A Clockwork Orange - what's so great?

So I just saw A Clockwork Orange for the first time, and I gotta ask, why is this movie considered such a classic?

I thought the plot was a bit muddled and obvious, the futuristic lingo was irritating rather than fascinating, and many of the “neat” ideas (a milk bar?) were just silly. (Part of that is probably seeing a vision of the future FROM the future, compared to when the movie was made). Compare it to something like Children of Men, and I don’t even think it’s close to as good.
Is this a case of “it was new and revolutionary at the time, but now it’s grown mundane”?

A Clockwork Orange is satire–more comparable to *Brazil * than Children of Men.

I disliked A Clockwork Orange as well; in fact I got so bored I walked out about half way through. (Thirty years earlier my mother walked out of the theatre because it was too violent; that shows you have our society’s morals have changed over the years.) I have two possible explanations for its popularity. Either some people worship anything that Kubrick made–understandable considering how good some of his other movies were–or it succeeded because of the unflinching look at violence and all the sex imagery, since some people appear to believe that anything with shock value is a good work of art.

It succeeded because it’s got a wicked sense of humor.

Try the book. The fictitious dialect makes more sense (to me) when in a greater level of immersion than you get with the film. The amateur-philosopher introspective element of Alex’s narrative is more interesting. The sheer glee and delight in violence comes across more strongly. The torture to which he was subjected is evoked more powerfully.

Much of the film’s reputation comes from the controversy it caused when first released. I still like it, though.

And the milk bar isn’t just that, because the moloko is full of drugs.

For a start, visually, it was groundbreaking. And the message – that violence was a necessary part of being human – was an interesting take on the issue, especially in the late 60s. You also had a charming and likable monster in Alex, which was far from the movie lead at the time; bad guys were bad and we didn’t feel sympathy for them.

The violence may seem tame now, but in 1971 it was as over the top as **Saw II **is today. Maybe more so, since it was so unusual.

And the juxtaposition of sex, violence, and humor was unique at the time. As a friend of mine said at the time, she couldn’t stand the violence (which was much more shocking back then compared to now), but any movie that ends with Gene Kelly singing “Singin’ in the Rain” can’t be all bad.

Agree with GorillaMan. It’s the book, not the movie, that’s a classic.

The importance of the movie lies in the way it rases the question of which is worse - gleeful thuggery, or the government’s use of the power to control that thuggery?

Add to that the innovative visuals and soundtrack.

It’s a comedy. People seem to miss that.

How do you figure?

I agree, the movie is more about the necessity of free will to be human.

BTW, the slang is not complete gibberish. It is clearly based on russian. “Droogs” is very close to the russian for freinds, “moloko” is russian for milk, etc.

I’ve never read the book, and the movie came out four years before I was born, but I still think this is one of the greatest movies ever made. Just in terms of raw film making talent, this movie by itself shows that Kubrick was all but unparalleled as a director. The cinematography in the scene where Alex attacks his three friends because they’ve started questioning his leadership is astounding. Visually, the whole thing holds up fine, with some minor allowances being made for the fact that its vision of the future was filtered by the aesthetics of the early 1970s. But that’s true of any movie that attempts to guess what the future will look like. In terms of story, theme, and characterization, I think it holds up against any modern film. The questions it raises about free will, human violence, and the conflict between social good and individual freedom are as valid today as they were thirty (or three hundred) years ago.

I’m going to have to watch this again when I get home tonight.

It is one of those “you had to be there” kinda things. If I show you a urinal and tell you it is art, you will look at me like I am either stupid or calling you stupid. It made a shock in its time just like “Clockwork Orange” did. Watching it now for the first time without taking in consideration when it came out is certain to leave you as unimpressed as it did.

…and also meant to suggest “drugs,” just as the Russian “khorosho” (good) is punned into the highly appropriate “horrorshow.” Burgess was a real virtuoso with language. (I loved the part in one of the Enderby books where he constructed a grammatically correct English sentence that contained the word “onions” three times in a row–and then did it again later in the book.)

The dirty rough future was a shock. Things like the naked girl bar tables were quite odd.
Killing someone with a giant abstract penis statue was unique.
Ruffians singing in the rain while committing mayhem was new.

The part about penal reform by aversion therapy didn’t seem to fit when I first saw it, but then later I realized that was the actual theme of the movie, how psychology fails us.

Yet Kubrick all but disowned it IIRC.

I liked it.

Going from the Wikipedia, I don’t think he disowned it–he just didn’t feel like dealing with angry zealots over the ultra-violence, so disappeared off into the hills and left it to fend for itself.

But anyways, the good part about the movie is that it has an interesting story with an interesting look at dealing with violence and how far our rights go towards preventing it.

Perhaps because it is not, in fact, funny? That’ll muddy up a comedy for sure.

It’s a poor film, stylistically well made, but morally and intellectually muddled. Take away the old ultra-violence and the brilliant imagery and you got nothin’.



Maybe not if your definition of “funny” is “contains jokes.” The dark, sardonic humor is pervasive.

It’s a brilliant film, and the moral stance concerning free will and its relationship to the nature of goodness and evil is quite clear. I don’t even know what you mean by “intellectually muddled.”