'A Clockwork Orange' ...
OK, so I struggled to get through the rest of Stanley Kubrick's early-'70s psychotic episode last night. I've seen bits and pieces of "A Clockwork Orange" over the years, but I've never put them in order in my head.
Now I have.
And you know what I think? I think Kurbrick must have failed a philosophy class somewhere along the line.
When I was in college, I took an intro philosophy class. I remember syllogisms. That's about it.
But then there was Senior Honors, a year of study with three professors, a program for which you had to apply and be accepted. I applied for my junior year with what I thought was a very clever one-page essay. It did the trick.
And so I took a class with an English professor with roots in philosophy, a man who clearly was used to dealing with grad students. One day, as class took a break, I mentioned to him that I was going to get something to drink and asked if I could get him anything. He seemed somewhat stymied by the question. Perhaps he was unaccustomed to basic kindness. I seem to remember him agreeing to a Sprite. Maybe it was a Coke.
What I do remember, though, was when it came time to write that quarter's paper, I had no idea what I was talking about. But based on past philosophy experiences, my own and those of my friend Brian who was double-majoring in philosophy and architecture, I proceeded to write the most convoluted paper I could craft.
(I just flipped through my college-paper folder, the few that I culled from all the files from all the classes. Not surprisingly, I didn't save the paper I wrote for Ned. It was likely relegated to a landfill long ago. Too bad. It would be entertaining to read it today.)
Anyway, watching "A Clockwork Orange" felt like writing that paper. Many have raved about its social commentary. Roger Ebert wasn't buying it. His review begins, "Stanley Kubrick's 'A Clockwork Orange' is an ideological mess, a paranoid right-wing fantasy masquerading as an Orwellian warning. It pretends to oppose the police state and forced mind control, but all it really does is celebrate the nastiness of its hero, Alex." Ebert's entire review is
Yup. Alex, with his false eyelashes, phallic prosthetic nose, and exaggerated codpiece, is quite the son of a bitch. In Alex's world, beating up drunks and raping women are ways to pass time between visits to his gang's milk-bar hangout. Of course, it's not just regular milk. And it's not dispensed in a regular way.
Eventually, all his nasty behavior catches up with him, which brings on the second half of the movie, which I didn't like any more than the first.
It felt contrived and indulgent, a way for Kubrick to flail about a lot of penises and undress a lot of women. Maybe he was trying to make some kind of statement about man's basest motivations. I think he just figured that if he made it all really weird and slapped some Beethoven over the whole mess, people would think it was genius.
The same way I tried to write the most absurd paper I could for the Senior Honors class, figuring that if it didn't really make sense, it would probably pass for philosophy.
Many hailed Kubrick's film as a masterpiece.
My professor gave me a B.