Alex leads a pack of degenerate young hooligans through the streets of England on an ultra-violent rampage of rape and murder. After being betrayed by his friends, Alex is caught by the police and incarcerated in a state prison, where he volunteers for an experimental new treatment in order to earn himself an early release. Here at the Ludovico Institute, he is subjected to hours of brainwashing images and conditioning that force a negative association with violence in his mind that is accompanied by a wrenching pain in his gut. Now free, he is a truly a changed man, but he re-enters a bitter society that is still riddled with violence, where he is beaten to the brink of death by those he had harmed in the past.
Master craftsman Stanley Kubrick brings his own unique vision to the classic Anthony Burgess novel about free will and governmental control. This dystopian tale uses Alex and his droogs as extreme examples of youth in revolt, living without rule in an ambivalent society where teachers and family have all but given up on enforcing the law. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE paints the governing authorities in a mocking and contemptuous light, demonstrating their inadequacies through their dogmatic practices, failed social experiment, and loose hiring techniques.
While the great Malcolm McDowell would go on to star in many other excellent films, it would be his role as Alex that would prove to be his most memorable and lasting performance. He plays beside an equally talented cast that each manage to extract the biting cynicism of the script and bring it to life on-screen. Kubrick's extraordinary use of color and expert filming techniques immediately juxtapose the graphic subject matter and violence, a trend that is heightened even further by the Classical music score that is intrinsically linked to Alex's character progression. The culmination of these various elements can be seen early on, when Alex and his gang terrorize an older couple in their home to the gleeful tune of "Singin' in the Rain."
Nominated for no less than four Oscars® (including Best Script and Best Director) and winner of countless other awards, Stanley Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is in a class all unto itself. It is a defining piece of cinematic history, and an important watch for any film fan.
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AMERICAN HISTORY X, DR. STRANGELOVE, JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN.