Week of Movies: Number 2

Friday 24 November (2006)

We enter the final two. What could be better than Apocalypse Now? Well, you clearly need to read on:

3. Apocalypse Now (1979)
4. Die Hard (1988)
5. Goodfellas (1990)
6. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
7. Scarface (1983)
8. Dr. Strangelove (Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb) (1964)
9. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
10. Vertigo (1958)

My 2nd Favourite Moviea clockwork orange (1971)

Let me tell you a funny story. The movie The Exorcist was released in theatres in the UK, but then subsequently banned. When it was out, my father took my mother to see it – a courtship ritual, I suppose. Old mum was so terrified that she actually had to leave the theatre – my dad took her outside to the bus stop, then went back inside to watch the end of the film – yeah, I know. Anyway, this experience seriously affected my mother, but I wouldn’t find that out for many years.

Anyway, A Clockwork Orange was also ‘banned’ in the UK (actually it was passed uncut, but Stanley Kubrick asked for it to be withdrawn from circulation after he received death threats following some copycat incidents) and in my mind, it appeared to be the ‘worse’ film – it had scenes of extreme violence, and lots of sexual scenes including rape. So, when Kubrick died and A Clockwork Orange was re-released, around the same time as The Exorcist was finally passed for distribution, I was pretty confident that I’d at least be able to watch the latter movie.

Then, I was in Blockbuster. ‘Let me rent The Exorcist mum!’ I exclaimed; for I needed her to rent the movie as it was an 18. ‘No fucking chance!’ she laughed. I was pretty mad – but she thought I was only after that film because of its notoriety – so, without realising what the movie she was suggesting even was, she said ‘why don’t you rent this Orange thing.’

‘Holy shit!’ I thought. ‘Jackpot!’ I had never imagined I’d be allowed to see A Clockwork Orange – so I shut my mouth and, in pretense, grudgingly agreed.

The movie changed my life.

Stanley Kubrick was, without any doubt in mind, a genius. He was an artist. And this movie is his masterpiece. Oh, sure – some people will argue the case for 2001, or Full Metal Jacket, or The Shining, but A Clockwork Orange is his true masterwork. It tells the story of a teenage delinquent, Alex DeLarge, who is arrested after some pretty horrific crimes. In prison, he volunteers for the revolutionary Ludovico Treatment – a new process which, it is claimed, can turn any criminal into a normal member of society. Alex likes the sound of it because it will get him out of jail early, and sure enough, it is a success. Except, when he’s released from prison, he finds himself unable to defend himself at all. His human rights have been stripped from him, and the government are forced to apologise – indeed, heroise him.

The story is simple but brilliant; adapted from Anthony Burgesses novel of the same name. The ‘clockwork orange’ of the title refers to the dehumanisation of Alex – he becomes a pawn of the state; a ‘clockwork’ puppet of the government, unable to perform his own will. Despite being a criminal, the fact that the government have abused him so makes him a victim, and Kubrick wisely ends the novel with the quote; ‘I was cured all right!’ – referring to Alex’s return to his old ways.

The social ‘point’ of the movie is quite clear when you watch it (and relevant) but when removed, this is still an incredibly entertaining movie. It’s one of the few movies to show the evolution of human speech – that is to say; in the future, people will not speak like they do today, and this film demonstrates that. New slang words (with Russian etymologies) are introduced, and they’re obscure enough to sound foreign whilst being relatable enough to be figure-out-able. The experience of watching the characters speak in this bizarre tongue is unique, and brilliant.

Kubrick really unloads all of his creative cannons here – the soundtrack is bizzare, yet perfect (the William Tell Overture played with electronic instruments at 4x speed), the visuals are amazing and the very message of the movie is both relevant, entertaining and thought provoking.

This is the world’s greatest filmmaker firing on all cylinders – watch it without delay.

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3 Responses to “Week of Movies: Number 2”

  1. Sally Says:

    But the rape scene is so horrible… 😦

  2. Dave Says:

    You know i dont watch many movies, but ive seen this 2 or 3 times and its really damn good – as you say the music fits so well in some sort of eerily haunting way. Still, ive got my money on Hannibal brooks or No escape for number one spot 😉

  3. Sally Says:

    Surely it’s gotta be Big Blue. Or Leon. Hmm… or Pirates of the Caribbean?


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