DIRECTOR: STANLEY KUBRICK | SCREENPLAY: STANLEY KUBRICK | STARRING: MALCOLM MCDOWELL, PATRICK MAGEE, ADRIENNE CORRI, MIRIAM KARLIN | RE-RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW IN SELECTED UK THEATRES
Stanley Kubrick's 1971 big-screen adaptation of Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange was for its time a film of the future. Given the highly-charged political climate we find ourselves in, not to mention recent concerns over street crime, it now remains a film for the present. British audiences will get yet another chance to view and review the film when it is re-issued as the latest Kubrick classic by the BFI as a UK wide release and the first in nineteen years from April 2019.
Kubrick conceived a heightened fantasy when he produced the film as a follow-up to 2001: A Space Odyssey, when his long-cherished Napoleon project fell through, but its unique mix of design (by the late John Barry) and weird language provided a tasty attraction to the youth of the early 1970s, leading to its notorious reputation in this country. There is little that this writer can add to the immense backlog of historical reference that has been written about A Clockwork Orange and readers can more or less rely on so much stuff out there about its troubled first-run history and its withdrawal by Kubrick before it's re-issue in 2000 after his death. There is, of course, the excellent Taschen volume The Stanley Kubrick Archives which has a whole chapter dedicated to the film with official stills and interviews.
To the uninitiated, A Clockwork Orange is the tale of Alex (Malcolm McDowell), an unapologetic youth who presides over his gang of 'Droogs' in a crumbling London metropolis and pulls no punches when it comes to depicting the heinous acts of violence they participate in. However, Alex's fellow 'Droogs', Dim, Georgie, and Pete (Warren Clarke, James Marcus, Michael Tarn) are beginning to question his motives and desire more legitimate means...
Although A Clockwork Orange does have a rather dated look nowadays, the electronic score by Walter Carlos, its universal themes of disenfranchised youth, and the subtext of political forces trying to find a solution to the malaise on its watch still resonate nearly half a century on.
The film uses violence in a purposeful way to make a constructive analysis of what inhabits an individual's true nature, to an extent greater than any number of violent offerings before or since. Of course, much of the impact and quality of the film's artistic intent is still down to Malcolm McDowell's legendary performance as Alex, complimented by a great ensemble of supporting actors. From the opening stare through to the climax, McDowell owns the screen throughout and interprets Burgess' words with enthusiastic vigour.