#80: A Clockwork Orange (1971)

When and how did I watch this?

November 17th and 18th, 2016, on Amazon Prime.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

I’ve been eyeing this film since starting the list as El Capitan of controversial content.  I’d already skipped Wolf of Wall Street and Sin City for content, and turned off others for the same reason. However, with so much of the list out of the way and tons of practice watching these films objectively, it was becoming clear that I would have to give this one fair treatment. I knew this was a Kubrick film as well, and recently I’ve had mixed feelings about his work.

What do I know about it now?

The film addresses morality head-on immediately.  As the viewer, we’re personally sickened by Alex DeLarge’s constant sexual and violent tendencies, but the vulgarity and social morality (as we know it) is redefined by the surrounding regular folks, who have nudity and sexual themes framed on their own walls — so how depraved is Alex, really?  This question is never answered completely, because we’re sent with him into prison, where he is given the opportunity to be psychologically cleansed of his inclinations, and then, through a series of events, he ends up kind of reversing the process after falling on his head. The somewhat dizzying plot is told loosely, because that’s not really the point of the film. Instead, the fulcrum is the corrections facility and the government-funded treatment, communicating (and trumpeting in a politically advantageous environment), that  Alex is better off with the treatment. A conflicting perspective arises through another character (ironically, a priest): is he really cured, or is his goodness falsified by a conditioned response? Returning Alex to the backdrop of the world, we see corrupt officers (formerly his own friends), vengeful victims, two-faced politicians, and a doctor having consensual sex with a nurse, and suddenly we’re shocked all over again in contrast to Alex’s “rehabilitated” and “good-natured” self. This film MUST be watched objectively.  As a Christian man, or really any regular viewer, I’m supposed to be grossed out and shocked in several different ways, but the surrounding themes are what make this stylized film something brilliant despite its blatant vulgarity.

What are some themes in the film?

Morality, psychological treatment, revenge, nature vs. nurture

Did this affect me personally?

Several of the scenes may very well never leave my memory.  The wheelchaired victim and his renewed encounter with Alex is quite intense and significant.

Why is this ranked #80?

The film is a cult classic, and it’s Stanley Kubrick.  It’s filled to the brim with sex and violence. People love smut, if nothing else.  It’s propelled further up the rankings for its profound themes.

Did my wife watch/like it?

I warned her before this film, but she stuck it out.  She did some research surrounding the film and didn’t seem to appreciate it as much as I did, mostly because she recognized the dissimilarities to the novel.

Would I watch it again?

Absolutely not. Once is plenty.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

You need a strong stomach, or likewise a completely objective viewpoint.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

As expected from the masterful director, Kubrick’s film is visually stunning and full of symbolism and meaning — everything is shot with intent to both shock and inform the viewer. McDowell as Alex DeLarge is impressive. From my analysis, it provides similar commentary on morality as in the Bible (Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Judges, a few of the epistles), which garners my respect. Another Kubrick great that is growing on me the more I think about it.

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