A Clockwork Orange
Stanley Kubrick grew up in Brooklyn but moved to England, where he erected a virtual fortress for himself and never left it. This says much about the man and his movies. "A Clockwork Orange," a story that could only take place in England, is one of the first to reveal his dementia.
Alex (Malcolm McDowell) leads a band of thugs to commit all manner of heinous acts -- ultra-violence, as they refer to it. In fact, Alex's three favorite things are rape, ultra-violence, and Beethoven (incidentally, this is a great trio for playing the "One of These Things is Not Like the Others" game with toddlers. And film students, though the toddlers usually score better.) Anyway, one of the first things Alex and his band of thugs do is rape a woman. If this woman had lived in America, she probably would have been armed. She blows Alex away and his band of thugs finds a new vocation. Nothing like a weepy young devotchka blowing off your unit to make you think twice about the old in-out, in-out. Story over. Of course, this would have made for a short movie indeed, but then Kubrick would have been free to move to a more deserved line of work, such as orchestrating ultra-violent Taco Bell commercials.
Kubrick's most famous gifts to cinema in this film include scenes of Alex beating an old woman to death with a ceramic penis and Alex beating an old guy and raping his wife to the tune of "Singing in the Rain." Huh-huh. Look, Beavis, it's the juxtaposition of the horrific and the pleasantly mundane. Huh-huh. Once again, if the victims had just had one lil' AK-47 about, things could have been different. The old woman could have sprayed Alex with a few hundred bullets and gone back to polishing her ceramic penis. The man and his wife could have put a hole in Alex's chest the size of a bowling ball and gone about their business. Instead, what do they do? They just let themselves get beaten, because that's what you do in England when you're not avoiding the dentist.
Once the police catch Alex, they find an equally British way to cure him, which involves torturing him until he becomes sick at the thought of committing violence or of listening to Beethoven. Apparently, they mistook Alex for India. They could have saved a lot of time and money by just killing him. Instead, by torturing him, they essentially commit the same inhuman acts upon Alex that Alex committed upon society. Kubrick's argument is that this is no good. He offers no alternative solutions, just the facile observation that society can't commit its own heinous acts to keep criminals from hurting people. That such a simple theme should require such lovingly rendered rape scenes is, I suppose, Kubrick's prerogrative. So shoot him.
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