interpretation of Anthony Burgess's famous novel is a masterpiece. Malcolm McDowell delivers a clever, tongue-in-cheek performance as Alex, the leader of a quartet of droogs, a vicious gro... more »up of young hoodlums who spend their nights stealing cars, fighting rival gangs, breaking into people's homes, and raping women. While other directors would simply exploit the violent elements of such a film without subtext, Kubrick maintains Burgess's dark, satirical social commentary. We watch Alex transform from a free-roaming miscreant into a convict used in a government experiment that attempts to reform criminals through an unorthodox new medical treatment. The catch, of course, is that this therapy may be nothing better than a quick cure-all for a society plagued by rampant crime. A Clockwork Orange works on many levels--visual, social, political, and sexual--and is one of the few films that hold up under repeated viewings. Kubrick not only presents colorfully arresting images, he also stylizes the film by utilizing classical music (and Wendy Carlos's electronic classical work) to underscore the violent scenes, which even today are disturbing in their display of sheer nihilism. Ironically, many fans of the film have missed that point, sadly being entertained by its brutality rather than being repulsed by it. --Bryan Reesman« less
Jerome G. from LA CRESCENTA, CA Reviewed on 2/2/2011...
This is close to my favorite Kubrick film. It is also the one that caused the most controversy when it was released in England in 1971. The violence in this film was
shocking and brutal in 1971, but it would be the standard compared to today's graphic depictions in film. The nudity is excessive as we hardly see any female nudity in mainstream movies anymore ( as it may offend women and parents who spend alot of money seeing movies nowdays)Hence the never ending 'PG-13' ratings for most of the films today. Kubrick has a reason for all the 'ultra-violence and the ol' In-Out-In-Out'...Hello? He was making a statement. It is also a very black comedy for some.
But the Brits of that day banned the film in England for years. Kubrick reluctantly agreed as he and his family were personally receiving death threats from angry viewers who clearly misunderstood what he was trying to say. The Ratings Board in the US slapped it with an 'X' rating, which several other mainstream films received in those early years: "Midnight Cowboy" and "The Wild Bunch" were two classics that had to trim it down to a respectable 'R'. Clearly all these years later 'Clockwork' has been considered a Masterpiece , which all of Kubrick's films are with the exception of his final film with
Tom 'jump the couch' Cruise.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
A master film, by a master director
Matthew K. Putnam | Brooklyn Park, Minnesota United States | 12/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1964 director/producer Stanley Kubrick created the nuclear war comedic masterpiece "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb". He followed that with the science fiction masterpiece "2001: A Space Oddysee". Stanley Kubrick would reach his creative peak with his next film. An Adaption of Anothony Burgess'novel "A Clockwork Orange." Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange is one of those films that you will either love or hate. The film centers around the character of Alexander DeLarge (played to perfection by Malcolm McDowell) a 15 year old "droog" who with his friends Pete (Michael Tarn), Georgie (James Marcus), and Dim (Warren Clarke) drink Milk Laced with drugs at the local "Milkbar" and then go out on the town at night, doing horrible things to people. During one incident Alex is captured and taken to prison. He finds out about a treatment that can get him of prison. He goes through with the treatment (which will make him sick when he attempts to commit an act of violence), is released from prison and thrown back into the world, unable to defend himself. Out of all the things that make this movie great, the number one element is the performance of Malcolm McDowell as Alex. The entire movie revolves around him so if McDowell's performance isn't top notch then the movie isn't top notch. McDowell was in his late twenties when he made this movie. In the novel Alex is 15 years old. So although being much older then his character McDowell plays the adventureous youth wonderfully. Suprisingly McDowell was not nominated for an Academy Award. Another really strong element is the music. Never in my life have I seen a movie (non musical) where the music plays such an important role in a film. Gioacchino Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie" during the fight scence against the rival droogs. "The William Tell Overture" played 5 times too fast during the orgy scene and the use of Ludwig Van Beethoven's "Symphony no. 9" are just a few examples of how music plays an important role in this film. As far as things being wrong with the movie. The only real thing is the lack of any real supporting cast. Sure there are a few standout performances. Particularily James Marcus as Georgie and in no means are the rest of the supporting cast bad actors. There just isn't a real supporing cast there. But McDowell's performace makes up for it. This film get's 5 stars because of 3 things. Number one is the performance of Malcolm McDowell. Number two is the use of music in such a different and unique way and number three is the originality of it. This movie came out in 1971 and I haven't seen any movie like it that came out before or since then. A Clockwork Orange was nominated for several Academy Awards including "best picture" and "best director" but it lost in all categories to William Friedkin's "The French Connection" "
M. Hickey | California, USA | 11/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In which high government officials are seen as the moral equivalents of street thugs (just better at p.r.), demonstrating that nothing has changed in 35 years. The HD transfer is spectacular. This is how I remember the movie upon its opening in 1971. Pristine, startling, amazing. Repeated viewings over the years of worn-out circuit prints, VHS and standard-def DVD had dimmed the movie's capacity to astonish. Now, in HD, the luminous brilliance, texture and color of the images are restored, and the richness of the images makes a tremendous difference to the film's impact. The sound is also excellent -- certainly superior to the original theatrical release in the days of optical soundtracks. In addition to the beauty of the Hi-Def picture, this is worth owning because (at last) it is a close approximation of the original theatrical aspect ratio (screen shape); the theatrical presentation being, after all, the venue for which Kubrick composed his shots. (Ignore those who claim he meant this film to be seen in full-frame 1.33:1, as in all the previous home video releases. He clearly created it to be seen in theaters, and in theaters he had the image matted to 1.66:1, which is very close to the aspect-ratio of this HD DVD.) Buy it; watch it on your big-screen 1080 HDTV in a dark room, uninterrupted. Real horrorshow! This is a 2-disc "Special Edition," with the same extras as the standard-def DVD in the new (2007) boxed set: commentaries, trailer, new interviews with Wm. Friedkin, Sydney Pollack, Malcolm McDowell, Wendy Carlos, Mrs. Kubrick, others. Then hope for a speedy HD release of "Barry Lyndon" (1975), Kubrick's underappreciated masterpiece following "A Clockwork Orange," which will also benefit greatly from High-Definition."
Kubrick's Most Noteworthy Accomplishment
Weston J. Kathman | Lakeside Park, KY USA | 06/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A lot of people would say that Stanley Kubrick's best work was 2001: A Space Oddyssey or Dr. Strangelove, but Clockwork Orange is his most remarkable film. Combining the best qualities of both 2001 and Strangelove -- which are both fantastic films also -- never before has Kubrick given audiences such a satirically brilliant movie. For some people, Clockwork will be hard to stomach; the rape scene at the beginning is pretty explicit and there's a lot of nudity. The fighting scenes, though, are for the most part more comical than brutal. Whether you hate it or love it -- and there isn't a lot of room for middle ground to be taken with this film -- you will certainly remember it because it will most likely have some kind of impact on you. In his first film role, Malcolm McDowell gives an incredible performance as the twisted gang leader Alex, who delights in rape, ultraviolenece, and Beethoven. McDowell is amusing and frightening at the same time and, without a solid, believable performance from the lead, this film would not have worked. The rest of the characters are eccentric, too, although their sole purpose is to reinforce the qualities of Alex. There are two major themes in this film, one of which deals with politicians and the manipulation with which they operate in order to avoid bad publicity. When the operation to reform Alex backfires, causing him terrible trouble as opposed to making him a decent person, the politician who originally championed the controversial operation does a quick clean-up job so that the situation won't seem as bad as it is. He offers Alex a cushy government job, basically an attempt to bribe the criminal so that he won't go to the papers with his horrifying experience. Alex, of course, is too young and unschooled to realize that he has been taken advantage of -- both by the people who promoted the operation and by those who opposed it -- and he is just happy to be himself again. The other main theme of this film deals with how far we should or shouldn't go in order to reform people who commit heinous crimes. If we ever developed the technology to do such a procedure as was done on Alex, this film gives us a good reason not to go through with it. Besides taking away a person's inborn ability to make his own moral choices, this would also leave the person particularly vulnerable to the revenge of those he's wronged in the past (which is what happens to Alex). The book of the same title, which was authored by Alex Burgess, is even better than the film and deserves more credit as a literary masterpiece. Some people believe that the movie is too soft and doesn't go as far as the book as far as the sexual scenes are concerned, but this movie will offend enough people without Alex taking advantage of two naive, pre-teen girls. Burgess himself was disappointed by the film (he makes this obvious in the newer version of the book) because the book was 21 chapters and the movie ended at the conclusion of the 20th chapter; however, the ending of the movie works better on screen while the ending of the book works better on paper. In each context, the endings work. Besides, the movie was already two and a half hours, and adding the book's ending would have meant at least 30 more minutes. Anyway, A Clockwork Orange is a thrilling experience and should not be missed, whether you like Kubrick or not. This film should have been ranked higher on AFI's Top 100 list."
MMAfan | USA | 08/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a great moment in movie history, and one of the greatest adapted screenplays of all time! This is the all new remastered Clockwork Orange, and finally released on a bran new dvd set with all new special features!
Special Features include: Commentary with the main star! Remastered version of the movie! Channel 4 documentary: Still Tickin: The Return of Clockwork Orange! Career profile: O Lucky Malcolm! New featurette: Making A Clockwork Orange
Purchase a work of art by one of the greatest filmakers ever!"
Mitch Weaver | Houston, TX | 11/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The story is set in a near future society that has unthinkable methods of crime and punishment. Alex ( Malcolm McDowell)is a man that loves to fight, rob, rape, and kill. However, his luck finally runs out and he is captured. While imprisoned, he undergoes treatment to render him " safe" to the world around him, which is refered to as a " Clockwork Orange". While Alex is made to look perfectly normal on the outside, he is crippled by reflex mechanisms beyond his control on the inside. This prevents him from committing any acts of violence whatsoever. After Alex's release, things go from bad to worse however, when his "cure" leaves him defenseless to the revenge of his victims. "A Clockwork Orange" is Stanley Kubrick's best film, and one of my favorite films overall. It is one of those movies that you can watch over and over again, and still be amazed everytime. I have never been as shocked as I was when I saw this film. The first 20 minutes involves two brutal beatings and an extremely graphic rape scene. It only gets more shocking from there on out. The story also offers a hilarious sense of irony. Alex is supposedly cured of all his afflictions, but is thrust back into a world of violence when forced to deal with his victims. The camera work used in this film is amazing, and the music is wonderful. All of the actors do an outstanding job in this film, but Malcom McDowell gives one of the most memorable performances ever as Alex. I have never experienced such a use of my emotions before when dealing with a fictional character. He will make you hate him and shock you with how he acts before he is captured. But then Alex makes you feel almost sorry for him with what he has to go through afterwards. Stanley Kubrick has made some great movies with "2001: A Space Oddesey", "Full Metal Jacket", "Barry Lyndon", "Paths of Glory", and "Dr. Strangelove...." In my opinion however, " A Clockwork Orange" is his best film. The overall story, acting, music, camera work, and truly shocking scenes set it apart from the rest. It is definately a must own, because it only gets better with repeated viewings. The DVD however, is very mediocre. The quality of the film itself is just above average, and there are no extras at all."