I have avoided watching this movie all of my life. Several years back I thought I should watch it and I asked my friend if I could borrow his copy. My friend is a film buff and loves Kubrick. He hesitated and asked me a few questions. His questions made me queasy so I passed. At the time I didn’t know this film was on the AFI top 100 list. And I was unaware that the novel by Anthony Burgess was on the 1001 list. When I found out that both were I was not happy. Not at all. Please note that there might be some spoilers in this review.
The Better Half agreed to watch the flick with me. I had been advised not to watch it alone. We popped the DVD in and I settled in on the couch expecting the worst. For those who aren’t familiar with the story, the main character, Alex, is a charming sociopath. He leads a tiny gang. Alex has few interests including violence, rape, and classical music. The movie depicts Alex and his gang, whom he calls his droogs, on a disturbing crime spree. Then Alex is arrested, imprisoned, and then rehabilitated. The rehabilitation involves questionable psychological conditioning. You have to watch the movie to understand.
The violence in this movie is graphic, chilling, and unsettling. During the first twenty to thirty minutes there were moments when I wanted to shut it off. Rape is such a despicable crime and seeing it depicted in the movie in such a way was hard to sit through. But my rule for my challenge are that I have to watch the entire movie. So I did.
The film, released in 1971, was a hit with American audiences. In addition, it was nominated for four Academy Awards including: Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The French Connection won Best Picture that year, which is 93rd on the AFI list. The original AFI list ranked A Clockwork Orange much higher than the 2007 list, which is the one I’m using for my challenge. The 2007 list has it ranked 70th.
So am I glad I finally watched the film. I guess so. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I thought of the film when it finished. My first reaction was, “Huh.” I still kinda feel that way. Yes it was disturbing on so many levels. But since I had such an aversion to the movie for the past two decades I thought it would have a bigger impact on me. Maybe in ten years I should watch it again and see if I feel differently. I don’t recommend the movie to everyone. I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch it. But everyone should decide on their own if this is something they want to see.
The next movie on the list is Tootsie. Thank goodness. The last two films, Saving Private Ryan and A Clockwork Orange were not easy movies to watch. I could use a little humor.