9.21.2010

Eggiwegs! I Would Like...To Smash Them!

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
Got Moloko?

So this is a bit of a throwback, but after last weekend's midnight showing, once again A Clockwork Orange has proven that it will never get old. We take a romp into the life of Alex DeLarge, a teenage boy trapped in a futuristic world overrun with an excess of violence, rape, and just general nastiness. Alex, the ringleader of one of these "meddling kids", is put through a "rehabilitation" program with the hopes of instilling a sense of compassion for the human race and "goodness" into the boy. Thus introduces the question: is is better to be human and chose to be evil, or to be stripped of the choice and forced to do only good? Although this movie has all the stamps of a Stanley Kubrick 70s movie--the slow pace, the extended scenes in which very little happens--the aesthetic richness in every scene makes it worth the wait. Indeed, even when Alex is simply going through the motions of stripping down in order to give over his belongings to the police, the atmosphere and the world Kubrick creates is intense (the shouting police officer, the threat of the white line, the slow realization that Alex doesn't carry baby heads in his pockets, he is in fact just like you and me).

To anyone who's read the book, this is definitely one of the best book to movie adaptations I've ever scene (even forgiving the changes made in the "death of the cat lady" scene. If someone gives you a giant fake penis sculpture, you really have no choice but to bash someone's face in). Kubrick captures the world, the essence of Burgess' novel, in the tongue-tripping narration and quirky, twisted details (mothers with Tonks-style changing hair, statues with nipples that bleed milk, and counselors who are a little too...touchy).

Actor abuse?
This movie is definitely not for the squeamish. Kubrick makes no apologies about the violence and delivers one of the most disturbing rapes scenes ("Singing In The Rain" will never be the same again). He forces the viewer to stay with the scene, prolonging it, making us endure what recent directors would have just left to the imagination with snappy cut outs and dramatic flashes. While no cats may have not been harmed in the making of this film, I have to occasionally wonder about the actors. And I'm not just talking about the repetitive epileptic fits Mr. Alexander seems to suffer. Malcolm McDowell takes some serious hits for this movie, for which he should earn some sort of endurance prize. The iconic scene in which his eyeslids are pried open and held there as someone administers eye drops was all done with extraordinary patience, not CGI. Plus, I'm sure this is just me, but every time during the scene in which Dim and Georgie more or less water board Alex, I LOOK for that little blink of a white cigarette burn in the top right corner (thanks a lot, Fight Club. I will never be able to ignore that little flashing circle again) and every time I don't see it. All evidence points to one shot. Which seems impossible. I've tried holding my breath that long, I have. But it just seems like actor abuse. Then again, if I was an actor, I'd hold my breath as long as it'd take for Kubrick. I'd swallow too.

Violence, sex, crazy futuristic 70s shit. What more could you want? Well, the closet intellectual in me wets herself a little with the academic debate underneath the top layer of cinema goodness--the same debate which tormented Dostoevsky and yet somehow is still beautifully articulated by Kubrick. "Goodness is something to be chosen," claims the Prison Chaplain, "When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man." Kubrick keeps the integrity of Anthony Burgess' novel by exposing Alex in all his truly horrific glory, and then getting the audience to cheer for him and pray that he never stops being the evil little shit he is. Viddy this horrowshow flick pronto, yeah?

2 comments:

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