A Clockwork Orange

500 Movie Challenge: A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

Time for some movies about craziness! Okay, maybe anarchy more than insanity. But A Clockwork Orange definitely ranks up there with movies notorious for being batsh*t crazy. And it stars Malcolm McDowell in a role that I should not find at all attractive. Shouldn’t, but I do. I never claimed to have good taste in movie men.

The gist: Alex is a young man in a severely messed up England. He’s the head of a gang of boys who go around raping, robbing and beating other boys senseless. They don’t go to school, and have thus far evaded police detection. They’re not the only ones doing this, and the forces trying to sway them toward the straight and narrow are insincere at best.

Everything changes when one robbery job goes wrong. Alex’s friends run off, forcing him to catch the blunt of the crime. He’s sent to Future England Jail. He hasn’t lost his taste for sex and violence, even though he hides it well. But he’s bored. So the second someone mentions an experimental technique that would allow for a criminal to be released within two weeks, Alex immediately volunteers.

This is where things get really messed up. Through a series of horrifying experiments, Alex is brainwashed to have physical pain whenever he is exposed to violence. Ditto for if he feels sexual arousal or, in a cruel trick of fate, hears music by Ludwig Van Beethoven. He’s pronounced cured and thrown out of prison. He’s considered no longer being considered a threat to society. But society may not accept Alex back into the ranks so quickly.

What I “learned”: There are two types of people who see movies about children/teenagers gone wrong: Those who pity them and those who see them as monsters.

This disparity exists in real life as well. When children or teenagers do terrible things, people tend to blame their parents or just say they were a “bad seed.” But why? Why is it never a mixture of both? Why can’t it be both the person and their surroundings? Was Carrie the last movie to show any nuance in the “going bad” process? I’m astounded that movies up to this point aren’t at all up for debating nature vs. nurture. Moreover, I hope I’m proven wrong.

See this movie if you like: Dystopian movies that don’t feature the environment as the main attraction. Everyone likes a good sci-fi flick, but it gets old learning about a new Parallel Earth every year. This future world is laid out very simply. Future F*cked-Up England. Now on to the characters and their problems.

Avoid this movie if: You want more a balanced antihero story. This movie punishes Alex for his evil acts very harshly. Fair enough. The kid’s done some awful stuff. But we’re just supposed to assume that none of the punishment sticks, and the emotional trauma he goes through doesn’t quell his violent nature whatsoever? Not buying it. That’s a caricature, not a proper antihero.

The end of the movie (without explicit spoilers) suggests that Alex really is bad at heart. That counteracts a lot of the last hour of the film, wherein Alex receives retribution from a lot of the parties he has wronged. Unlike the book, there isn’t much entertainment of the idea that there’s something in Alex beneath his violent acts. It cheapens a lot of the moments where you truly feel for Alex. You wonder if any of that previous vulnerability was even real. A part of you hopes it was. But that would mean this movie has a really terrible ending.


New Films Watched: 94

Films Re-Watched: 9

Total Number of Films: 103

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