A sadistic hoodlum is imprisoned for murder and experimented on with behavior modification therapy intended to cure his violent tendencies.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Written and Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Philip Stone,
Sheila Raynor, Warren Clarke, James Marcus,
Godfrey Quigley, Adrienne Corri, David Prowse
Based on the novel by Anthony Burgess
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Director,
Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing
A Clockwork Orange is the kind of film that you hate the first time you watch it, but start to actually understand the more you watch it. It's by far Stanley Kubrick's most disturbing film, and stands as one of the most uncomfortable films ever made. But it works. It only works because Kubrick is the only director at that time who was willing to cross certain lines that other filmmakers dared to never cross. By this time, he'd already glorified pedophilia, insulted American and Soviet nuclear policy, and been accused of stealing state secrets by NASA. Is it any surprise that he would be responsible for a film all about the fun side of rape and murder?
Of course, that's only the first half. Our hero (so to speak) is young Alex (in Malcolm McDowell's strongest and most iconic performance of his career), a sadist, rapist, thief, gang-leader, and all-around little bastard. His favorite activity? A bit of the old ultraviolence. When one of his fun times go awry and he kills someone, he's sent to prison where he is selected for experimental brainwashing. From there, Alex transforms from psychotic villain to sympathetic everyman, in a 180 only Kubrick could pull off convincingly. The rest of the movie sees Alex struggling to conform to society's rules at the whim of the government, even going so far as to be victimized himself by the very man whose wife he raped in the first act.
The film works as a social commentary on the effectiveness of rehabilitation and society's innate love of violence. A Clockwork Orange, much like Kubrick's other films, is his own critique on the prison system and the overindulgence of youth. It's filled with strong performances, an oddball score, and a script that will make your head spin. But it is disturbing. Be warned. You will never hear Beethoven the same again.