Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Clockwork Orange - Kubrick (1971)

I was concerned about not getting any Kubrick in at all, but then an extra day magically appeared. Then I could find all of my Kubrick discs except this one. Like, even Eyes Wide Shut (1999, S&S #377). Almost broke down and watched the long-awaited Blu-ray of Barry Lyndon (1975, S&S #59) again. I was thinking about going with Ken Russell's The Devils (1971, Sight & Sound #323) instead. But I needed to head in a different direction.

Anyway, I sorted it out. I'm fine, thanks... Don't mention it.

A Clockwork Orange
dir. Stanley Kubrick. 1971, UK/USA.
Sight & Sound 2012: Critics' #235 / Directors' #75
Roger Ebert's movie review
DVD from Amazon [Blu-Ray]
Watch via Amazon Instant / iTunes

A Clockwork Orange trailer (1971)

Alex: I knew such lovely pictures.

... ... ...

Alex: It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem real when you viddy them on the screen.

I'm starting to think our dear narrator might have been stretching the truth when he told prison admission officials that he'd never suffered from mental illness. The first thing I recalled specifically was that the Nadsat term "horrorshow" came from an actual Russian word: khorosho, "good." Obviously the Wendy Carlos synth themes, the Kordova milk bar, a little of the old ultraviolence, "Come and get one in the yarbles - if you have any yarbles, you eunuch jelly thou!" Dim's spinelessness, P & M's cluelessness, Deltoid's sarcasm... yes?

This viewing was a relevation. The 2001 record at the record store. The Duke of New York bar (EFNY?). And the fact that Alex gets captured at around a third way through, only about 40 minutes in. Everyone should know 6-double-5-3-2-1, and the corny American chaplain. "What's it going to be, eh?" After scourging Jesus on the way to crucifixion, Alex gets fed grapes by a harem. This seemed to foreshadow his hospital feeding by the government minister at the end. I don't think I'd ever noticed that during the minister's prison inspection, the first thing he looks at in Alex's cell is the bust of Ludwig van... Could the musical score of the Ludovico technique have been intentional and not accidental?

"Shut your filthy hole, you scum!!" Does "Pomp & Circumstance" play during the ministerial visit because of the lord high fancypants, or because it's a kind of graduation for Alex? And he's out of prison by the halfway mark - this pacing issue is something I'd never noticed before. The movie is front-loaded with memorable parts, and the latter half can wander a bit. Once the Ludovico has been done, it's back out into the mad world - the old drunken bum again, a newly-authorized Dim, and the subversive writer. For some reason, that low-angle shot of the wheelchair-bound writer's stroke-like reaction to recognizing Alex's singin' ("in the Rain") is iconic for me. And my final thought: I don't think I'd ever focused on the way the papers in the end refer to "Alex" and the "boy" - highlighting his role as an innocent victim.

Possibly not even in my top 5 Kubrick movies, but he's such a phenomenal auteur. So his top 10 films are like others', uhhh... best?

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