[box cover]

A Clockwork Orange

The Stanley Kubrick Collection (2001)

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Barry Lyndon
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Dr. Strangelove: Special Edition
  • Eyes Wide Shut
  • Full Metal Jacket
  • Lolita
  • The Shining
  • Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures
  • Based on the novel by Anthony Burgess, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971) tells the story of Alex (Malcolm McDowell), the leader of a band of young "droogs" who seek out rape, theft, and gang rumbles for fun. It is only when Alex is arrested for murder that he is brought under control, but not via a crisis of conscience. Instead, he unwittingly volunteers as a subject for an experimental therapy that denies him the ability to act on his violent and lustful impulses. But the question remains unresolved: Who is the more monstrous, the criminal or the authorities who re-program him? Clockwork is easily Kubrick's most controversial movie, primarily because of the "ultra-violence" that has caused many viewers to incorrectly interpret it as a film that glorifies brutality, and it also caused Kubrick a great deal of unexpected turmoil when a series of "copycat" crimes in Britain — and subsequent threats on Kubrick's family — caused the director to pull the film from U.K. theaters after little more than a year (it was not to be screened again in Britain for nearly three decades). To be certain, the violence in A Clockwork Orange is explicit, but Kubrick's intent is clear — it is also meant to be repulsive, if only to emphasize the horror of this quasi-socialist near future and the fears that lead the authorities to artificially modify criminal behavior. The fact that some younger viewers are attracted to this film because of its violent content is not only a complete misreading of Kubrick's purpose, but it's also kind of pathetic and sad. A Clockwork Orange is not a cheap thrill — it's one of the most thought-provoking philosophical inquiries ever committed to film, and its strains of dark humor have come to be a Kubrickian hallmark. Warner's June 2001 re-release of A Clockwork Orange on DVD, which replaces the June 1999 edition, features a transfer of their "2000 digital master" print, and it does offer some improvements. Of all the titles in the 1999 "Stanley Kubrick Collection," A Clockwork Orange was among the most pleasant, with an attractive source print and audio in the original mono. As such, the original is still a pretty good disc. But for those who don't have Clockwork on DVD, or want to upgrade, the new print is a tangible improvement, with barely any damage and slightly richer color, and the matted widescreen transfer (non-anamorphic) is a bit more noticeable, increasing from 1.66:1 to something closer to 1.78:1. However, the quantum leap is the audio — the brand-new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix gives the soundtrack (particularly the music) a serious boost. Beyond that, the features are identical, with the (unrestored) theatrical trailer and an "awards" supplement. Snap-case.
    —JJB



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