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.

 

 

Advertisements

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?

My Top 5 War Films

#5 Jarhead (2005): At number five is the film based on the award-winning, best-selling book of 2003 Jarhead by Anthony Swofford, a soldier who served in the gulf war that expresses his feelings and tells of his experiences. The adaptation is accurate as it purely focuses on the experience of one individual serving, in the film this individual is Tony Swofford played by Jake Gyllenhaal. It isn’t action packed, or heroic but realistic and cruel showing the real doings of soldiers in the war, the harshness and the impact.

Jarhead follows the story of Swofford who after training becomes a sniper and gets sent to the Gulf War, however he doesn’t even shoot his rifle. It shows them exhausted, lonely and bored as they don’t get given an opportunity to use their training. In some respect they are their own prisoners as they stand in boiling heat and oil 24 hours a day waiting and waiting.

 

This is a realistic film it doesn’t glorify war and that’s I like about it, at one point Swofford explains why he served and signed up, “I’m 20 years old and I was dumb enough to sign a contract”. The other characters in this film are not as important, Swofford befriends the scout sniper Troy (Peter Sarsgaard). The other relevant character being their Staff Sergent Sykes, (Jamie Foxx) who is the polar opposite of his unit of scout snipers, he loves his job and lives for it.

Jarhead was directed by Sam Mendes and he manages to capture the direct experiences of one person in one period time unlike most films, making it somewhat unique. Jarhead deserves my #5 on this list as its hard, real and shows the change in the individual life, not glorifying war and not making action heroes.

#4 Saving Private Ryan (1998): At number four is the incredible Saving Private Ryan, rated as the 37th best film of all time it’s not only a prestigious Great War film but an all time great in general. Graphic and gruesome as they get, and action packed but at the same time presents a real life problem, the problem of the safety of those giving orders and those carrying them out.

A group of soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) have been sent of a propaganda mission to boost morale and create good press. The mission is to find Pvt. Ryan and bring him home, what they don’t know is the danger they have been thrown into and as one of the soldiers mumbles “This Ryan better be worth it”. This film has one of the most remembered opening sequences of all time, thrown straight into gunfire men debark their ship on Omaha beach, fast paced and gruesome the sequence shows blood splattering, limbs flying and the what was once blue sea turn a violent red.

The group have to decide if they want to follow orders or do what they were trained to do after saving Pvt. Ryan (Matt Damon). The film for some will just be an entertaining action packed war film just like any other but for those who see it in the real light will realise this film shows how soldiers are risked for a publicity stunt, addressing some real issues. The thing that impresses me the most about Saving Private Ryan is the ability to create that meaning but at the same time a Great War film with thrilling scenes. The characters are also well written and the acting is outstanding, the crew is on par too with Stephen Spielberg directing and Jansuz Kaminski as cinematographer. Saving Private Ryan much deserving its place on this list, after all it did win 5 Oscars.

#3 Platoon (1986): An anti-war film that’s written and directed by a Vietnam vet, Oliver Stone. Not a film of heroics, action, fantasy or fun but a film based on memories and experiences. The story follows a character based on Stone, played by Charlie Sheen, he a young soldier who volunteers for the war but upon arrival he gets told he doesn’t belong there and he’s an outcast. A film that shows the conflict within a platoon as well as the conflict with the enemy you came to fight.

The directing of this film is amazing, there’s no clear plot either making it unexpected just how Stone would have felt. There’s no clear shot of enemies and everything is rushed and disoriented. It’s a Vietnam film, the most popular topic for Americans in the last half century. It shows the impact on the soldiers, how they lost their heads as well as their lives, how they would open up and kill anyone to better them. It’s not a heroic film but a film of survival. It’s also gruesome, where most films would show action scenes to glorify war this is a film that reverses that, showing the harsh reality.

Stone eventually becomes a great soldier in the film, however not a hero and not an inspiration. Platoon doesn’t make war look fun cause war isn’t fun. It’s for me an amazing film and no surprise it’s on this list at #3, it made a huge impact on me and the world as it won 4 Oscars. It’s an exhilarating war film made even more amazing by the history and context.

 

 

#2 Full Metal Jacket (1987): Not only is this one of my favourite war films its one of my favourite films of all time. Full Metal Jacket is a film of two halves but one strong message. The first half set in the training camp where they are under the rath of the harsh mouthed Drill Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) we follow the relationship between Private Pyle and Joker (Vincent D’Onofrio, Matthew Modine). It shows how they get moulded into weapons and instruments of destruction, how their fates are decided by their actions or inaction.

 

The second half of the film dives into Vietnam, focusing on the test of Jokers psychical and mental strength in the face of death, facing his true test if he’s a killer. The film itself is brilliant, although Full Metal Jacket seems like an uncompleted film it represents one of Americas uncompleted wars. The first half sets up us with the unbearable terror and humiliation something many of us can relate to however the second half is completely new to most of us. It shows the harsh reality and the effect on the mind in some ways Full Metal Jacket is an anti-war film as much as Platoon.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick there’s no wonder its a prestigious film and its on my list. It’s camera work drives you straight into action making it believable, and Stanley Kubrick helped a mainstream movie take a bold step. It’s undoubtedly one of the most remembered war films, and is responsible for one of the most famous quotes “this is my rifle, there are many like it but this one is mine”. That quote in a way sums up this film as it focuses on how a war isn’t a nations war but an individuals.

#1 Apocalypse Now (1979): A film by Francis Ford Coppola who was the man behind the Godfathers. He was probably the only man at the time with the ability or guts to make a film like Apocalypse Now. A film surrounding the Vietnam War focuses on the character of Captain Willard who’s sent on a mission to assassinate a colonel who has lost his sanity and is viewed as god by the local tribe.

The film is open to interpretation and has no conclusions, that disappoints and upsets those who like their films obvious and straight forward. Some argue this isn’t a war film but a film of man, surrounding the war in Nam it’s very much a war film with a message that shows just how crazy things got. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) experiences all the things that sent Colonel Krutz (Marlon Brando) insane, graphic, gruesome and somewhat horrific it shows an inside to Vietnam.

 

The films number one for a few reasons, first of all the context and history surrounding the film shows just how bold Apocalypse Now is. Technically the film is faultless, from the setting, sound, editing and cinematography, finally it’s a film that leaves you with questions that you have to answer yourself, conclusions you have to make up. It won 2 Oscars and besides that is voted as one of the best films of all time. A truly one of film that concludes my top 5 and gets its deserved top spot.

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.