A Clockwork Orange is a hard film to review, and it’s becoming harder and harder to review as time goes on.
The problem with reviewing it lies in the first 20 minutes. The night of “ultra-violence” becomes harder and harder to sit through as time elapses. Yes, it serves a narrative purpose, but the strain of watching it is excruciating.
From violently attacking a homeless person because our main character can’t stand the homeless because they’re disgusting to the violent break-in and rape, to everything else, it’s a rough 20 minutes to get through.
That said: it does serve a narrative purpose, the central theme of the movie being the idea of mind control and human behavioral correction, etc. The movie is meant to make you uncomfortable so that when it flips the moral to the psycho being the victim of the government’s psychological conditioning which destroys his life, you are faced with a genuine conundrum on which side of the fence you come down.
It’s meant to ask difficult questions, and it does so by making the main character so reprehensible for the first stretch.
It doesn’t hold up as well as some other Kubrick films have (2001 and The Shining), but it is a good example of how adult Kubrick was as a film-maker to take a subject as difficult to ask of the audience as this and steer head-long into it with abandon.
It remains a fantastic example of using a movie to ask questions of society at large, and it’s something everyone should see once just to be confronted with that nature.
It’s just not a particularly great re-watch.
Up Next: The Deer Hunter