a clockwork expired

life imitates art: kubrick and burgess start off well together but eventually part ways

I watched Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and while I’d like to dismiss it as utter shite and be done with it, the film has been studied at Cambridge and the set and costume designs are iconic, so I’ll take the time to elaborate.

Kubrick’s film ages poorly. The exaggerated cinematography and acting style may have been ‘fresh’ decades ago, but are kitsch now. That’s bad enough. What I take most exception to, however, is Kubrick not only slashes Burgess’s ending, he chops the balls off Alex.

Alex is no victim.

In the novel, there are no sexual advances made by P. R. Deltoid; Alex drugs and savagely rapes two ten-year old girls, a 180ยบ departure from the borderline-slapstick sex scene in Kubrick’s adaptation; he ‘accidentally’ murders three strangers instead of one; and the ‘naughty, naughty’ cat-lady isn’t a pervert, just old.

not the only balls mishandled by kubrick

Kubrick’s tendency to mitigate Alex’s crimes denies the seminal question in Burgess’s novel: Alex is rotten to the core, but does he deserve to be robbed of his will? Pandering to the viewers’ sympathy by victimizing or endearing him while objectifying his victims, is as condescending as it is objectionable.

While I can abide the obvious limitations of the medium, what I find untenable is Kubrick’s low opinion of his audience. The pretentious and tortured direction (excluding the murder animation, which I dig immensely) and Alex’s overstated regression are only further insult.