DIRECTOR: Stanley Kubrick
May contain spoilers!
It is difficult to know how to review this “classic”. If I rated it based on my personal opinions and feelings alone, I would struggle to give it more than 1/10! This was one of the most gruelling 138 minutes of film that I have ever experienced and proof that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. Granted, the subversive messages about yob culture and the ways that society and governments want to deal with such things withstanding, the execution is just too bizarre for me.
The only saving grace is the care and attention given to the look of the film, with Kubrick’s trade mark cinematography and uses of sound and music, but all in all, this is an acquired taste, one which is obsessed with sex and violence in an artistic way, trying to tell us that violence is abhorrent whilst revelling in it.
Maybe I missed the irony but I do not think so. I believe that Kubrick was playing with us, brainwashing the audience in a similar manner to the way that Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) is conditioned by the state with the use of aversion therapy. We are being exposed to abhorrent images whilst being told that this is in order to see them as just that. But I am not so sure. This is just one step away from either being exploitative or profound.
I felt that it was a glorified exploitation piece, trying to throw as much sex and violence at the audience as humanly possible, something which was all too common in the 1970’s. Any profundity is just a bonus for those who wish to find it.
A Clockwork Orange was supposedly banned for years after a spate of copycat crimes but this is a bit of a misnomer. It was not banned, but it was withdrawn by Kubrick himself and continued to be withdrawn until after his death in 1999, but was it because if these crimes, the death threats which he received or was it because it was a work of self-indulgence which encouraged other, depraved individuals to indulge themselves?
Whatever his motives the film has gained notoriety and critical kudos over the decades since its release and personally I do not see why. I will probably never watch this again, though I will accept that its message at the time, in 1971, regarding the rise of the yob culture, which is still relevant today, was topical and intriguing and I can see why so many people of that generation were prepared to the get behind it.
I can not.
I appreciate that this a very personal view of a film created by a director who polarises his audience. I love 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Spartacus (1960), Dr. Strangelove (1965) and think highly of The Shining (1980) but on the other hand we have this and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). My review is focused on my experience of watching the film and I have chosen not to try to take into account the general positive feelings about the film, so many of which can be sycophantic.