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January 17, 2009

A Clockwork Orange (Classic Film Pick)

Clockwork_orange There's Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange," and then there's everything else. Kubrick's 1971 adaptation of Anthony Burgess' complex literary satire of crime and punishment is an earth-shattering cinematic experience that elicits an unprecedented visceral response from its audience. Malcolm McDowell plays British thug and sociopath Alex De Large, who wanders around a futuristic, economically ravished Britain where trash fills the streets. Alex lends friendly narration to the audience that he calls "brothers" as he incites violence with a band of delinquent misfits (called "droogs") at his command. Alex gets imprisoned after viciously raping and murdering an upper-class woman in her home with a large plastic phallus. Rather than go to prison he opts to undergo a torturous rehabilitation therapy (the "Ludovico technique"), involving forced viewings of Nazi war films accompanied by Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The proven effects of the treatment lead to Alex's release into a society where he is repeatedly punished for his past transgressions. "A Clockwork Orange" proved a crucial touchstone for significant cultural shifts in music and film. '70s era filmmakers like Coppola and Scorsese were liberated by Kubrick's visionary approach to style, form, and subject matter, and many aspects of the punk rock movement are directly attributable to it. The film is intoxicating in its use of atmosphere, music, and irony to excite the viewer's imagination at a palpitating tempo. Everything comes as surprise for the voyeuristic viewer who is implicated in every criminal act of citizen and state. We are all victim, killer, police, and legislator. Sleep on that.

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