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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 7/21/99
updated: 6/15/01




A Clockwork Orange

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

The Films of Stanley Kubrick on DVD


A Clockwork Orange (new Kubrick Collection)


A Clockwork Orange
1971 (2001) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A-/C+

Specs and Features

137 mins, R, matted widescreen (multiple aspect ratios, on average matted at 1.47:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:15:36, in chapter 22), Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, awards listing, film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (36 chapters), languages: English and French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, Close Captioned



A Clockwork Orange - Kubrick Collection


A Clockwork Orange
1971 (1999) - Warner Bros.

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/C+/C+

Specs and Features

137 mins, R, matted widescreen (multiple aspect ratios, on average matted at 1.47:1), single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:15:27, in chapter 22), Snapper case packaging, theatrical trailer, awards listing, film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (36 chapters), languages: English and French (DD mono), subtitles: English and French, Close Captioned


Warning: This review is written in Nadsat ("clockwork" speak)!

Oh my brothers, it should be said that of all of Kubrick's sinny, A Clockwork Orange is probably the most dorogoy. It's a movie that crawls right into your guttiwuts, and takes you into a world laced with equal parts uncomfortable laughter and fear. I make no appypolly loggies for my personal affection for A Clockwork Orange, and although it's not my absolute favorite of Kubrick's sinny, it's still up there for me. As uncomfortable as it is to viddy, this film stands as one of the greatest, and most violent, anti-violence movies ever made.

A Clockwork Orange concerns the sadistic (and eventual redemptive) adventures of a futuristic prestoopnik named Alex, and his fellow droogs, as they entertain themselves with a little of the ultraviolence. Alex and the droogs beat the piss out of a pyahnitsa ded, prevent a Devotchka from being raped by battling a rival gang, and then go on to rape a few cheenas themselves. Of course, bad deeds don't go unpaid, and Alex is turned upon by his shaika, and left hanging in the wind. To test a new aversion technology, developed to purge evil thought from the mind, the government makes Alex a guinea pig, sucking out what made Alex... well, Alex, including his love for Beethoven. He's left to reenter society half the man he was, and face the people he once maligned, who are now after him much the way he was after them. Will Alex stay society's good son? Or will society destroy Alex?

Aside from those questions, the most asked question that everyone has about A Clockwork Orange is: "What exactly is A clockwork orange anyway?" It's never really stated in the film - the film makes no sense of it, and it's such a visual term, that it's hard to apply common sense to it anyway. But look no further my brothers - the answer is simple, and very metaphorical. The underlying theme of the film (and the book it was based on, by Anthony Burgess) is in the definition of moral freedom. Moral freedom is a human being's own choice to be able to perform both good and evil at any moment.

This idea manifests itself in the symbolic representation of a "clockwork orange". In the introduction to Burgess's novel, Burgess states that if one "can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange - meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with color and juice but is, in fact, only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State." Furthering his thought, Burgess continues to say, "It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil. The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate." Of course, moral freedom is never truly attained in the film, because Alex is neither totally good, or totally evil, but a full mix of both characteristics. This holds true, even after the conditioning Alex goes through with the Government. It is true that the Government tries to make Alex totally good through conditioning, but because it's coerced goodness, moral freedom is not truly achieved.

When it comes to scholarly discussions about A Clockwork Orange, the truth is it all boils down to this - it's just a very cool movie based on a very cool book. I just love watching it. I especially love watching it with people who have never seen it. Most people squirm, and look over at me all poogly, as I enjoy the film. I know what happens, I pony the underlying meaning of it all, and until they sit through it all, they think it's just a sick movie with no redemptive elements whatsoever. Those of us in the know, however, can appreciate A Clockwork Orange as a masterstroke by two brilliant men.

Kubrick films are not to be fillyed with and, as such, Warner Bros. has gone back and cleaned up this film proper. Now they've given it back to us on DVD in grand style. The original DVD release was simply okay looking . On this new disc, the video presentation is colorful and bright. Grain isn't as apparent throughout the film as it was on the previous disc, but there is still some grain here and there (that's to be expected). What is important is that the detail is sharp and the colors are stronger when held up against the other disc.

When you compare the two disc's zvook (sound) quality, you have a major jump. The first disc was in mono that showcased an annoying tinniness and apparent analog hiss that was very annoying. That's gone in the new disc. We now have Dolby Digital 5.1 that renders a very full and playful sound field, which fits the film nicely. There are a few spots where it could have been a bit louder, but when you consider that the scratchy shoom has been cleaned up, it's not worth complaining about. The extra features once again include the theatrical trailer and an awards listing - that's it. But, while I would have liked a lot more, I guess it's fine.

It's just darned nice to finally see A Clockwork Orange in better quality on DVD. Now that the transfer is improved, with fuller sound as well, I'm a happy droog. I'd still like to one day see a wider range of extra features. But that's not going to happen. And as it stands, it's fine - not oozhassny at all. A good biblio disc, that adds to your ability to complete your Kubrick collection. My opinion is, it's a very good disc to kupet. Viddy well, my brothers, viddy well.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com

The Films of Stanley Kubrick on DVD

A Clockwork Orange (new version)


The Stanley Kubrick Collection (new version)


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