Stanley Kubrick‘s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ satirical science fiction novel tells the tale of Alex (Malcolm McDowell), a young man “whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven,” as he goes from a hellraising leader of a gang of thugs in future Britain to the subject of extreme psychological conditioning designed to “cure” him of his problems. A Clockwork Orange would go on to become one of the most popular adornments of college dorm rooms all over the world (the most common image being the one featuring Alex and his “droogs” in silhouette as they walk down a tunnel, about to beat the holy hell out of a homeless man) — and one of the most influential installments in the genre of dystopian cinema, a film that may not pack as powerful a punch over 40 years later if only because we’ve now all watched it so many times. Despite its controversial scenes of violence (sexual and otherwise), A Clockwork Orange is one of Kubrick’s most playful films (perhaps second only to Dr. Strangelove) — it’s most certainly the film’s wicked sense of humor that makes its subversive material all the more impressionable. By the way, the endlessly quotable fractured adolescent slang with which Alex narrates the film (and novel) is known as Nadsat, which comprises Slavic, English and Cockney rhyming slang. Enjoy, O my brothers and little sisters.
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