Very few of us know A Clockwork Orange as the 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess, instead we know it as the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film adaptation. Not only did Kubrick direct this cult classic, he also wrote the adapted screenplay and produced it. There’s no doubt that Kubrick put a lot into this movie, and by now we all know the results. A Clockwork Orange is a perfect example of Kubrick’s career, highly controversial. After the cult hit 2001: A Space Odyssey, it was crucial for Kubrick to keep the audience on the edge of their seats, and what better way to do that than adapt A Clockwork Orange. There are those who would call this movie trash, and of course there are those who absolutely love it, then of course there’s everyone in between. Well A Clockwork Orange isn’t new news to me, it’s release on HD DVD already looks to impress.
The film takes place in a then futuristic England (ca. 1995) and follows the life of demented youth Alex DeLarge (Malcom McDowell, I Spy) who’s passions are Beethoven, rape, and violence. He leads a gang of thugs who share the same pleasures as him, including fights with rival gangs, beating defenseless tramps, and a violent home invasion. On another occasion while Alex should be at school he instead picks up women and takes them to bed. Eventually his gang members overthrow him and leave him knocked out at the scene of a robbery, where he is found and in turn sentenced to 14 years in prison. But after 2 years he is given the chance to be let out early if he participates in a newly formed aversion therapy technique. After time he is rendered incapable of committing violence, and returns home where everything is turned upside down. His parents have essentially replaced him, his old friends beat on him, and is incapable of fighting back. The real question at hand is, was he cured, or just made into a victim? Well if you watch the film you’re sure to make your own assumptions and interpretations of its ending.
There are two Stanley Kubrick movie’s that I really like, and the rest I really can’t stand. If you ask me, Kubrick is one of the most overrated directors ever, but when he hits the mark, he does it nicely. Obliviously A Clockwork Orange is one of those instances where everything just comes together so bizarre but yet some masterfully, you can’t help but love it. The film is teemed with controversy, morals, and themes, dissecting this movie brings me back to 12th grade biology class. I won’t bore you anymore with my analogies on the film, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you will take a lot away from it, either that or you will absolutely hate it.
If you were expecting a new master and an incredible looking transfer then you will be disappointed, however what we are given is nothing to snuff at. The visual style of A Clockwork Orange really stands out as it provides many unique images and themes. This look translates well into HD, with added depth and color making these scenes much more effective and impressive to watch. Detail can look very good in some shots, such as certain close ups on Alex’s face etc. Unfortunately the film does show its age in several shots, with some ugly softness and muted colors. The shot of Alex and Mr. Deltoid having a discussion in the pink room for instance literally flips from looking crisp and vibrant to soft and muted. These inconsistencies hold it back from looking great, but still for it age and vast improvement over the DVD version, A Clockwork Orange’s video presentation warrants a look by fans, as this is the best the film has ever looked.
Warner Brothers has included both a 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus and TrueHD track with this release. The two tracks sound identical which is disappointing because TrueHD usually sounds noticeable better than a standard 5.1 Dolby track. The soundtrack consists of many Beethoven songs, all of which sounds great coming through the front and rear channels. Dialogue sounds good, but can sound a bit muffled at times. Unfortunately the music track can overpower the dialogue in several scenes, making it very hard to hear certain scenes.
It is disappointing that the TrueHD track didn’t provide a vast improvement over the Dolby, but the track still sounds good and should be enjoyed by anyone who watches it.
This two disc release comes full of special all of which should be seen by fans of the film. Unfortunately if you already own the 2 disc DVD version then you will not find anything new here.
- Audio Commentary – Commentary by Actor Malcolm McDowell and Historian Nick Redman
- Channel Four Documentary Still Tickin – (00:43:37) A talk with different actor, directors and writers who discuss when they first saw A Clockwork Orange and how they felt about it. I found it very interesting how many people did not see the film due to being banned by many theatres.
- Making of A Clockwork Orange – (00:28:15) A fairly in depth look on the creation of A Clockwork Orange with interviews with Director Steven Spielberg, Author David Hughes, and many others. This feature is very interesting, and definitely worth checking out.
- Career Profile O Lucky Malcolm – (01:26:05) A very in depth profile on Actor Malcolm McDowell. If you are a fan of the actor then this is a much watch as it provides a vast look at the actors career, including interviews with friends and fellow actors.
A Clockwork Orange probably has more people who completely hated it than completely loved it, but everyone who likes this movie likes it a lot. Well it isn’t going to keep you on the edge of your seat, it offers up a unique experience, something very different than you’re used to. It even makes you think a bit, and now with it being released on HD DVD it will never look or sound better. So if you like the movie jump on this release, and if you haven’t seen it yet I suggest renting it first, because this one is disturbing and even very hate able.