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A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Violence perpetrated on society becomes violence perpetrated by society

Directed by:

Stanley Kubrick

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 131 minutes

UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

Malcolm McDowell stars as Alex, leader of a gang of young 'droogs', who wreak havoc and perpetrate 'ultra-violence' wherever they go. Rape, mugging, fighting and murder are everyday activities for them. But there's more to Alex than violence – he's a boy with family problems, who likes Beethoven's Ninth, and is trying to deal with his world as best he can.

It all goes wrong for Alex when he is involved in a violent murder, arrested and imprisoned. While in prison, he is offered the opportunity to try a new 'treatment' for violence – a form of brainwashing or aversion therapy. Keen to be free once more, he agrees, but never realises how much of what is important to him will be taken from him during the treatment.

This is Kubrick's astonishing commentary on violence in society, long withdrawn by its director after public outcry, and finally available once again to audiences. The violence in this film is extreme but wholly necessary to understanding who Alex is, what he is about, and ultimately what is done to him. One is left questioning whether goodness imposed through lack of free will is not just as violent as the behaviour of a bunch of teenage thugs. Malcolm McDowell deserves particular plaudits as the disturbing but sympathetic Alex – he has to be likeable for the film to work, but without condoning the violence which he carries out, and McDowell achieves this perfectly. Music plays a significant part in the film, and the choice and use of the music does its job admirably. This is an outstanding and definitive film, which has made audiences think for more than thirty years and remains as relevant today as when it was made.

It's Got: An outstanding performance by Malcolm McDowell. Plenty to think about.

It Needs: A strong stomach to cope with some of the violence.

DVD Extras Given the film’s age, it’s not surprising that there is little to include, although there have certainly been documentaries about it over the years that would have made an interesting addition. Extras: Trailer DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Fight Club, Trainspotting

Summary

One of Kubrick’s greatest masterpieces and a definitive film of its age. Has as much impact as a baseball bat to the head, but is much more enjoyable.

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