Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Clockwork Orange: Social Order Within the Moral Perimeter

“It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.”

In what may be perhaps Stanley Kubrick’s most controversial feature presentation, A Clockwork Orange, an adaptation of the Andrew Burgess novel of the same name, is one of those films that provokes our deepest comprehension about ourselves and challenges our well-established notions of what is moral, and what makes us free, and what makes us human.

Revolving around the story of a young hoodlum living in a not-so-distant dystopian future where violent crime is not only rampant and commonplace, but where the government of such a society is willing and capable of inhuman repression in order to stop the anarchy.

In its initial screening in the United States, it was slapped with an X rating by the Motion Picture Association of America for its graphic depiction of “ultraviolence” – rape, murder, and torture which for even today are still regarded as taboo imagery in films. Nevertheless, the film is celebrated as one of Kubrick’s masterpieces, garnering both popular and critical acclaim, having been nominated for four Academy Awards and scoring well in the box office. The film remains to be cult classic and is even touted as one of the greatest films of all time.


At face value, what really made this film stand out and made it gain so much public outcry and controversy is because of the very explicit portrayal of the crimes committed by the main character on screen. The film explores the deepest and darkest recesses of human nature and one way for us to be able to explore and experience it is for the film to really incite our senses and perceptions, and to very well mirror reality – that man in his most primal and base nature is capable of doing such atrocities to his fellow man, and that very nature is inherent in everyone. Arguably, the film is trying to show us that the fact of the matter is, there is only but a thin line that separates us, the audience, from the main character, and perhaps this brings us towards the discussion on morality.


Of what is good and what is evil, and of what is just and what is unjust, is also examined in this film. Morality, as established clearly during our class discussions, is and will always be critically intersubjective, heavily relying on the context of the environment and the specific behavior of the actors. As such, it is indeed difficult for the viewer of this film to make a fair value judgment on whether or not the acts committed by the main character could be considered as moral. Obviously, for us who have watched this film, we are understandably disgusted of the things that we see and consider such acts as evil and immoral. We live in a society that clearly decries such behavior, and we have the law and the fear of societal banishment which prevents us from committing such acts in the first place.

Do the same standards apply in the society where the main character resides? I don’t think so. If you look closely, it becomes increasingly apparent that the main character’s disposition towards sex and violence is not so much uncommon in that society. He isn't so much an anomaly in an entire society that takes glee in depravity and debauchery. His own urges and behavior are equally displayed by people all around him; the homosexual undertones of many of the characters, the seeming acceptance to hypersexuality as seen in the motif and backdrops of the residences of the people, and the violence both state and non-state actors engage in order to achieve their interests. Putting all these together, it is easy to see that the main character is a product of a decadent society- both present in its highest echelons down through its entirety. How then could we say that the main character is “immoral” and “evil” if upon this context, he is clearly doing what is expected from him? Again, we must question ourselves on what really constitutes morality, and more importantly, who gets to decide what is good and what is evil.


While the film did not explicitly advocate or condemn a certain political ideology or agenda, we could say that it is a critique of the two extremes in the political spectrum – the idea of absolute liberty for individuals against absolute order for the state.

The first part of the film clearly shows the perils of absolute liberty as we see the main character giving in to his most primal nature – he rapes and plunders merely because it provides him the highest pleasure for himself. On the other hand, the latter part of the film portrays the complete opposite. The state, in its bid towards absolute order, does whatever means necessary to bring law and order in that society, even going as far as to dehumanize its citizens to become mere drones incapable of making a choice.

We could clearly see that Kubrick is making a stand against the unfettered use of power, both at an individual and state level. To that end, perhaps, Kubrick is speaking out against the destructiveness and dangers of both anarchy and totalitarianism.


Finally, another important aspect that we must look into in this film is the notion of humanity and what makes us human in the first place. The prison chaplain puts it plainly:

“When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.”

“Choice. The boy has no real choice, has he? Self-interest, the fear of physical pain drove him to that grotesque act of self-abasement. Its insincerity was clearly to be seen. He ceases to be a wrongdoer. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice.”

The prison chaplain raises an important point regarding this issue. The only thing that separates us from being mere animals driven by our primal instinct for self-preservation is the fact that we are capable of making choices. Humans, we could say, exist a cut above animals because we are not driven by instincts alone, but rather have the intelligence and the capacity which enables us to decide the paths that we take.

The main character’s cruelty is a choice he made for himself. The same way the other characters in the film also had the choice to be good or to be evil. When the treatment eliminates his ability to do evil, he becomes less of a threat to society, but also, less human. He is not truly good because he didn’t choose to be good, and that choice we have to make is vital to being a complete human being. Free will is indeed what makes us human, and as we saw in the film, if devoid of that essential nature we become lesser than humanity – a clockwork orange.

Ultimately, the film raises some fundamental questions regarding the way we envisage ourselves and reality. Beyond its provocative and polemic nature, and its graphic imagery and content, the film not only challenges our well established norms and standards, but also provides us a more critical assessment and snapshot of the true state of society as well as our humanity.



jolly said...

It is indeed rare for one to come across a film like that of Stanley Kubrick's 1971 masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange. A haunting visual adventure that tells the tale of a charismatic yet thuggish hooligan named Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) in dystopian Britain, it pins the viewers down to their seats through the disturbing and thought-provoking themes of morality, corruption, and humanity. It's one of those films that seems to permanently leave a mark on one's memory: From its content, message, all the way to the images and the little details, as a whole Kubrick has pinned the movie to perfection, leaving an indelible mark on whoever chances upon it.

From the onset we recognize that our protagonist is no ordinary young man. He leads his gang of "droogs" in their nightly escapades of sex, rape, and murder--"a bit of the old ultraviolence", as our first-person narrative of Alex would have it. After a night of breaking in a lady's house, however, Alex gets caught by the police and is eventually sentenced to prison for counts of murder. Then it is in prison that he strategizes his quickest way out. He learns about an experiment that the government would later on conduct, and eventually gets chosen as volunteer for the aversion therapy for rehabilitating criminals. The Ludivico technique, as what they call it, is then forced on our protagonist until it takes its toll. For instance, he is forced to sit through hours of bad films that show the gruesome conditions of rape and murder, whilst playing his favorite music, "Ludwig Van's Ninth". Alex is released and begins to face the outside world anew with his conditioned reflexes. Was the experiment successful, and to what extent? It seems our anti-hero did not take the conditioning very well, for he almost ended his life because of the debauchery of Beethoven's classical opus. However, the mere fact that he was able to overturn the effects of such experiment by the end of the film gives viewers an unsettling feeling.

Kubrick's stomping, singing, tap-dancing, cheery ol' Alex is prime example of a man shaped by the tumultuous factors of the civilized world: He is who he is not because he is inherently evil and demented, but because the very institutions and influences around him are programmed in that matter. As Rousseau speculated, man isn't inherently bad or good--naturally, one is uncorrupted. This morality (or in this case, immorality) that we speak of is only developed as the artificial environment is established. So in the context of the distinctly futuristic Britain, Alex is hounded by the malfunctioning society and becomes who he is as a reflection of theirnorms. For instance, we can see that the society Alex lives in is one that is sexually-driven, therefore explaining his unwarranted taste for eroticism: the Cat Lady's house is filled with hardcore pornographic art for one thing, and the slides that the psychiatrist flashed the recovering Alex in the latter part of the film naturally showed a naked woman for another. Another is the loose inculcation of values by determining institutions such as the family and school. because of the apparent lack of guidance by Alex's parents, he is able to forego proper education, run around and wreck havoc in the streets. The youth's conception of morality--of what constitutes goodness--- is overshadowed by the crookedness around him.

jolly said...


Can we say therefore that Alex is evil? In contrast to our own society, perhaps. The distinction and beauty of the film, for me, is how it deviates from our conception of decency, or to be more precise, normalcy. The "wrong" or "evil" in the film is made explicit: from the first scene itself, we are already made to feel uneasy with the image of Alex, Pete (Michael Tarn), Georgie (James Marcus), and Dim (Warren Clarke) drinking a mescaline-spiked bottle of milk at the Korova Milk Bar in the midst of vulgarly-positioned mannequins turned tables.

The film is very consistent with its use of imagery and music, as it pushes audiences to their limits. One of the striking images was the statue of four Jesus Christ, drinking a bottle of beer, with Beethoven's music blasting in the background. Apart from its blatant sexual content and use of violence, its strong use of images attacked the established norms, such as that of religion. No wonder it was slapped with an X rating. Nonetheless, Kubrick’s perfectionist approach to the film paid off: the mis-en-scene (from its use of Nasdat language, to its loud art deco, all the way to the perplexing use of synthesizers) not only reflected the idiosyncratic and amoral dystopian society thar the film espoused, it also came out a very coherent whole.

With A Clockwork Orange, there is still much to explore: there question of choice, the dominance of the male and its subjection of females as merely objects, and even the extent to which the state pervades the private domain. It only goes to show how the rich the film is in presenting the ills of society, done in such artistic flair.



Nons said...


They say A Clockwork Orange is worse than any film we have watched this semester. The film, they say, is disturbing and the scenes are something that is out of this world. I thought I would be shocked after watching the film—disgusted and maybe even sick. But after watching it, there was no other reaction from me, other than being slightly disgusted at the pornographic themes that the film showed. I wondered at my reaction and after some introspection, I realized that I was used to these kinds of films. Though I haven’t watched many with those themes, I know that these things (those scenes in the film) happen in real life. I read them in the news or heard them over the radio and they are not something new. Maybe during the 1970s it was revolutionary. After all, you wouldn’t normally see tables made out of naked mannequins of women in lewd positions, would you? Radical. Ground breaking. Out of this world. That’s how I see Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

The film starts off in a way that pulls you right in. The main character, Alex DeLarge, it seems is looking at you directly, pulling you in to the movie and making it seem that you are his target. The scene is made all the more eerie when you see their faces—deranged—and all the more creepy when you see where they are. It set the tone for the whole movie—that this is not your normal world, where everything is fancy and happy but rather this is a dark world where a normal person wouldn’t survive. The language also added to the idea that this is not your normal world—they used slang to communicate and even that is not really understandable. As the film continues on, the idea that this is not your normal world is reinforced. For who could do such things? Rape a woman while her husband is in right in front of you, and all those horrible things. It was as if the switch that makes us human is turned off in Alex DeLarge and he is turned into a savage who easily gives in to his instincts. There’s also that sense of being God—he can do anything and won’t be caught doing it. And that’s why no one can stop him. But we see that it is not the case as he was later caught by the authorities half way through the film.

Nons said...


Is Alex DeLarge human? They say that being able to choose is what makes us human. If that is the case then Alex DeLarge is a human being. But don’t animals have the ability to choose as well? Not as well as human beings, but they can choose on who will be their prey and so on. To elaborate further, to be human is to have a choice and to use that ability to choose in a manner that doesn’t go against man’s nature. In Alex DeLarge, we don’t see him use his ability to choose in an apt manner, but rather he chooses in a way that disregards other people’s feelings. We see him use people as toys to be played with and discarded. After the Ludivico treatment, Alex now is supposedly more human given that he is now averse to anything that seems to us is evil. But is he more human after the treatment? I say no. Alex DeLarge is still the same before but this time his instincts have been honed to reject things that he was conditioned to reject. The switch that makes us human is still turned off in Alex and most probably will never be turned on even with treatment.

I mentioned earlier that what I had seen in the movie didn’t faze me in the least. I mentioned that maybe it’s because of the news that I see in newspapers, television stations and the radio. The things people do nowadays is maybe nowhere near what Alex did but the grotesqueness of what they do is comparable to what he did. Look at the massacre in Ampatuan. Isn’t that almost the same as what Alex and his gang are doing? They disregard what society deems good and do whatever they want while the people involved in the Ampatuan massacre disregard a nation’s mores. Look at the war that the US is involved in and then the people who keep on killing innocent people in the war. Isn’t that the same as what we see in A Clockwork Orange? It’s a sad thing really to not be affected that much by a movie that shows every horrible thing that you can think of. But that’s the world we have today. And that’s what makes it so sad in the end.


Othello II/Lloyd said...

“A Clockwork Orange” is a 1971 motion picture written, produced, and directed by American Stanley Kubrick. It was based on the 1962 novel of the same name written by British author Anthony Burgess. It was nominated for various awards from different award giving bodies including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at the 44th Academy Awards among others. Central key themes of the film include morality, totalitarianism, free will, and the goodness of evil.

The concept of morality (and immorality) is tackled throughout the film. The film poses a question whether it is right or wrong to employ a controversial practice to curb crime and violence. The answer is viewer whether or not it is acceptable is left to the viewer.

Totalitarianism is also central to the film. The use of the fictional Ludovico technique in the film is very similar to the use of conditioning techniques to curb crime and dissent in totalitarian states. Police brutality is also exhibited in the film. These are common in states under totalitarian rule.

On the other hand, the notion of free will (or choice) is also explored. The film suggests that the absence of free will on the part of an individual dehumanizes him/her. Related to an individual’s free will is the film’s most important theme - “the goodness of evil.” The film suggests that without evil desires, we cease to be human. It also suggests that without free will, we are dehumanized. This writer, however, does not believe in such a concept. There is no such thing as “goodness of evil.”

There is no doubt that this film of Stanley Kubrick succeeded in serving as a social commentary on the aforementioned key central themes. However, this writer believes that the use of excessive violence and nudity in most of the film’s scenes is unnecessary. The film can still convey the film’s message clearly and raise its points even without these scenes of rape and ultra violence. To add, the film lacks redeeming value (as it was revealed in the film’s end that Alex DeLarge was not ‘cured’ at all).

All in all, “A Clockwork Orange” is a good film. It is more than just a film about rape and ultra violence/ Although the film is very disturbing, this writer will remember it more as a critique of two unwanted phenomena – totalitarianism (promotion of law and order through repression) and anarchy (or complete absence of law and order). Though the film does not advocate a particular ideology, it still can be deemed as an effective vehicle for political socialization. It made a viewer like this writer think on what should be put into consideration first – the free will of individuals or law and order in society. Giving primacy to one’s free will has its consequences (i.e. disrespect of law; anarchy). On the other hand, giving primacy to law and order causes excessive repression. In a way, the film suggests that there should be a balance between these.


katwinny said...

Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ novel “A Clockwork Orange” is a film which contains the mixture of “ultraviolence” and bright visual display. Looking first with the physical, the stunning set designs balanced with Alex and his droogs’ minimalist costume, at least on the first part of the movie, makes the film very delighting to the eyes. Of course, that’s without taking into consideration what the characters were actually doing. This was also supported with sound effects that make you believe what you were watching was not an X-rated one. Also the dialogues were very different as Alex narrated using the ‘Nadsat’ language, playing with words that got me constantly interested with knowing the meaning of the words he spoke.

The character of Alex is a portrayal of all the evil in the world but somehow, I did not despise him at all. During the aftermath of Ludovico Technique, I even felt for him and sympathize with his being defenceless. This is just one of the ironies the film contains. Even though Alex does all the evil acts, his character is still very likeable. This may be the effect of having him as our biased “Humble Narrator.” Malcolm McDowell also contributed to this effect because he portrayed Alex in such brilliance, being so charming while doing his criminal acts.

“When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.” The central theme of the film is a man’s free will to choose for himself. The film is divided into two parts, with the first giving Alex the freedom to do whatever he chooses and the second taking away that freedom. Alex acts using only his instincts, comparable to animals, but doing this does not make him different from the society he lives in. It is portrayed as ‘normal’ for a man to act this way. On the second part, the state gets to control Alex by ‘curing’ him from his violent and sexual tendencies. In such state, the prison chaplain states that he ceased being a man, thus the title “A Clockwork Orange.” In these two extreme cases, Alex does not have his ‘humanity’. So what does constitute being human? What I got from the film is that it is not enough for us to have complete freedom to choose what to do, but humanity is present when we are able to control that freedom and not the other way around.

Can we truly say that Alex is an ‘evil’ person? When looking through our own social norms, then yes he is evil. Society tells us it is bad to steal, rape, break-in and kill. But taking into account the society which he was part of then it becomes hard to tell. Again, critical intersubjectivity comes into our mind. How do you say he is evil when there was no good to compare it with? It requires a thing’s opposite to recognize that such thing does actually exist. Although his acts were against the law, everyone seems to be doing the same thing anyway, with sex and violence constantly encountered and witnessed by Alex.

The political aspect of the film is its two parts’ symbolism of a state having total control and having none at all, the two extremes of the political spectrum. These two extremes are both depicted as not ‘ideal’ for a state as both set-ups produce its own victims. The viewer is then left to think that a balance between the two is what’s ideal but how to accomplish this is another thing.

The film may be controversial because of the sex and ultraviolence it contains but looking beyond these, we can find a film that has depth. Let us not be ‘clockwork oranges’ by just accepting what is offered to us, rather, let’s explore what is behind these acts. Although it contains pornographic images which always result with the subordination of women, this film is one of my favourites from the whole semester.


denisefrancisco said...


Indeed, watching A Clockwork Orange is a very unusual experience for me. It has challenged me in such a manner that I had to get out of my comfort zone as I am used to watching typical movie genres such as fantasy, action, drama, comedy and the like. However, this odd experience has proved to be somewhat worthwhile as it challenges the individual to go beyond the images presented in the film and further analyze the message that it wishes to convey.

At the beginning of the film, I knew for a second that the character Alex DeLarge portrays is immoral, evil and very dehumanizing, that I have labeled him as someone who is exhibiting a behavior that is not expected of human beings. However, when the film ended, what used to be a very firm and personal stand on Alex’s behavior was challenged. It somewhat made me think beyond my usual judgment, which is usually just a choice between good or bad. Here, I have come to analyze his character both as an individual and as a part of the society.

Whenever an individual does something, we cannot help but trace it to human nature. We know for a fact that what sets us apart from other living creatures is that we have both intellect and freewill. These two things aid us in making decisions. Just like Alex, choosing to commit ultraviolence was his choice. I personally think that his actions were well thought of, despite the fact that we consider these acts as evil. Exercising individuality reflects our human nature, whether our actions were good or bad. However, when placed in a larger spectrum such as the society, human nature becomes challenged. Certain standards are imposed upon the individual. He is subject to making decisions that will ensure the good of the society, despite the possibility that his personal choices and opinions will be pushed aside. It is as if human nature becomes limited that all it meant was choosing to do what is good, as dictated by the society. And as a result, these automatically imposed norms become the standards for judging an individual, to the very point of treating humans as robots who can be dictated what to do and what not to do. However, the film also presents the society as an influential factor when it came to the behavior of Alex. When we try to think about it, individuals unconsciously choose to do something relative to what they see around them. Despite the fact that freewill runs in their system, there is still a tendency for them to act in accordance to what is considered normal and accepted in the society to which they belong to. Therefore, I do not agree as to how the government came clean in the movie, to the point that they forced to change Alex’s personality in order to bring “order” in society. Because looking at it, the mechanisms in the government could have influenced Alex’s way of thinking and as well as the other citizens.

denisefrancisco said...


And so, this question becomes relevant: When we choose to be good, do we become moral? Or does it challenge our human nature?

For me, human nature becomes senseless if everything is imposed upon the individual. The very fact that the things existing around us are placed on opposite ends just goes to show that we are offered with a number of choices. And so, it is our option to choose between good or bad, provided that in the course of making such judgment, we are aided with an open mind. However, as individuals, we always have to situate ourselves within a society in order to be guided in making decisions not only for ourselves, but also for the people around us. We have to use our intellect and freewill responsibly. Judging our actions as either good or bad proves to be a challenging task. Both individualistic and societal views make it hard for us to choose to do the right thing. And so, every situation must be weighed before any decision or action. Human nature must be treated not as something rigid, but something that is flexible and has its weaknesses as well.


Czarina XD said...

“A film is, or should be, more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” – Stanley Kubrick

Through a satirical film like A Clockwork Orange (1971), it is the strength of such progression of diverging and disturbing moods and feelings that its celebrated director, Stanley Kubrick, indeed paid attention into. The upsurge when it comes to not just the graveness of the acts that were committed, but also the increasingly stifling yet unavoidable consequences that needed to be dealt with was effectively captured by Kubrick through the narration of who seemed to be the protagonist of the story—Alex DeLarge. But given such preference of the director, can such progress on selected fields undermine and consequently justify other developments in the story? And for this specific film, does prime focus on plot development regardless of its main character’s progress weaken the film’s effectiveness in conveying its messages?

Alex, being the central character in this story, underwent troubling circumstances in different places as regard to his initial behavior. In his circle of friends, collectively called as ‘the droogs”, he commanded them through fear and could almost get away with anything. His family, on the other hand, had minimal role in the beginning, letting Alex on his own. Alex’s chat with Mr. Deltroid, who seemed to be a concerned social worker at first, remained unsettled, with both of them not getting what they wanted for the other to do. The explicitness in the portrayal of his ultra-violence and lack of respect even made this film a center of controversy and left chills down the spine of its viewers. The breaking point of the film is a collision of their acts with the social order, and by that time, his acquaintances turned against him and Alex was sent to prison. The progress in the disposition of not just by its characters, but also by the film’s veiwers, were effectively embodied by Kubrick through the stark contrast between the first and the last half of this film, with Alex’s subsequent release after undergoing the Ludovico technique as the turning point. Presented then is a dilemma that even I couldn’t even quite settle on my own. Faced by the crimes he brutally committed, Alex appeared to me as an extremely violent and twisted man, and that the world will be very much safer for him to remain behind the bars. But does that constitute a poorly concealed and tremendously deplorable way of correcting him, which is through tinkering his perceptions and reactions? Alex’s acts were grave, but to do the same for him is an unsolvable moral dilemma—because they are both wrong.

But as the movie neared its ending, I got the impression that somehow, in some way, Alex had been “cured” from his past tendencies, though his repulsion against violence is higher and more explicit than a normal human. There is even some sort of sympathy for him when the people he went against before got back to him. Indeed, Kubrick was able to portray the progress of immorality from Alex’s actions, to the treatment he underwent, and unexpectedly, to Alex’s past victims to him. There is always someone doing something wrong throughout the movie. The movie seemed to have turned everyone into a criminal, with Alex remaining the only one who now isn’t. That was until he uttered those words… “I was cured, all right!” You mean he did not have any character development at all? Kubrick undermined this development over the progression of feelings and mood of the movie?

But that was what made it effective—because that was smart, unconventional and unforgettable.


remegio said...

“You are now 655321.” Words spoken by the officer to Alex DeLarge at his first day into the prison. This sentence speaks greatly of dehumanization. Branding people with numbers as names is in the first place dehumanizing. To a greater extent, the movie expresses a strong comment regarding which makes an act good and evil. In addition the movie tackles about what makes us human. In this movie the highlight is choice, choice having serious repercussions in determining morality and in examining humanity.

As brilliantly explained by Mr. Costales in his main entry, I truly agree that with the message of the movie which highlights that the absence of choice as a great dehumanizing factor. He is now comparable to a robot that is purely mechanical and has not capacity to do otherwise. The movie thus claims that choice is which differs people from animals for example that only do their actions based from their instincts. Whereas people can do actions in a myriad selection and if this capacity to choose is removed, then we are nothing different from mechanical entities. After the treatment, DeLarge was not acting as a human being since his capacity of doing otherwise has been eliminated by the use of physical torture. In this sense he is being forced into doing something out of his will thus making his actions meaningless. In this regard, his action of abstinence in the demonstration cannot be regarded as something moral or immoral since he cannot do otherwise. Thus actions can also be regarded as moral and immoral in the basis of what could have been otherwise done in lieu of that particular act.

Another point that the movie raises is the use of force and coercion. It was mentioned in the movie that “goodness comes from within” and that you cannot force someone to be good. In DeLarge’s case, he acted appropriately after the treatment however after enduring so much suffering and torture he chose to end his life rather than act appropriately. This implies that you cannot really force someone to be good because if you force them there will come a point and time which they will break down. In his case after the suicide attempt, he reverted back to his old self which thinks that acts of violence and sexual aggression are “real horrorshows”. The state of being good or bad is then not a phenomenon but a process. It does not stop and continues to progress as long as you exist.

The movie has been able to convince me that choice is really an integral part of being human, thus I can say that the movie is effective in conveying its message and is able to elicit various emotions. The movie is literally hard to watch, since it evokes different levels of disgust and hatred especially at the beginning of the movie. It is a very challenging movie to watch and finish with a smile. The content is very daunting and overwhelming and the musical scores somewhat magnifies these feelings.

tinborja said...

A Clockwork Orange

It is impossible to sit through this movie and not have a reaction; whether it be shock, disgust or amazement. Indeed, up till now, I am still finding it difficult to put into words the disturbing feeling I felt during the film’s most violent and thought-provoking scenes. I could never express enough that this is a film that I don’t recommend at all if one’s purpose is relaxation and fun. When my memory vividly reminds me of the most ghastly scenes, I still shudder with unknown trauma and disgust for the movie.

Then again, I could rant my way to 500 words about how disgusted I felt towards the film and not come up with anything substantial in the same way that I could ponder the shocking sensation while watching the movie till deadline but then that would not be productive. As such, to analyze the movie, it is crucial to look beyond the plot and the disturbing scenes, the violence and the sex for which this movie is popular for to understand and see its importance. The film, in so much as it presents the absolute worst aspects of men, still cannot be denounced as a film that belongs to the trash.

Visually striking is Stanley Kubrick’s use of surreal images and set pieces coupled with ingenious use of music to compliment the on-screen action, creates a world that perfectly reflects the oddity of the main character’s behaviour and the government’s intervention. It is no easy film to get through. I am a living testimony of the repulsion a viewer can feel after being subject to multiple scenes of violence and rape. However, there is no denying that it is a masterpiece far more complex than a walk through a world of youthful violence. Its brilliance is that while you cover your eyes and ears to the violence and brutality laid before you, your mind becomes open to the moral questions that the film poses.

Is it a moral film? If so, how is the good depicted? Indeed, in the same way that the main character, Alex, felt repulsed to the violence after seeing so much of it, plus the medication, the film depicts good by making the viewer so repulsed to that which is violent, to that which is evil such that the repulsion to evil makes us subconsciously realized that which is good. The question of morality is further showcased with the question of choice. How moral are you still when the choice is taken away and it is science that controls your capacity to do that which the government dictates to be right and good? Is the taking away of choice moral in itself?

The film poses so many questions and changes context so much that Alex is seen as either good or bad, a protagonist or an antagonist, a victim or not. Indeed the film leaves the viewer with the choice to label that which is moral and that which is not. The differing opinion on the film only pushes all the more the differences in defining morality that we have. This is why Clockwork Orange is a masterpiece. A real horror show, so to speak.

kristia said...

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, “A Clockwork Orange” is a film adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel of the same name. The film focuses on the adventures of Alex De Large, a delinquent whose primary interests were rape and ultra-violence. The young man was sent to jail and upon being re-conditioned went out of prison as a supposedly reformed man. The film discusses the ideas of morality, free will, and the role of the government in the society.

In the film, we are presented with a protagonist who engages in immoral acts. Alex De Large was someone who kills other people and rapes women just for fun. He also loved to engage in different violent activities. Eventually, he was sent to prison because of the crimes that he committed. In here, we can see how the society distinguishes a good from an evil act. There are some actions that would require the government to intervene and give corresponding punishments to some of its citizens. For example, doing something for fun is allowed as long as the act does not involve hurting or infringing the rights of other people.

Human beings then have the capacity to decide whether they want to be good or evil, whether they want to engage in moral or immoral acts. Free will is then inherent to human beings, we always have the option to choose what we want to do. And Alex De Large is an example of someone who chose to engage in immoral activities, even though he knew that he might hurt other people. With that, the film was able to show that given the freedom, men may not think wisely and choose to engage in evil acts. As we all know, evil activities may become detrimental to the society. Given those assumptions, should men be removed of their capacity to choose between good and evil? The film was able to effectively explore that issue. Alex De Large was exposed to the Ludovico technique wherein with the use of drugs, he got negative feelings whenever he was exposed to and engaged in violent acts. The government approved of this technique, focusing on their goal of reducing crimes in the country. The chaplain on the other hand disapproved of the act, saying that “Choice! The boy has no real choice, has he? Self-interest, the fear of physical pain drove him to that grotesque act of self-abasement. Its insincerity was clearly to be seen. He ceases to be a wrong-doer. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice.” In a way, I agree with the chaplain. Human beings should be given the freedom to choose what they want to do. If an act is imposed to a person, that act will lose its meaning. The “good” act may not really be considered as good because we can doubt the intentions of the person doing it – he might be doing it because he was forced to do it, not because he really had sincere intentions.

Another issue that was raised in the film was the role of the government in the society. The government is needed to maintain peace and order in the state. But in fulfilling that role, how far should the government go? Should they be allowed to remove the citizen’s freedom of choice so as to promote orderliness in the society? Should they remove the idea of choice that makes human beings human?

Although it might be a difficult film to watch, “A Clockwork Orange” is still something worth watching. It was able to show the importance of free will and of choice to us human beings. Free will is something that makes us human and we are lucky to live in a society wherein we are given the freedom to do whatever we want. This right should then not be abused – great care should be taken before we do something. We do have the freedom to do what we want, but our actions should still conform to what is considered to be “good” in our society.

Daben said...

This movie is negatively overrated! Ever since the start of the semester, we were already forewarned about the movie entitled "A Clockwork Orange." It is said that it will really challenge out wits and provoke our consciousness. It is also foretold that this movie will defy our beliefs about morality and the real world but I did not think so when I was watching it. Maybe because of the warnings and negative feeds that my expectation of the movie was heightened so much that the movie seemed to lack when it was viewed in class. Therefore, I can say that the effectivity of the movie in providing its message was lessened due to the unmet expectations brought about by the continuous warnings and feeds by the people around me.

I do not really think that the main character, Alex, has problems. Living in a community like that where no real law or order is being implemented, anyone can do anything they like. That is the main reason why laws were created, to limit what the human beings can do to other humans. Everyone has their own personal “evil” whether they are aware of it or not. For example, given the chance that I will not be punished for it, I will most probably do all the things Alex had done in the movie whether it be murder, rape, robbery, or drugs. Alex’s twisted mind is not really that twisted, he just actuates what a normal minds think based on the context of his society. Following the theory of human nature by Hobbes that each man is naturally bad, that every man is against every man, the behavior of Alex in the movie is natural because there is no such effective “Leviathan” to stop the people from actuating their animalistic desires.

Yes, the movie has nudity and unacceptable use of language but violence, immorality, injustice and gender-oppression cannot be depicted otherwise. Removing those and it is like asking a director to create a comedic movie without any jokes; or even a horror movie without any ghost or monsters or anything scary at all.

I like the movie. Not because it has obscene parts but because it mirrored my image of a chaotic world. I can see myself as the main character and I enjoyed every second of watching myself tearing the world down. It was like releasing my inner demon and seeing how things will fall into place once I have been unbound by morality and the concept of good and bad. I know it may sound awful but I am quite excited about it.

Higher expectations lead to dissatisfaction and dissatisfaction leads to lesser understanding of the messages conveyed in the movie. I was waiting for the thing that will actually shake my posture during the viewing but nothing came. At the end of it all, I was too busy waiting for nothing and it forbade me from enjoying the whole movie. Thank goodness Rubrick really made an outstanding work of art. I will want to watch this 1971 masterpiece again, this time I will just enjoy the movie and will not be affected by the feeds of the people around me.

Mendoza, A

lenggaleng said...


Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971) is a story about a young man named Alex DeLarge who is fond of violence and sex. He and his gang like to beat up other people and do naughty things like intruding into other people’s houses. Nevertheless, Alex’s enjoyment of violence comes to an end when he is arrested and convicted for intruding into a rich woman’s house and killing her. He suddenly adapts to a prison life and even helps the prison chaplain in his services.

His prison life suddenly comes to an end when he was chosen to be the subject of Ludovico Technique, an experiment that aims to be a treatment for criminals or for people who are violent like Alex. As he enters the treatment, he was given medicines and did some experiments on him, like making him watch violent films. Eventually, the experiment worked out on him well, since he tends to be sick every time he thinks of violence. Thus, from being a violent person, he then transforms into a person who detests violence. Furthermore, life gets harder for him after he was released from the treatment center. His actions are already controlled since his treatment was a successful one. However, at the end of the story, he surprisingly turns back into his old self again.

I think that some of the evident themes in this film are violence, freedom and family. Obviously, there is a lot of violence in this film since the main character is fond of doing violence. One can see rape, gang beatings, and even murder in the film. In other words, there are different forms of violence that can be seen in this film. There is also the theme of freedom in the film as freedom is taken away from Alex not only because he was imprisoned but because his actions were also controlled by his treatment. Also, one must take note of how taking away Alex’s freedom changed him as a person. This goes to show how freedom is very important to a person. Moreover, it is freedom that determines one’s behavior. Lastly, the theme of family is also evident in here as the importance of honoring your parents and having a home to come to is also shown in the film. An example of this was when a lodger at Alex’s house bashes Alex for being a disgrace to his parents.

lenggaleng said...


Furthermore, I would like to give a remark on the portrayal of women in this film. I can see that there is a subordination of women in this film because women in this film were portrayed as sex objects and object of fantasies. Women in this film are often seen naked and submissive to men. An example of this is through Alex’s fantasies. Women in Alex’s fantasies are naked and submissive to Alex. In addition, if there are women shown in the film that are not naked, they are otherwise portrayed as weak, fragile and subservient to men. An example of this is Alex’s mom who tends to cry a lot and the female doctor at the treatment center who was obviously an assistant only to the male doctor. Moreover, there are also acts of violence on women that is shown in the film such as rape and murder. In other words, I think that the film caters to the patriarchal set-up in the society.

It is obvious that this film depicts the debate between order and freedom. The film shows how freedom is compromised for the sake of order. One can see that Alex, being an outlaw and causing disorder in the society, is controlled by the society through the treatment that was given to him. Though giving him the Ludovico Technique may make him a good person, this does not benefit him either because his actions and decisions are limited. Furthermore, if he is limited, then he won’t have his own freewill, which then violates the nature of him as a human being. While controlling Alex may be beneficial to the society because it restores order for them, it is on the other hand detrimental to Alex’s well-being as this dehumanizes him. It may be the intention of the society to make him a good person, but the method used on him makes him not a person at all. Thus, I believe that in this situation, the end still does not justify the means.

Watching this film is very interesting because it really made me reflect on to what extent I should limit my actions, despite the given freedom that I have. Furthermore, this film made me think whether freedom should be a right or an opportunity for a person, since having too much freedom and not having freedom at all are both detrimental to the well-being of an individual. Thus, we must keep in mind that we should know how to keep a balance between freedom and limitations. We must remember that while there are things that we want to do, there are also things that we must not do.



migscardenas said...

"Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness? Is a man who chooses to be bad perhaps in some way better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?"

-Prison Chaplain

A Clockwok Orange is a highly intelligent film that will definitely influence the way people feel about the society that they are in. In a sense, it challenges our perception of our environment. The film may be produced decades ago, but its themes remain relevant even in the present context.

Set in a futuristic British society, A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dark-humored satirical film adapted on a Burgess’s novel of the same name. The story revolves around Alex DeLarge, a psychopath who doesn’t really care about anything except the satisfaction of his pleasures and personal desires. Along with the droogs (his gang), Alex engages in criminal activities which later on led to his capture. He then undergoes rehabilitation which involved a treatment thru a psychological conditioning technique. It became very controversial since the treatment would alter a criminal’s mindset in a way that deprives him of thinking freely and voluntarily. The movie was very visual with a lot of violent and sexual content.

One of the major themes of the movie is the inviolability of man’s freewill. As rational beings, we are said to be capable of thinking for our own without other people imposing on us. Many argue that this ability separates us from other living creatures. Other beings are driven by instinct and the very basic idea of survival. In the beginning of the film, it is obvious how Alex chose how to act. Instead of leading a normal and decent life, he followed the course of sinfulness. When he was caught and after undergoing the so-called Ludovico technique, Alex suddenly had a change of heart. He was completely dehumanized. He was stripped off his capacity to realize things on his own. He was conditioned to condemn his past actions. Simply put he did not have any choice. The option to be good was nothing but a meaningless act. He cannot discern anymore what is good from evil. He was turned into something like a robot which is programmed to act on the whims of his creator.

Another major issue in the film is the proper role of the government when it comes to the private lives of its citizens. Tied to the idea of freewill, the problem stems from the action of the government to instill morality in Alex’s mind through a controversial technique. How far can a state go to ensure longevity and survival? Can it sacrifice the welfare of a few individuals, in favor of many or the state in general? In a democratic society, all persons are of equal status at least theoretically. Given that, I personally disagree with the action of the government towards criminals like Alex. Morality is indeed an issue here. For many, it doesn’t matter how the government does things as long as they get things done. In a sense, the end justifies the means. Personally, if the means to an end has a questionable nature, it doesn’t matter whatever the outcome is. The government should design policies and programs always with the idea of general welfare in consideration.
A Clockwork Orange presented a multitude of issues that have been plaguing our society. Even the very notion of morality is very controversial. What is right or wrong depends upon the person who makes the judgment. Relative morality is highly debated until now that’s why there is a problem when it comes to the implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nevertheless, films like this make us more critical not just with the actions of the government but also our own behavior. Let us be rational beings and not just passive individuals.


migscardenas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristine Camia said...

If I conclude after this post that the Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange (1971) is a beautiful film, some will surely disagree while some will just grin and give you the look that says ‘I know the ‘reason’ why!’. We might disagree whether or not this is a film worth of our time but we could agree that this is a unique film and it has drawn different reactions from people. Some people liked it while some hated it (so much they even curse the film). Some people cannot stand watching it so their eyes were closed almost half of the film. There are some who showed disgust and some, admiration. There are some who thought while their watching that it’s a masterpiece while some thought it’s a waste of money and time.

Looking at these reactions alone, we can already say that the film is very interesting. If we will just look and judge the movie base on specific scenes (rape scene, murder, torture), there is really a big chance of disliking the film. There are scenes that are really disturbing and are not usually seen in commercial films. Different types of horrific crimes like rape and murder people don’t want to witness were shamelessly shown in the film. But if we will look at the film on its entirety, I will say that yes, it is a good movie. It is good because it shows parts of reality that people tend to ignore. It shows the frightening part of human nature that we don’t want to see. And most importantly, this movie will make you think and evaluate the society.

In the movie, we can see how the society treated people like Alex DeLarge. They view people like him as sick people with abnormalities in their system. They think that criminals have a contagious disease. And in their time where crimes are so rampant, they thought that putting them into prison is no longer enough and so its time to find a cure to their disease. They chose a new way of dealing with these unwanted parts of society. And so with prisoners like Alex, clinical experiments were done. They used convicted felons to find a cure for their disease. Maybe experimentally, this is the right thing to do. There is no better way of finding the right medicine for a disease but to try the medicine to the person who has the disease. But ethically, is this right? Do people can go this far just to solve societal problems like crimes? In the story, Alex was lucky because he survived but what if he died instead? Can we just consider him a collateral damage, a means to a good end?

By arguing this way, I am not saying that Alex don’t deserve any punishment. We can all see he committed a crime and he chose to participate in the experiment and so he really in some way, deserves what he experienced. However this is not the issue anymore. The issue that the movie is trying to raise is how far society can go to attain the ideal society they envisioned. In attaining a bigger goal for the society, giving up something from people’s personal possessions (property or rights) cannot be avoided. We can’t just have it all. But what it is and how much should people give? And in return, how much control can the government have over the lives of its people?

Answering these questions is always very crucial. Having too much control can lead to communism or dictatorship while having too much of personal freedom can lead to a disordered anarchical society. Locating a society’s goal is not an easy task. And in my opinion this is the reason why continuous interaction and negotiation between the people and the government is very important. Both sides cannot be apathetic. It is only through continuous interaction a society can find effective and morally/ethically accepted solutions for new or complicated problems that may arise from time to time.


louie.lisbog said...

“I was cured. All right!” (Alex DeLarge)

In a world where crime and violence are very rampant and one’s security is very much unstable, isn’t it nice if there shall be a cure for criminals and other evil people to stop and prevent them from doing things which can harm one’s safety and happiness. “A Clockwork Orange” is a science fiction film released in 1971 based on a novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess. Produced, written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, is about the life of Alex DeLarge who leads a small gang of four called the droogs. This group happens to do plenty of crimes such as rape, violent attacks, etc. Eventually, Alex shall be caught by the police and in order to shorten his stay in prison he volunteered to be a part of an experiment conducted by the government called the Ludovico technique. The result of this is that everytime Alex tries to do something bad against other people, he will feel a very bad feeling which prevents him to do harm against others. When he got out of the prison, the people that he had done badly redeem themselves against Alex which eventually caused him to leap outside the window and end his life. But he still managed to survive and the government was blamed because of what happened to him. When Alex woke up, the effects of the Ludovico effect were all gone and he was back again from what he was.

One of the major themes that were presented in this movie is the issue of morality. This movie showed its viewers that there are people that are really bad and whatever other people do to change these people, they will still come back from what they were. This movie conveys to us that morality is not a kind of disease that can be cured through artificial means. Goodness comes from the inside not from the outside, if a person does not want to change himself, it will be hard or probably impossible for other people to make him change.

louie.lisbog said...

Another issue is the concept of freedom. How much freedom should the state to give its citizens? This movie showed us the two extremes of freedom and what negative effects can it bring. Set in England, Alex and his gang lived in a free, democratic society. Because of the freedom that they experience, they can do whatever they want which includes harassment and destroying lives of innocent people. On the other hand, the movie showed us what too much government intervention can cause someone. In the movie Alex’s freedom to do whatever he wants was oppressed by the experiment given to him by the government. This situation represents the situation in society under a totalitarian government wherein the government intervenes furthermore towards changing the lifestyle and personality of its citizens. The movie showed how Alex lived difficultly after he had undergone the Ludovico technique and it conveys us that living under a totalitarian government is very hard in which sometimes you would just want to jump off a window and end yourself. Therefore, this movie conveys us that too much freedom and too little freedom is both bad. The state should learn to balance the level of freedom in which people can still enjoy their lives but can establish a fear towards breaking the law. The government should strengthen institutions like the police and the prison system in order to prevent delinquents in the society from doing criminal offenses in order to ensure security and order within the society.

From all the movies that we have watched, “A Clockwork Orange” is one of the films that I shall never forget not because of its “pornographic” contents but how the film conveyed its message to its viewers. For some people, this movie is hard to watch and I think this makes the film strongly effective. Such kind of reactions signifies that we don’t like what we see and such things exist in reality. This movie is very effective in conveying its message because it shows us harsh realities and whether we like it or not it really happens so we have no choice just to digest it while watching this film. “A Clockwork Orange” really is legendary not only because it is very first movie to use the Dolby Sound System but also because of its effectiveness and boldness in conveying different moral and political issues that exist in our society.


Ina_Partosa said...


When does a man stop becoming a man? Can you stop a person's humanity by simply taking away his free will? Can a person still be considered good even if his actions are a result of a mere experiment? These are the questions that arise from Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film entitled "A Clockwork Orange".

The central theme of the movie lies on the debate between the definition of goodness and importance of free will. Alex DeLarge (Malcolms McDowell), one of the weirdest character to ever grace the big screen, was forced to act a certain way after undergoing the Ludovico Technique. Being once a hooligan, he was immediately transformed and rehabilitated in a facility after being made to watch violent films about Nazi Germany while Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is playing in the background.

The film raises the moral issues regarding scientific experiments, how it entirly alters humanity and how it adversely affects the subject of the study. It was a slight commentary emphasizing that even with the purest intention of transforming someone to be good and beneficial to society, it does not justify the alteration of our bare existence. Moreover, it emphasizes that too much of a good thing will eventually turnout to be bad.

Alex's attempt to suicide while he was locked in the room with the Ninth Symphony playing in the background is a manifestation of how imbalance creates chaos and anomie in society. In my opinion, the movie effectively showed how harmful experiences can be and how ambitious all humans have become by trying to change 'what is" with "what should be" at the expense of someone's life. Ethics and morality are two of the things that it tries to go against. It defies the norms by showing extreme and harsh techniques that are simply unacceptable, inhumane and repulsive. It is like an alternate reality where social standards do not exist, where everyone can do what they want and the powerful can control the weak.

On the technical aspect, Kubrick did a great job especially in the sequencing of events. It may be a little confusing at times, especially with the British accent of the actors but it was a strong and effective conveyor of the message it wanted to put across the viewers. The acting was great because the viewer can actually feel the characters' pains like for example Alex's Ludovico "treatment" where Alex was not allowed to close his eyes.

Ina_Partosa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ina_Partosa said...


What I particularly like about the film was how Kubrick was able to merge "good" and "evil" in one character. At the beginning, we can clearly see hiw Alex and his bunch of "droogs" were able to represent the purest evil that ever existed; they were nothing but pure vermins, the scums of the earth. After the technique however, Alex represented the goodest of all thing although he did it only because of the effects and pains that violence, carnal pleasure and the Ninth Symphony caused him. It does not tell us though which one is better but the extreme positions of both sides of this spectrum prod us that striking a balance is needed, always, to keep us sane and human.

The film was pretty disturbing, that is a fact. For all the possible reasons, it will really make an impression on you. One may not like it but it surely is one of the most unforgettable this semester.


Anonymous said...

Part I

A Clockwork Orange (1971) examined through an analysis of the dialectical relationship between film (as part of the superstructure) and its social milieu and literary environment (as base) reveals several layers/filters in the production of the film. More precisely, as the film presents itself as a reaction to, rather than a reflection of, a particular social reality, an examination of the film should account for authorial ideology or the agency of those who conceptualized both the film and the novel (auteurship). In this case we see three layers in the production of the film: the social context, the novel as a reaction to the social context, and then the film, as adopted from the novel. This formulation attempts to trace the disparity (or similarity) in terms of political content between the film and the novel.

The 1962 novel was argued to be written as a consequence of Burgess’ visit to Leningrad in 1961. The state-regulated Soviet Union was, at this time, “ahead of the United States.” It was in reaction to the communist ideal, which Burgess regarded as flawed in that “it shifts moral responsibility from the individual to the state” effectively disregarding individual welfare. The development of the main character can also be attributed to the Burgess’ encounter the stilyagi, bizarrely dressed gangs of Russian teenagers, pounding on the door of a restaurant.

The novel, however, is to be understood beyond this Orwellian warning. With a tendency towards anarchy, Burgess, as has been pointed out, also detested the British welfare state and the American popular culture arguing that such systems foster “homogeneity, passivity, and apathy.” He went on to say that American law enforcement is “hopelessly corrupt and violent,” “an alternative criminal body.” Further, the novel is a reaction to the behaviourist movement in the 1950s and 1960s which subjected people to dehumanized scientific experiments with hopes to alter human behaviour.

Burgess, in 1985, maintained: “The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate...The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about...I should not have written the book because of this danger of misinterpretation...” The film, however, constitutes minimal alterations on the novel. Further, the film seems to take the same political stances as the novel. In fact, Burgess claimed that he and Kubrick shared similar political and philosophical views.

Later reactions of Burgess, however, reveal his reservations regarding the film. The author particularly reacted on the novel becoming a “raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence.” It is with this point that we are able to observe differences in the film and the novel. Though attributed to the American publisher, the deletion (exclusion) of the last chapter, that of redemption, in the film says a lot about the views of the two auteurs on human nature.

Anonymous said...

Burgess regarded the last chapter, the 21st, to be a “milestone of human maturation.” Kubrick, however, saw this as unrealistic. He argues thus:

Man isn't a noble savage, he's an ignoble savage. He is irrational, brutal, weak, silly, unable to be objective about anything where his own interests are involved...I'm interested in the brutal and violent nature of man because it's a true picture of him. And any attempt to create social institutions on a false view of the nature of man is probably doomed to failure.

He further refutes Rousseau’s “romantic fallacy” contending that such illusion places “a flattering gauze between ourselves and reality” leading to despair. The ultraviolence in the film lures us to label Alex as “evil, barbaric, inhuman, psychopathic...” which allows us to separate ourselves from the reality presented on the screen, rejecting our capacity to do the same thing. This Kubrick points out through visual impressions, as Ebert observes, by placing Alex in the center of a wide angle shot, distorting everything except Alex, “and only Alex is normal.”

In the end, however, we come to realize the humanist ideal, that of free will. Although Kubrick argues that to restrain human nature is not to redeem it, the question becomes, will we succumb to our mystified human nature or go beyond such conceptions and control our destiny?


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