A Clockwork Orange (1971)

<strong class="MovieTitle">A Clockwork Orange</strong> (1971)

(On DVD, September 2008) Alternately dull and fascinating, this classic has endured a lot better than you’d expect. The lengths of the film are deliberate traits of Kubrick’s style, for one thing, and not remnants of an outdated editing style. A plot summary seems superfluous given the film’s place in contemporary pop culture and the myriad of references made to it. (Even people who think they recognize the references may be surprised: I was shocked to realize that Rob Zombie’s “Never Gonna Stop” makes a bunch of references to the film, up to and most visibly the “Durango 95”) Yet there’s a lot more to this film than Alex, his droogs and the famous brainwashing sequence: the entire third act is something that tends to be given short thrift in references to the film, and so becomes perhaps the most interesting thing about it. I still don’t believe that it entirely clicks together: the opening act suggests a far more barbaric social breakdown than what is suggested by the rest of the film, a hint that this is best considered as a fable than a serious SF film. Our modern jaded sensibilities may not be appropriate to judge the controversy that the film raised upon release: While “the old ultra-violence” seems ordinary and the torture sequence merely icky, it’s the frequent nudity and the stark symbolism that seems most controversial today. See it at least once to firm up your cultural referents.

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