A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
Review by Michael Jacobson
McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corbi, Miriam Karlin See Review
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.77:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Length: 137 Minutes
Release Date: October 23, 2007
"I was cured, all right."
There are some images in life, like traffic accidents, forest fires
and others that are utterly horrifying to look upon, yet somehow
we cant look
Clockwork Orange is a film with many such moments.
This is one of the most disturbing films ever made, both in terms of content and
visuals, and remains as potent and controversial today as when it was first released
nearly thirty years ago.
The protagonist, Alex (McDowell) is a thoroughly unlikable character. He and his gang of droogs get their
jollies from spending their nights indulging in acts of ultraviolence. They brutally beat an old homeless men. They leave another gang of toughs near death. They invade a couples home and force the husband
to watch as they rape his wife in front of his eyes.
This is all within the first fifteen minutes of the film, and I have know some
people not to make it past that point.
But what all of this leads to is one of the greatest examples of
dramatic irony in storytelling. Alex
eventually goes to prison for murder, only to get out early by agreeing to an experimental
treatment. In one of the most bizarre,
frightening and fascinating sequences, we watch Alex undergo a chemically induced
transformation, whereby his body learns to react with harsh debilitating sickness whenever
he feels the urge to indulge his propensity towards sex and violence. And in this helpless weakened condition, he is
turned loose on the streets, where one by one, all of the victims he wronged earlier in
the picture get to extract a measure of revenge against him.
The film centers on the idea of conflict, in many forms and ways. The conflicts between youth and old age, the
conflicts between good and evil, and without naming names, certainly a conflict between
extreme liberalism and extreme conservatism. Turns
out Alex is a pawn for both sides as they argue over how best to deal with the ever
growing problem of violent criminals. Even
the color schemes are constantly in conflict in the film
hardly anything matches. Bright oranges are constantly juxtaposed with deep
blues, creating a jarring effect on the eyes. Check
out some of the clothes being worn, too, especially by Alexs parents
is a combination of colors that are completely mismatched.
Its like Martha Stewarts worst nightmare, but Kubrick knew what he was
doing, and the effect is intentional. Even
the classical music score, mostly by Beethoven, is performed on electronic synthesizers,
creating a strange conflicted effect as well.
This is truly a film designed to unsettle the audience, so not
everyone will embrace it. But one thing is
for sure: once youve seen it,
youll never forget it.
This new anamorphic version corrects all the problems of the old, and presents A Clockwork Orange in magnificent, colorful glory. The print is much cleaner, and images are stronger, sharper, and with greater detail. The range of colors is strong, including deep blacks and pure, clean whites, natural fleshtones and a terrific juxtaposition of often clashing colors with no bleeding or distortion. A superb job!
Gone is the thin sounding original mono soundtrack in favor of a full-bodied 5.1 mix. The electronic and classical music sound better than ever, with fuller range and more depth...this is evident from the first few opening notes. Dialogue remains crisp and clear on the center channel. Surrounds are mostly used to open up the score a little bit, but serves that purpose well. Overall, the audio is clean, dynamic and better than ever.
Features * ***
The first disc contains a solid new commentary track with Malcolm McDowell and historian Nick Redman...a real treat. There is also the original trailer.
The second disc features a Ch annel
Four documentary on the film, a making-of featurette, and a career profile of
Malcolm McDowell, directed by longtime Kubrick collaborator Jan Harlan.
annel Four documentary on the film, a making-of featurette, and a career profile of Malcolm McDowell, directed by longtime Kubrick collaborator Jan Harlan.
A Clockwork Orange is one of Kubricks most visual triumphs, and his sense of cinematic storytelling serves the classic novel by Burgess well. Its a disturbing, violent film with many horrifying and unforgettable images, but all of it serves the terrific irony of a tale of crime and punishment, of ideals and results, and of just what constitutes morality.