Monday, August 1, 2011

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Easy To Admire - Difficult To Enjoy

- Despite shocking audiences at the time of its release, even being pulled from screens in the United Kingdom,  A Clockwork Orange (1971) seems to now be one of Stanley Kubrick's most highly praised films among cinephiles. The film follows Alex (Malcolm McDowell), a delinquent living in a futuristic Great Britain, as he goes from active criminal to active participant in a government-led program to halt crime on a psychological level. The results of his actions as a criminal and the results of his "aversion therapy" are not what anyone would have expected....

While there certainly are aspects of A Clockwork Orange that are easily praised, I found it hard to actually like the film in its entirety.

As usual, Kubrick incorporates nothing but fantastic shots and creative set designing throughout the whole film - so from a bare-bones stylistic point of view, the film is terrific. Also, Malcolm McDowell performs his role very well; the music is interesting, adding a very unique feel; and some particularly effective dark humor is found here and there in A Clockwork Orange. The film has merit, certainly.

Unfortunately, with many of the film's pluses follows an asterisk. While the film is made up of wonderfully set up shots, they do not flow well together and the film is not very atmospheric as a result - A Clockwork Orange is like watching a patchwork quilt of good-looking scenes. Also, while Malcolm McDowell is great, the other members of the cast are nothing short of nothing special.

The biggest problem with A Clockwork Orange, however, is that it is just too disturbing a film to fully enjoy. No matter how technically impressive it might be, the act of actually enjoying the film is nearly impossible due to its bizarre and overused graphic nudity, horrid torture scenes, and the out of left field juvenile jabs at Christianity. Unfortunately, A Clockwork Orange alienates and disgusts rather than creates interest or enjoyment and, while I admire Stanley Kubrick's filmmaking talent, I cannot say that I am able to list A Clockwork Orange among my favorite Kubrick films.

CBC Rating: 4/10

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