Plot: What’s it about?
Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) likes to have a good time, but his idea of fun doesn’t match that of most people, to say the least. He loves to engage in some ultraviolence, forcible “in-out”, and of course, a game or two of Hogs of the Road with passing motorists. He and his fellow droogs leave a trail of death, destruction, and despair behind them, but in truth, it is unlikely that they’ll ever be punished, unless the circumstances were extreme. Alex arrives home late and wakes up late, but his parents try to keep him on track, though it never works in the least. So he spends each day as the last, looking to bust some heads, break some stuff, and perhaps tap into a young lass and whittle the hours away. He is the leader of his band of droogs and rules them with an iron hand, which leaves them with a sour taste at times, to be sure. But will Alex have to face the music for his actions and if so, what will become of him and how will anyone hope to turn this lost cause around?
I believe this film ranks among the most controversial of all time, but I also think it deserves a place among the finest examples of cinema, to be sure. Although I don’t think the movie holds the same shock value as it once did, it still packs a high level of violence and in memorable form, to say the least. The rape sequence, the conversation with the old man in the tunnel, and Alex’s treatment scenes all burn into the viewer’s mind, whether that is desired or not. This is due to the power behind the scenes, from the performances to the production design to of course, Kubrick’s masterful direction. Kubrick creates an atmosphere that shatters cinema standards, making one of the most potent pictures of all time in the process. Malcolm McDowell’s incredible performance also takes this to another level, in what I think is his most powerful and lasting effort, to be sure. This film was rushed to DVD the first time around, but Warner has returned to it, giving it a restored & remastered transfer in the run, which is excellent news. I give this film my highest recommendation, but make sure you can handle it, my brothers and sisters…
As I mentioned above, I think this film contains Malcolm McDowell’s best performance, which is a real compliment to his work here. I think McDowell is a more than solid worker and has proven himself many times, but I hold this as the peak of his career. I don’t mean peak as in success by any means, but I do believe this is his most powerful effort. I am even more impressed by his turn since this was early in his career, only his third feature film, to be specific. I’d be blown away by this performance from a veteran, but from a rookie of sorts, that even more dynamic and impressive, at least I think so. You can also see McDowell in such films as Hardcore, Tank Girl, Caligula, Blue Thunder, Cat People, and Milk Money. The cast also includes Patrick Magee (Rough Cut, Chariots of Fire), Warren Clarke (Ishtar, Top Secret!), Michael Bates (Bedazzled, Passage to India), Clive Francis (Longitude, Girl Stroke Boy), and James Marcus (Never Never Land, Let’s Get Laid).
Video: How does it look?
A Clockwork Orange is presented in a 1.66:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. This new edition is dynamic to see, as the restoration is obvious and should more than please fans. The print looks as clean as a whistle, with minimal grain or debris to hinder the experience, such as the previous version was saddled with. The colors have been refined also, which results in more natural, effective hues, as well as normal, warm flesh tones. The contrast is sharper than expected, with quite rich blacks and a deep sense of detail, I never thought I’d see the film in such grand form as this, I assure you. I know some will complain nonetheless, but this is a gorgeous transfer, so I shan’t complain too much.
Audio: How does it sound?
I wasn’t expecting much from the included Dolby Digital 5.1 option, but it turned out to be an excellent mix, much more immersive than I had figured. The surrounds see use often, from the supern musical score to some of the more active scenes, which means you’ll feel right in the middle of it all, very cool indeed. The music is lush and well placed, while dialogue remains tight and sharp, with no volume errors to speak of. I do wish the original mono were also included, but this is a terrific mix and shouldn’t let folks down. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a list of the awards the film won, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.