#46: A Clockwork Orange

Part of my job as boyfriend and self proclaimed film scholar is to introduce my girlfriend to movies she hasn’t seen that will potentially make her very uncomfortable and question my character.

Clockwork_orangeAAs was the case with A Clockwork Orange (#46).  Listening to me blab over the years that this film is a contender for my favorite of all time, she thought it necessary to finally view it as I made my way through the AFI list.  So armed with a bowl of spinach dip and glasses of strawberry daiquiris, we strapped ourselves in for the two and a half hour roller coaster ride that was to follow.

Even from the synthesized chords of “The Funeral of Queen Mary” and the bright, blank red screen that start the opening title sequence, Amanda had a look of frustrated disgust on her face.  It’s the kind of look I probably sport when asked to hold her purse while she tries on countless outfits at the mall.  So far, I think we’re even.

The film is told from the perspective of humble narrator Alex (Malcom McDowell, a young malchick who loves performing a bit of the old ultraviolence and in-out, in-out on weepy young devotchkas.  Oh wait, I’m sorry.  For those of you who don’t speak Nadsat (the fictional Russian inspired English used in the Stanley Kubrick film, as well as the Anthony Burgess novel), he basically likes to rape, pillage, and beat the crap out of people.  In the futuristic world of A Clockwork Orange, Alex and his droogs (friends) show that the young are a force to be reckoned with.

For Amanda, this onslaught of cockney sounding dialect and gratuitous violence within the first ten minutes was already proving to be too much.

“I can see why you like this movie,” she said sarcastically as Alex and his pals pummeled a drunken tramp.

I replied, “Just wait, it gets better.”

“There’s too many boobs,” Amanda said, upon seeing at least the third pair so far.  Okay, so I wasn’t fairing too well.  But I figured once the plot kicked in and the film’s biting social commentary began, I would make a convert out of her yet.

A Clockwork Orange 1971

This is what it took to get Amanda to pay attention during the movie

Fed up with Alex’s dogmatic leadership, his droogs leave him to be captured by the police after their murder of a health farm manager.  Thus, his 14 year prison sentence begins.  But Alex desperately desires to get back to his life of crime.  By sucking up to the Minister of the Interior, Alex becomes the first prisoner to partake in a new rehabilitation technique that promises to get you out and keep you out of jail.

By this point in the film, Amanda is more concerned with Twitter updates on her iPhone.  But she reluctantly continues watching as Alex undergoes the “Ludovico Technique.”  The rehabilitation center shows him a series of violent, sex filled films.  Sounds entertaining enough, right?  Leather straps fasten him tightly to his chair. Clamps force his eyes open.  Electrodes monitor his brain activity.  Add the fact that he’s given a drug that makes him feel like he’s going to die in a torrent of his own vomit, and you’ve got one fun filled day at the movies.

As a result, Alex does not choose against crime, he’s simply so physically repulsed by it that all he can do is surrender to his brain’s conditioning.  People from Alex’s past take advantage of his state by carrying out various forms of revenge on our humble narrator.  The results are often darkly comical and provide a spark of philosophical assessment.

But by the end of the movie, Amanda is unimpressed with Kubrick’s visual mumbo-jumbo and is not easily swayed by his attempts at higher thinking.  Two thumbs down was her final rating.  Perhaps if she watches it 200 more times like I have, she’ll come around.  However, there’s one good thing to come out of her watching this film.  She’s now on the hunt to find a robe similar to one worn by Alex’s author victim.  Minus the blood stains of course.

Brett HeadBrett HeadBrett HeadBrett HeadBrett Head5 out of 5 Brett Heads (I would give it 10 if I could)


1 Response to “#46: A Clockwork Orange”

  1. October 11, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    No BrettHeads? Yah, that’s my vote too.

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