Movie: A Clockwork Orange
Release Date: December 19, 1971
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corri, Miriam Karlin.
Tag Lines: “Being the adventures of a young man … who couldn’t resist pretty girls … or a bit of the old ultra-violence … went to jail, was re-conditioned … and came out a different young man … or was he?”
“Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven.”
Relevance: Since I was born in 1971, the year ‘A Clockwork Orange’ was released, I did not see it during its initial theatrical run. However, I did watch the film for the first time at a young age, thanks to HBO and a very curious mind.
As mentioned before on this blog, when I was a kid I was an HBO Guide fanatic. Every month when the guide arrived via mail, I would go through it from cover to cover, read all about the movies, see what they were rated and plan my execution of how I could see the ones I wouldn’t be allowed to watch. My parents were pretty liberal about what I was able to see as a kid, but any movies rated “R” with nudity and strong sexual content were almost a no go. Of course, as a young boy those were the movies I wanted to watch the most.
Sometime in the early 1980’s in my impressionable pre-teen years, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ was playing on HBO. It wasn’t only the HBO guide and the nudity that attracted me to a film, it was also the trailers that they would show in between scheduled viewings. And once I saw the trailer for this particular film, it became a definite must-see movie for me. It looked strange, weird and exciting, and I was all about the strange, weird and exciting. (I still am.)
I don’t recall the first time that I watched the movie, but I know that I was alone. I also remember that the movie freaked me out. I had no idea what was going on, I could barely understand what the characters were saying and I was very disturbed by the violence and sexuality that were being presented in the film. But I watched it. The entire thing. All two plus hours of it. I figured once I started, I might as well make it to the end. But I vowed never, ever to watch it again.
In 1990, I was lucky enough to see Madonna’s “Blond Ambition World Tour” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Even luckier, I saw her from the second row and was able to snatch a flower that she touched and then flung off stage. (I still have that flower pressed and in a zip lock bag.) She ended every show with her top ten hit, “Keep It Together” from her “Like A Prayer” album. The entire show was full on theatrical spectacle, but this particular song was an epic performance that lasted over ten minutes with intricate dancing and sections of a Capella singing . With her bowler hat and British accent saying things like “Hi, hi, hi” and “Time for a bit of the old in-out, in-out,” my mind quickly jolted back to ‘A Clockwork Orange.’
After the concert, I revisited the film that I swore I would never watch again. But if Madonna was influenced by this film enough to incorporate it in her concert, I had to check it out at least one more time. And I did. This time, at a more mature nineteen, I understood the film and its message and was mesmerized by it and its lead actor, Malcolm McDowell. It quickly became a movie that I watched over and over again alone or with friends. Yes, the movie was still disturbing, but at least I now knew why it was. I guess sometimes ratings on film are important.
‘A Clockwork Orange’ is a film that quickly became one of my favorites and one that I spent countless hours watching, discussing with friends and one that I even wrote college essays about. I started to study other Stanley Kubrick’s films and the more I did, I began to get a much deeper respect and admiration for this dystopian crime drama that scared my as a kid. ‘A Clockwork Orange’ has become more than just a film. It has influenced cinema and pop culture and is studied by many actors and directors of all generations. Thanks to Madonna, I was able to jump on the bandwagon and now appreciate its artistry, craftsmanship and impact on society.
Today’s Thoughts: “It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.”
‘A Clockwork Orange’ is undoubtedly a tough film to watch. However, it is also a brilliant film that has remained relevant almost fifty years after its release. I always look forward to catching up with Alex DeLarge and his “droogs.” Today was no different.
Stanley Kubrick, thanks in large part to its source material, really created a strange, violent dystopian world. Each frame of the movie is intricately shot and blatantly important to the finale of the film. Its themes of violence, sexuality, morality and psychology ooze out of every second and you can’t help but get wrapped up in their intricacies. Malcolm McDowell is equally humorous and terrifying and gives a fantastic, mind-numbing performance. I am just as much scared of his character as I empathize with him. That is tough to pull off, but he does so marvelously.
It wouldn’t be a Stanley Kubrick film without gratuitous nudity which includes, drum roll please, penis. Yes, we have back-to-back full frontal male nakedness here on my list of most influential movies of all time. This makes penis number fifteen. You can check out the fourteen previous penises here: 113. Weekend, 120. Sex and the City, 133. Porky’s, 139. Trainspotting, 144. Fargo, 183. Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 199. Six Degrees of Separation, 209. The Fisher King, 295. Being John Malkovich, 296. Wildcats, 332. The Crying Game, 335. Born on the Fourth of July, 343. Sideways and 357. Amadeus.
There is not a lot of grey area when it comes to ‘A Clockwork Orange,’ as people either love it or hate it. I happen to be on the love side, but I understand its criticism and get why people might shy away from it. Regardless, no one can deny its cultural impact and affect it has had on cinema and society. And who knows, in another fifty years it may be loved by all. Only time will tell.
“Public opinion has a way of changing.”
Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Director, Stanley Kubrick (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Stanley Kubrick (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Bill Butler (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture, Stanley Kubrick (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Malcolm McDowell (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Direction, Stanley Kubrick (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Art Direction, John Barry (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, John Alcott (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film Editing, Bill Butler (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, Best Screenplay, Stanley Kubrick (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Sound Track, Brian Blamey, John Jordan, Bill Rowe (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Stanley Kubrick (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Film (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Director, Stanley Kubrick (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, Malcolm McDowell (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director, Stanley Kubrick (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, Malcolm McDowell (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium, Stanley Kubrick (nomination).
Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Prime, Vudu, DVD Availability.