Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the famous novel is a futuristic/retro film about violence, sex and our conditioning to these actions. I just wish he kept the final chapter of the international novel since it presents complexities and questions only hinted at in the film. In the film Alex stays a bad boy, but in the novel he goes back to being a good one. But how much of that is residual brainwashing? The ambiguities actually make for a deeper and darker ending than just leaving him evil.
That doesn’t make it a bad movie, far from it actually. A Clockwork Orange is a great movie, and a great adaptation of the novel, even if they did change some character traits. Alex rapes two little ten-year-old girls, not two willing teenagers. These changes slightly dull the spiked edges of Alex, but Kubrick is smart enough to keep enough of the form of the novel, if not the exact letter. While I didn’t like these changes, they didn’t distract me enough to not enjoy the film.
I loved McDowell’s performance as Alex. Slightly over-the-top, maniac eyed, sexually devious and completely unhinged this is as perfect a match between actor and character as Vivien Leigh and Scarlet O’Hara.
And I adored the visual design of the film – the large phallus objects everywhere and nude female bodies really intrigued/confused/disturbed me. The sleek and clean lines in other scenes really gave more presence to the violence that would proceed. Kubrick was a fantastic visual filmmaker and this film is just another example of that. That hilarious/disturbing milk bar at the beginning of the film could only have been cooked up by his demented mind. This might just be my favorite Kubrick film.