A Clockwork Orange
What if an alien in the future stumbled upon A Clockwork Orange? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Cori, Miriam Karlin
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Production Co: Polaris Productions, Hawk Films
Written by: Ben Steiner and Denise Kaplan & Howie Kaplan
Directed by: Jared Bauer
Analysis by: Jared Bauer & Kevin Winzer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
A Clockwork Orange’s Hidden Meaning – Earthling Cinema
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is A Clockwork Orange, directed by famed auteur Stanley Q-Bert and starring Terence Stamp lookalike Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
The film centers on Alex, a typical teenager who does typical teenager things, like drinking milk to build strong bones and using crowbars to break strong bones. His family life is stable, so it’s unclear where his aggression comes from. Maybe he’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.
Saturday night and they in the spot, but rather than pop over to the soda fountain, Alex and his lackeys figure why not stage an impromptu home invasion? That puts Alex in a singing mood, but soon the lackeys start pushing to do guest vocals, so Alex has to cut them from the label. Without missing a beat, they betray him and he gets sent to the biggest house of all: jail. Hey man, no use crying over spilled lactation fluid, as the saying goes.
Later, the mayor of England comes to the prison looking for test subjects for the Lenscrafters rehabilitation technique, so Alex says sign me up, Scotty. Scotty? Who’s Scotty? Karen, who’s Scotty? Anyway, Scotty forces him to watch a nonstop cycle of detestable images, like war and multicam sitcoms. To add insult to injury, they put drops in his eyes to make him cry like a wuss. The technique works, rendering Alex allergic to boobs, and they send him on his merry way.
Only his way turns out to be decidedly less merry than previously reported. His parents have traded in for a newer model, so Alex has no choice but to apply for membership in the homeless guild. Unfortunately, the review board has other ideas. So does the fuzz. Alex stumbles his way to the nearest house, where he uses his last ounce of strength to get beat up by gravity.
Alex wakes up in the hospital to find that he’s got that twinkle back in his eyehole. The mayor of England apologizes for the whole Lenscrafters debacle and promises Alex a cushy job in exchange for being a team player. Hooray, the system works!
A Clockwork Orange explores the idea that free will defines the human experience. Earthlings may have been hopelessly misguided on every conceivable level, but at least it was by choice.
The film’s title, “A clockwork orange,” refers to the absence of free will — something organic made to work mechanically. This is a metaphor for Alex, a human being who is psychologically conditioned until he becomes an automaton. Or as I call it, Monday morning.
Alex is robbed of choice every time he’s turned into a tool for someone else’s agenda. The Lenscrafters technique reduces him to a political asset by shady government bigwigs. The writer and his dissident friends seek to use him as a pawn to promote their criticism of said large wigs. Then the government turns around and bribes him in an attempt to undo all the damage they caused in the first place. What a tool.
The cyclical nature of clockwork is woven into the narrative itself by some sort of celluloid spider. The film is essentially split in half: everyone Alex harms in the beginning — the drunk, his old gang, the writer — returns to exact revenge after his so-called rehabilitation. But despite all these coincidences, Alex doesn’t learn from his misdeeds. There is no real progress made by the end of the film, other than progress the viewer makes through his DVR queue. Humans were stuck in a constant cycle between good, evil, freedom, oppression- like clockwork. Or congress. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.
Another motif is the obscene merger of violence and high brow cultural refinement, like the way Beethoven straight up murdered his ninth symphony. Throughout the film, classical music plays during violent acts, almost as if it doesn’t care. Furthermore, several works of art are perverted by graphic imagery that I should probably tell you is NSFW except it’s too late, you’re already looking at it. Perhaps this high/low switcheroo serves as an indication that culture is no guarantee of moral elevation. Or perhaps it’s something much more sinister: that violence can be an act of creation.
Indeed, Alex sees himself as something of an artist or performer, in the vein of a Carrot Top or a Jared Leto. Thanks to his showmanship, he is the only character that approaches relatability in the entire film, despite his horrendous acts. His surname, De Large, is essentially a porno pseudonym. Personally, I would have gone with Lorenzo von Dongle. The fast motion of Alex’s “menage” suggests that the sexual act is not erotic, but more of a snooty performance art piece. Alex’s violence toward his lackeys unfurls in slow motion, giving it a kind of balletic quality. The final shot of Alex having sex in the snow once again utilizes slow motion, indicating a return to his previous violent, snow-angel-making self. Was his entire journey all for naught?
Of course, all loose ends would be tied up in the 2018 sequel, Clockwork Orange 2: The Battle of Scurvy Mountain, which won the Golden Glob for Best Supporting Visual Effects.
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid.