AFI #70: A Clockwork Orange

I think A Clockwork Orange is a film for young people. I remember really liking this film when I first saw it, which was probably when I was in high school. What could be more interesting to a high school student than a film about a bunch of young thugs getting high and performing a little ultra-violence? The thing is though, watching it now as a 45-year-old man it simply doesn’t hold up. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s so camp that it ‘s just not very good at all.

Stanley Kubrick directed some winners, including The Shining, Dr. Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket, but he also directed some duds (2001 A Space Odyssey is totally overrated). I won’t say A Clockwork Orange is a dud, but it’s not as good as I remember thinking it was. There are some highlights: certainly Malcolm McDowell’s performance is tremendous and the juxtaposition of violence with classical music is thought-provoking. Kubrick’s direction is unique — there are some very strangely shot scenes including a fast-motion menage a trois and that eery scene of Alex with his eyes propped open being forced to watch violent scenes in an effort to desensitize him to it. It definitely has a late 60s style that is common to the period (feels like Barbarella a bit). I don’t know…it sort of left me feeling…in the words of my 14-year-old…meh!

If you saw it when you were younger and haven’t seen it since you’re probably thinking I’m nuts and that it’s a classic. But I promise if you see it again you won’t think so…

Next Up: Tootsie