uk cinemas listings

UK Cinemas

Cinema listings with film information and movie reviews

Entertainments Search:

A Clockwork Orange

There's a great line in Michael Mann's Oscar nominated true-life drama, The Insider, spoken by 60 Minutes frontman Mike Wallace (played by scene stealer Christopher Plummer) who observes that "You get 15 minutes of fame. Infamy lasts a little longer." The infamy surrounding Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange has endured for more than 28 years: released in the UK in January 1972, nominated for four Academy Awards and two BAFTAS, winner of Best Foreign Film at the Venice Film Festival, and then sensationally withdrawn from theatrical release in this country at the director's behest after supposed links between on-screen and real life violence. In the intervening years, the picture has taken on an almost mythical status, and so this re-release one year after the death of its reclusive director can justifiably be heralded as a major cinematic event. Not least because those staunch guardians of public taste and decency - The British Board Of Film Classification - have passed the film with an 18 certificate, uncut. Kubrick accomplished the seemingly impossible with his adaptation of Anthony Burgess's dystopian fable: digesting a provocative and sometimes disturbing novel written in an invented pidgin Russian language, and regurgitating it as a visually striking and, on the whole, acsessible cautionary tale about the violence that festers beneath the deceptively placid surface of our green and pleasant land. The film follows juvenile delinquent Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his three Droog buddies - Pete (Michael Tarn), Dim (Warren Clarke) and Georgie (James Marcus) - on one of their nightly orgies of "ultra-violence" and rape which culminates in Alex murdering a middle-aged lady and being apprehended by the long arm of the law. Sent to prison to atone for a multitude of sins, Alex agrees to enrol in a controversial Government-backed scheme to rehabilitate violent offenders through so-called aversion therapy which, if successful, will curb his desires to maim and assault and gift him early release. After two weeks of treatment, Alex is deemed "cured" and returned into the welcoming arms of society where his dysfunctional parents (Philip Stone, Sheila Raynor) want nothing to do with him, old friends Dim and Pete have become police officers, and his victims are now embittered souls thirsty for revenge on the young hooligan who destroyed their lives all those years ago. Like all of Kubrick's films, A Clockwork Orange is a feast for the senses, shot with boundless energy and an impeccable eye for detail. From the opening tracking shot in the Korova Milk Bar, where Alex and his friends prepare for their fun and games over a glass of Moloko (milk), to the carefully orchestrated sequences of the Droogs on the rampage, every frame has been meticulously crafted for maximum impact. Music plays an intrinsic role in the film just as it did in Burgess's novel. Alex is obsessed with Beethoven (or as he calls him, "lovely, lovely Ludwig Van") and several key moments in the film are set to different movements from the monumental 9th Symphony. Indeed, almost every episode in Alex's misadventures has some form of musical accompaniment: a rape set to "Singin' In The Rain", a fight between two gangs choreographed to Yorkston's "Molly Malone", a riverbank stabbing replayed in slow motion to the tune of Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie". With the music, these scenes take on a hallucinogenic, dreamlike quality - like fragments of someone's unconscious flashing before the audience's eyes. McDowell, with his distinctive eye make-up and natty bowler hat, captures the coiled up rage and fiery sexuality of the film's anti-hero with gusto, narrating the action by way of a disconcertingly monotone voiceover. His transformation into model citizen at the prison is not for the squeamish: the sequences in which he is strapped down to a chair, his eyelids held open with metal clips so he cannot close his eyes, and he is then forced to watch hours of sickening film footage, are almost unbearable. The irony of the situation was not lost on Kubr