I saw ‘A Clockwork Orange’ just a few days ago.
The first thought that comes to my mind is Kudos to Stanley Kubrick. His film adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel is brilliant.
The film stars Malcolm McDowell as Alex de Large , a sociopathic teenager , who, along-with his group of friends, goes around beating , assaulting , stealing and raping without a conscience.
In the movie , Alex is then betrayed by his group and is turned in. The police find that he has accidentally murdered a woman whose house he was going to rob. He is sentenced to 14 years in prison.
As he is told to give in his possessions , he does not seem to be fazed by his sentence at all . He seems calm , casual …….almost joyous about it.
After 2 years of his sentence he learns of a new technique which gets prisoners out of jail in two weeks . But he is told it is dangerous and has side effects. He goes in for it anyways .
This technique , the Ludovico technique, is a controversial new development which alters the thinking of the person by making him allergic and intolerant to certain things. In Alex’s case he was made intolerant to violence and crime.
He is then sent out of the medical facility where he was receiving his treatment …and here the story actually starts.
He first goes to his parents house . There he finds that his parents have given his room to another man and have more or less accepted that stranger as their son . He leaves , dejected and angry , and takes to the streets. There he meets an old beggar , the same one he had robbed and beaten before. The beggar calls the other beggars of the street and they attack Alex , who cannot defend himself for he is intolerant to violence. Two policemen come to break up the fight and they look at Alex. They are the same friends of Alex who betrayed him and got him sent to jail . They take him to a far off place , beat him and almost drown him. Once again he cannot defend himself . In a very weak physical state he goes to the house of the old writer (whose wife he had raped ,while singing ‘Singin in the rain’, earlier) without realising where he is going. The old man doesn’t recognise Alex till he starts singing ‘Singin in the rain’ and drugs him after he finds out that inadvertently he is also intolerant to Ludwig van Beethoven’s ninth symphony (which he liked a lot prior to the treatment). Alex is then locked in a room and made to listen to the ninth symphony . He cannot stand it and attempts suicide.
He doesn’t die but sustains heavy injuries. The minister who put him on the Ludovico technique in the first place is worried about his impression on the public and his post in the government . He meets Alex and asks him to be on his side . As a celebration , he calls for all the photographers and Ludwig van Beethoven’s ninth starts playing . This time Alex doesn’t feel anything and the movie ends with Alex saying “I was cured all right”
The entire movie is in first person …so what you see is exactly what Alex is telling you to see. You see the atrocities he commits , but somehow you feel a strange charm …you don’t exactly hate him as soon as you see him. Somehow you can relate with him for he does not give any reasons for his actions , he doesn’t try to justify them …he just does them. For this reason I didn’t feel any real hatred towards the character.
When Alex is released from jail , he is made to suffer a lot. His parents reject him , the beggars beat him, his former friends almost drown him and the old writer tries to make him kill himself. Even though Alex gets back what he had done unto society , you cannot help but feel pity for him . It’s not the suffering that brings out the pity , its the fact that he is helpless and cannot do anything in his situation . He has no choice . He works only as a machine . (Orang means ‘person’ in Malay , hence the name ‘Clockwork Orange’) He cannot alleviate his pain or suffering on his own . He needs someone to rescue him out of every situation.
The movie does raise questions of morality . Is it right to take away a persons volition to benefit society? Does a person guilty of crimes in the past deserve volition? Does he have the right to a second chance? Is denial of choice a better punishment than imprisonment? Does imprisonment really help ?
And you tend to think of this while the movie is going on and even after the movie ends .
There are some movies which have action and a plot and excitement and there are some movies which don’t give you much but expect you to take something from them. Clockwork Orange is an example of the latter.
I really liked the movie because of the fact that it made me think about all these issues. It was not the kind of movie which you just see without really thinking…it needed a lot of input from the viewer which I enjoyed.
And now …to end abruptly :
All in all , a must watch movie . You may hate it or love it but you must watch it!
PS: The book is horrible!! Do not read it.