Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"A Clockwork Orange" Analysis

Hey guys,

The videos below come to us from Rob Ager who runs the Collative Learning website and also provided us the superb analysis of The Shining. Of all the Kubrick films, I watch this one the least because I cannot get past my complete disgust with all of that horrifying, depraved behavior in Alex.

I remember Ebert was so outraged at this film that he wrote, "Alex is violent because it is necessary for him to be violent in order for this movie to entertain in the way Kubrick intends. Alex has been made into a sadistic rapist not by society, not by his parents, not by the police state, not by centralization and not by creeping fascism -- but by the producer, director and writer of this film, Stanley Kubrick." He went on to argue that Kubrick's visual style glorified the violence and made Alex appear as the most normal person in the film. He finally said, "What in hell is Kubrick up to here? Does he really want us to identify with the antisocial tilt of Alex's psychopathic little life? In a world where society is criminal, of course, a good man must live outside the law. But that isn't what Kubrick is saying. He actually seems to be implying something simpler and more frightening: that in a world where society is criminal, the citizen might as well be a criminal, too."

On the flip side, I admired Ager's ability to distance himself emotionally from the atrocities on the screen and try to intellectually dissect what's really going on. I'm inspired by his analysis - not so much from Kubrick's theories behind the story as much as the way Kubrick makes connections with the sets, costumes, and props in order to make visual statements about the characters. In particular, I liked the motif with the wigs and the little statues of Beethoven and the way Kubrick dressed the women to appear, at least in Alex's mind, like either his disapproving mother or sexual objects, which says a lot about Alex's twisted view of women. The entire film presents the world as Alex sees it for good or bad, right or wrong, but certainly disturbing.

In the end, I was surprised by Kubrick's references in his own movies to the landing on the moon, almost teasing audiences about the theory at the time that the landings were staged and directed by Kubrick himself. This, of course, reminded me of Matthew Allen, a TriggerStreet member, who actually wrote a satirical screenplay about this very subject called How Stanley Kubrick Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hoax, which was quite a bit of fun.

At the bottom is a list of essays thanks to the Kubrick site.



The Clockwork Orange Controversy by Christian Bugge

UK Clock ticks again for Kubrick's Orange by James Howard

A Clockwork Naartjie: Censorship of Kubrick in SA by Craig Clarke

The Cultural Productions of A Clockwork Orange by Janet Staiger

The Aestheticization of Violence by Alexander Cohen

Kubrick's Psychopaths by Gordon Banks


Just Jake said...

Speaking of Kubrick, I'm looking forward to seeing Color Me Kubrick (starring John Malkovich), it sounds like an interesting script/movie.

Mim said...

I must be a sick person. Clockwork Orange has always been a favorite of mine. I also read the book in High School and loved it.

Mystery Man said...

guillermo - Yeah, me too! I haven't had a chance to say that.

Mim - You're too good to be true to be sick. I must confess, I hadn't read the book. That's like, required reading for writers, isn't it?


Carl S said...

This is one of my all-time favorite movies. The first time I watched it I thought it wa a comedy. I mean, it is funny, very funny, but yet not a comedy. It'as a twisted, wonderful... thing.

If people can look at it and internalize their own personal experience with it, is that not a true definition of art?

Mystery Man said...

Really... I was nervous about posting this and ya know, I'll have to examine this again.

Yeah, you may be right.


Laura Deerfield said...

The first time I watched Clockwork, it was clear to me that it was a criticism of the overall violence in society (including the sexualizing of violence,) with Alex as it's inevitable result. A society that turns people into objects, and leaves them to extreme acts in order to find stimulation.

It can hardly be said to glorify violence, because it is so difficult to watch. Because it is uncomfortable. Unlike, for example, Die Hard or any number of cartoons. (I related the torture/mind control experiments with television - the constant stream of violent images being fed to us...)

I couldn't say I love the movie, as it's too hard to watch for that. It's disturbing. But I do appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd suggest reading the novel first, MM. To get you started, Alex's violence is extreme because it has to be contrasted with what happens to him later; tell me, which is better, to be evil with a choice or to be good by force?

Mystery Man said...