Let’s Talk About… ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1971)

Film #8 in FilmExodus’ AFI 100 Movies

Every Thursday FilmExodus does a review/analysis of a different cinematic masterpiece from AFI’s 100 Movies 2007 updated list. For a complete overview and how you can participate, click here.

Viddy well, my droogs!

My favorite film of all time “A Clockwork Orange” (Year) is ranked #70 on AFI’s top 100 list and is currently rated #79 on IMDb’s Top 250.  However, I would rate #1 on my list as it my favorite movie of all time for a variety of reasons.   The header image is the exact framed photograph that hangs above my bed.  This may seem weird to some, but I find comfort in Alex and his droogs looking over me as I sleep.  They are surely not a group of people to be trifled with.

The first time I saw “A Clockwork Orange” was on a whim when it was recommended to me by a friend and I was randomly picking from the IMDB Top 250 during High School.  It was a perplexing experience as at first I found the film’s narrative and the use of slang to be somewhat confusing, but it was a beautiful experience nonetheless.  Afterwards I read the novel, which would help me understand the movie far better especially the Russian/British slang used by the characters.

The Film Score and Soundtrack are both hauntingly beautiful in many ways as they serve the tone of the film in interesting ways such as the use of one popular song amongst a score of surreal music that reflect the insanity of the world that these characters inhabit.  It was also a very controversial film when it was released for its explicit depiction of the ole ultra-violence including rape and murder.  There were actual real imitation crimes based on the film were even executed such as this one (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/clockwork-orange-gang-found-guilty-of-killing-bar-manager-519576.html) and many others that were exteremly prevalent in California.

The amazing film by Stanley Kubrick was based on the fantastic novel by Anthony Burgess and there are various differences between the two are not too dissimilar except a few certain aspects.  In a way it is very much like Game of Thrones as the characters are aged up a quite few years which changes the context quite a bit from the source material.  However, the most infamous change is the exclusion of the “extra” chapter at the very end gives a very different perspective of Alex than the film’s ending does.

Instead of simply returning to his old habits as he does in the previous chapter, he decides to grow up and shows a passion for making a family of his own.  The film version instead decided to end on the previous chapter without offering Alex any redemption and returning to his previous life.  Anthony Burgess’s hate for Stanley Kubrick’s film is well-known as well as hate for most of the various forms of adaptations.  He would even go as far as to insult Kubrick through a character in the play adaptation.

I would be remiss without mention that the film and novel have both heavily influenced pop culture in countless ways such as the depiction of a despicable character as the protagonist of the story.  The “evil” protagonist character of Alex DeLarge would go on to influence characters such as Walter White in Breaking Bad and help give rise to the “anti-hero” as well as adding shades of grey to the protagonist in other ways.  There have been many parodies and I will now go into the section that I have dubbed “Way Too Many Videos”:

My favorite parody is from the opening and closing of the N64 video game Conker’s Bad Fur Day which begins and ends the game with a reference to the film’s opening, but here is the beginning part:

My second favorite is probably from Tenacious D:  The Pick of Destiney that was based on the real crimes I mentioned earlier:

Even television shows as popular and mainstream as “The Simpsons” have even parodied it:

I would also randomly like to say that it also inspired a punk band attire and many of their songs, The Adicts which were very influential in the early punk music scene of the mid-1970s and the 1980s.

(If you’re interested:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKUkv97mHcQ)

I will end with a more in-depth look at the ending of the film as not only was it one of the biggest changes between the novel and the film, but it also is an amazing crystalizing image.  We see Alex take advantage of the government in a sort of revenge as well as restoring his love of a certain song back.  It ends with Alex’s psychedelic orgy phantasy that shows that he was “cured alright” in a way that shows that he has returned back to the villain he was in the beginning rather than learning a lesson.  The end title credits actually are serenaded by the titular song from another AFI 100 film previously covered.  Not only does this remind us of the initial rape while being sung, but also that Alex returns to his previous form rather than later evolve into someone different.  I actually enjoy the change as it gives me a feeling similar to the end of “There Will Be Blood” as it cements the fact that this character can never and will never truly change no matter what happens to him.  The  beautiful color changing images of the credits reflect the films unusual tone that is almost Wes Anderson before Wes Anderson existed.

There is a lot more to talk about with this movie, but I could tell that I was already running long.  What are your thoughts on this film and its impact on pop culture?