Banned from British cinema screens by its own director not long after its release, A Clockwork Orange has become part of cinematic folklore, alongside its complex and reclusive director Stanley Kubrick. Steeped in stories of controversy and nastiness, the removal and repression of A Clockwork Orange from public consumption in the U.K. came to represent the very state the film portrayed; a controlling society where others choose what is socially acceptable. In many ways Kubrick’s actions heightened the films standing, making it a desirable commodity, while challenging people to break his own rules to find it. His banning of the film acting as a reflection of the themes its presented.
48 years on from its 1971 release, this is a film that still speaks to our current world despite its age; unnerving and compelling in equal measure. It’s violence now a pale reflection of what can be seen on a news programme or internet blog, making its core messages even deeper with age.
Based on the novel by Anthony Burgess Kubrick’s dystopian vision of decaying social structures, misogyny, violence and governmental control, is universal in its key social themes; standing the test of time in all too depressing way. The exploration of state control in ridding a society of its misfits and criminals dovetailing with the removal of individual humanity and diversity. A cutting dissection of human morality in the face of set societal norms and values.
Kubrick challenges the audience in their feelings for Alex (Malcolm McDowell) while demonstrating that violence often begets violence even in those of apparent moral standing. But ultimately Kubrick asks us what kind of society we want to live in; one built on a governments view of normality or one where the good and bad of human behaviour exist together.
While there are elements of Kubrick’s classic that may now look worn this is a film that still delivers a unique and audacious vision, reflecting themes still present in our modern digital world.
Director: Stanley Kubrick