Fitting for a film that is ultimately about free will and individuality, A Clockwork Orange, based on the novel by Anthony Burgess, may be Stanley Kubrick’s most idiosyncratic work – an exceedingly artful, yet savagely pessimistic, evocation of a dystopian future and a hugely influential cult classic that remains challenging, right-of-passage viewing for adventurous film lovers.
“It demands thought, compels the attention, and refuses to be dismissed. And, for that reason, A Clockwork Orange must be considered a landmark of modern cinema.” – James Berardinelli, Reel Views
The great Malcolm McDowell, in his signature role, is creepily charismatic as Alex, the Beethoven-loving, teenaged ringleader of “the Droogs,” a vicious band of young punks on the prowl for “a little of the old ultra-violence.” When Alex is jailed for murder and then subjected to an extreme behavior modification treatment that results in law-abiding conformity, he goes from ruthless predator to hapless victim; his case now taken up by the press, the erstwhile public enemy becomes a cause célèbre in a society rotting from the inside out. Released in late 1971 (within weeks of Peckinpah’s brutal Straw Dogs), the film sparked major controversy in the U.S. with its X-rated violence; after copycat crimes in England, Kubrick withdrew the film from British distribution until after his death. Still one of Kubrick’s most hotly-debated films, A Clockwork Orange is a chilling, shocking and endlessly fascinating look at humanity at its most monstrous. (Dir. by Stanley Kubrick, 1971, UK/USA, 136 mins., Rated R)