Stanley Kubrick set forth a zeitgeist upon which all future gang warfare films would be based on. Which is surprising considering A Clockwork Orange is not about gang warfare at all. It’s a science fiction thriller about a predator of humanity who gets a taste of his own medicine a hundred fold once he is rehabilitated into a docile animal of society. Alex DeLarge, almost like Scarface, has become a considerable icon for the neo-sixties chic society of pop culture that has embraced his image of a derby, cane, and accentuated lashes. Stanley Kubrick is once again celebrated in the re-releasing of his greatest films, all of which have been in the consciousness of film lovers for decades, while Kubrick’s titles have yet to age a day. A Clockwork Orange is a very heavy mod, neo-fascist picture of a young man who has society and the elite by the balls, and is a veritable god in his own mind. Once he’s taken in to be transformed by an experimental government program, he discovers he’s become yet another victim, another sufferer, and another crying voice being ravaged by the corrupt medical system, the sadistic rich, and corrupt law enforcement.
A Clockwork Orange is a pure and utter masterpiece, one of many by Kubrick. From the get go there’s that air of menace and sheer nihilism that Kubrick paints into every film cell, warning us of the surreal carnage that will soon ensue. DeLarge lives like a king. He leads a vicious gang, has random threesomes, and lives off of his parents without a flash of a judgmental brow to bring him to his knees. As exemplified by a hazy wet dream, he’s a vampire on the jugular of society, and while insanely likable, he’s a leech who must be dealt with.
Malcolm McDowell’s performance as the legendary Alex DeLarge is a pure tour Deforce of sly witticisms, devious sociopath tendencies, and a furiously sharp delivery one of the some of the most unusual and incoherent sixties colloquialisms that are hard to translate but so damn cool to hear him declare. Kubrick saves some of his most demented sequences to reflect Alex’s world; a scene of brainwashing as Alex watches with eyes forced open, howling in agony, remains a powerful and pivotal turn in the story.
Also notable about Kubrick’s thriller is the memorable appearance of David Prowse (Darth Vader), who plays the barrel chested caretaker to DeLarge’s equally sociopathic ward who cares for DeLarge and then seeks revenge when he makes a startling discovery about him. The final half of A Clockwork Orange is the world repaying Alex for all his crimes and pain, and every time Alex is convinced he’s escaped their torment, he is always proven wrong and made a beautiful example of karma. A Clockwork Orange is a milestone that Kubrick would repeat throughout most of his career, and it’s aged gracefully. With a crisp widescreen transfer and amazing sound quality, A Clockwork Orange has never looked better. There’s nothing too shabby about watching a masterpiece in the best quality possible, right right right?
This release looks wonderful, pure and simple. The menus are fantastic, the scene selection is great, and the quality of this special edition is top notch. A Clockwork Orange is presented in a widescreen sharp format, and sadly in a rated R edition that Amazon sadly misinformed consumers was the much desired Rated X version. I wish I could see the X version in all its brutality.
The commentary and interplay between McDowell and Redman is quite excellent. Not only is Redman keen to providing some rather fascinating tidbits of factoids and insight, but he’s also always respectful of McDowell. He knows more about the production than McDowell does, and never interrupts or presumes to be the authority. Meanwhile McDowell’s commentary is very relaxed and the man’s humility makes the viewing quite entertaining. He seems to take the movie with a grain of salt as another simple role he did in his career, but his good humor and grace is a great compliment to the atmosphere of the film playing. There’s also a wonderful story of how Kubrick created the scene of DeLarge singing “Singing in the Rain” as he beat his two victims senseless. There’s also the minute teaser to “Singing in the Rain” which is in the exact mode DeLarge’s brainwashing videos were in: Chaotic, surreal, and of course, the trailer is an instant sell on the madness that Kubrick concocted.
On the second disc there’s the forty-three minute retrospective of “A Clockwork Orange” which pulls back on the film and grabs feelings and interviews from admirers and movie critics alike. Critics Mark Herrode, and Mary Haron gush about Kubrick’s film emphatically, and there are great glimpses at the locations used in the film. Included is DeLarge’s high rise. “Still Tickin’” is a great exploration not only into the film, but into the making of the novel. The interviewees explain author Burgess’s process of writing the piece as well as the motivation for including the repeated themes of rape. “Still Tickin’” is absolutely informative.
The twenty-eight minute “Yarblockos!” is a less of a making of featurette composed in the exact chaotic temperament as the film itself yet again, as it is another retrospective featuring more interviews and commentary from even more esteemed fans of Kubrick and the film. Interviews with Sydney Pollack and Steven Spielberg pay immense homage to Kubrick, glossing over his eclectic filmography, and discussing how he originally came across the novel to make into this film. There’s also the shocking news The Rolling Stones were considered for playing the Droogs, with Mick Jagger as DeLarge.
The 2006 production “O Lucky Malcolm!” is a ninety minute sprawling biography of Malcolm McDowell that profiles his career, his insight, speaks with his celebrity friends and most importantly explores his importance in film and how he’s changed it. “O Lucky Malcolm” is strictly for fans of the man who want to learn of his humility and how his small background shaped him into a man who comes alive on screen. “O Lucky Malcolm!” shows how McDowell is an instrumental actor who can be great in the likes of “Heroes,” and severely misused by moronic directors in the likes of “Halloween (2007).” The man is a living legend.
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