A Clockwork Orange (1972)

Genre: Crime, Sci-Fi, Drama

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Writers: Stanley Kubrick, Anthony Burgess (novel)

Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates

Rating: ★★★★★

A film from one of my favourite directors, and one of the best directors to ever embrace the cinematic world, A Clockwork Orange challenged audiences to question the need for violence in life and wowed Academy’s as it picked up a string of awards including Best Picture and Best Director.  Previously being withheld from millions, once viewed it is obvious to see the brilliance behind a film which although has an unconventional storyline, holds cinema-changing craftsmanship.

Alex is a young boy, a member of a futuristic Britain, a much changed world. His main interests are ultra-violence, rape and Ludwig Van Beethoven of course. Rolling about with his three “droogs” Pete, Georgie and Dim he adventures on another night of mugging and raping, but when he faces a challenging woman after breaking into her house, he is arrested for murder and is imprisoned. Once inside he soon learns his life will be nothing but following orders and ending each sentence with “Sir”, but when hearing about a new experiment which could reduce his sentence he volunteers himself. The study attempts to brainwash convicts into detesting any form of violence, and once completed Alex is released into the mean streets he once created and ruled; his morals may have forcibly changed but others haven’t.

A Clockwork Orange is a rollercoaster of a film, with excitement and action in every sequence, something that Kubrick delivers excellently. The scenes of violence and rape are not as shocking as some explain, however what is problematic is how as an audience we are encouraged to side with Alex, and therefore break the rules in the film’s society as well as our own. Kubrick seems to question the need for violence in society, what you take from the film is down to your own mind-set and outlooks; however A Clockwork Orange is known as a film which seems to question individual’s morals and beliefs, making it somewhat unique.

The film is witty, and clever with the dialogue something I find brilliant. It makes the film fun, although it shouldn’t be given the plot, I find it really is. The futuristic world created is likewise the same, and both together seem to create interest and awe.

The acting is something which should be credited and for me Malcolm McDowell’s portrayal as Alex is fantastic and is one of my favourite. The deliverance of every line and syllable creates emotion, and every step and movement seems to be natural and exciting. Kubrick’s direction throughout really shows to full extent his talents, and why his breakthrough in cinema was so influential. The range of shots, the selection of shots and certain scenes are great. The way the camera pans in Mr and Mrs Alexander’s house was innovative whilst the close ups on Alex’s eyes in the testing scenes are rather disturbing, and that’s surprising considering the film itself.

The soundtrack is an interesting choice, the mixture of “Ol’ Ludwig Van” with violence summarises A Clockwork Orange perfectly, something with so much craft, making an unconventional masterpiece. However my favourite would be Singin’ in the Rain along with its inclusion within the film and certain scenes, in the mugging and rape scene as Alex starts to beat Mr Alexander it is clever and fun, a real highlight in the film. It’s a moment that you seem to find hard to remove from ya Gulliver!

A Clockwork Orange is a classic and a film which is part of history, another piece added by the fantastic Stanley Kubrick. Its unconventional, but that’s it likability, its unique, fun and exciting but at the same time it can shock its audience and eventually leave them with a few questions. I can’t find fault in Kubrick’s creation, maybe due to its uniqueness there is not much you can compare with, however every element seems to work and the end product is nothing short from flawless.

 

 

Hidden References in Eli Roth’s Hostel (2005)

Eli Roth wanted to make a big claim to the cinematic community with his 2005 release of Hostel; he wanted to make it known that he is an expert of his genre, a well-knowledge film-maker and an admirer of the all time classics. Hostel very much entertained the typical zeitgeist audience when released with its mass gore and special effects, but for the cineastes and genre fans he played homage to many films and included references to others keeping them occupied and a part of an “in-joke”.

The master that is Quentin Tarantino presented and produced Hostel and his name appearing on the opening credits wasn’t his only involvement within the film. As the three backpackers check into their new Slovak hostel in the background Samuel L Jackson’s iconic speech from Pulp Fiction is being played on the TV. It is also suggested how our antagonists stalked the halls of the slaughter house whistling could be a link to Tarantino’s Kill Bill.

Eli Roth also referenced the Kubrick and horror classic, The Shining. The boys are given room 237 which is the same hotel room which is forbidden in The Shining, something which is obviously not a coincidence. Alongside one classic is another as the film uses the same score from Hitchcock’s Psycho. The closing credits to Hostel plays homage to the opening credits of Psycho using the same style score but slightly giving it a modern twist.

Wanting to state his knowledge and ability to recognise his background, Roth referenced two very small but classic British horror films. The sex scene between Josh and the Slovak roommate is a direct link to the sex scene within The Wicker Man 1973 as our priest gets seduced through a wall by a form of witchcraft. It is referenced by the iconic music played over the top. Film of the same year, Don’t Look Now 1973 is also referenced clearly, the final scene in Don’t Look Now sees our protagonist chase a figure in a red coat, in Hostel Josh and Paxton looking for Oli start to chase a guy wearing the same Orange coat, the two scenes follow the same structure and even have similar settings.

Eli Roth also chooses to have many cameo’s including himself. In a bar scene at the beginning of Hostel, Eli Roth can be seen smoking and smashing a bong whilst laughing. Japanese director Takashi Miike also plays a role as the guy who Paxton asks “what’s it in like in there” too as he stands outside the unknown slaughter house. Extending his knowledge to that of Japanese Film finally the last reference is that to Suicide Club. The end scene which sees a Japanese woman jump in front of a train is a clear homage especially to shots where we see fellow passengers sprayed with blood, it is also the only reason Roth made that very character Japanese.

Did you spot any of these references?

My Top 5: Stanley Kubrick Films

Stanley Kubrick, a man with a natural talent when it comes to writing and directing, a man who has graced Stanley Kubrick Picturethe film industry and a man that will be remembered for a very long time. Yesterday was Kubrick’s birthday where he would have turned 85, born in New York July 26th 1928 and unfortunately dying in 1999 however in those 70 years he changed the world of film forever. He was known as a perfectionist, his films being spot on executed in every sense. He has created countless classics and has achieved some of the greatest awards including an Oscar. The man responsible for not only some of my favourite films and scenes but those of others around the world. In a belated birthday post dedicated to an astonishing talent that is Stanley Kubrick here are my top five films he’s created.

#5 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Poster

#4: 2001; A Space Odyssey (1968) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Poster

 

#3: A Clockwork Orange (1971) A Clockwork Orange (1971) Poster

 

#2: Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Full Metal Jacket (1987) Poster

 #1: The Shining (1980) The Shining (1980) Poster

There’s my list of his best five films, what would you change or was I spot on?

The Shining- Here’s Stanleeeeyyy

Working Under Stanley Kubrick

The director Stanley Kubrick is known as a perfectionist in the world of film but on the set of The Shining he entered a whole new level. To reach perfection Kubrick likes to take shots over and over again but not just any shots, every shot. During the most famous scene in The Shining (1980) Jack Nicholson playing the crazed character of Jack Torrance takes an axe to a door shouting “here’s Johnnyyy”. It was reported that to achieve perfection Kubrick re-shot that scene nearly 30 times. The best bit was that Jack had training as a fireman previously and said to Stanley Kubrick to give him a real axe and to use a solid oak door to make the scene realistic as possible, unknowingly he didn’t realise he had to smash his way through 30 solid oak doors. Poor Jack Nicholson didn’t even get a nomination let alone an award, on the brighter side at least his role has been made famous by Lenny Henry in the Travel Lodge adverts.
Jack Nicholson wasn’t the only victim of Stanley Kubrick on the set of The Shining, Shelley Duvall who played Wendy Torrance, Jack’s wife had a full on breakdown. Kubrick ordered the final sequences to be re-shot over a dozen times, in the final sequences Shelley Duvall had to act scared and upset as her crazed husband hunts her down with an axe. Where she had to keep crying it was reported that crew members had to keep getting her water where she had lost so much fluid due to the tears. After a few retakes she actually had a genuine breakdown and had to take a break. Shelley Duvall took a break from being an actress after filming and no surprise too as just like Jack she didn’t even get a nomination.