1. I chose to research the evil portrayed in the film “A Clockwork Orange,” directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. The screenplay for the movie was also written by Kubrick, though he based his screenplay very closely on a novel by the same name written by Anthony Burgess in 1962. 2. The research question was to define how Kubrick uses three main elements: the cinematography used to create a unique and violent backdrop, the casual nature of the characters, and the classical score playing in the background throughout the movie to depict an evil of nearly unfathomable proportions.
In fact, the evil is depicted almost harmlessly, almost as a parody of a violent play being acted out upon a stage. But an audience can sense more from the cinematography, characters, and classical score—much more. And, it is just as Kubrick said: an audience knows subconsciously that something is dreadfully wrong. And it is through these three elements that Kubrick transforms Burgess’s work into one of true violence; making it, perhaps, the most disturbing film of all time. 3. The thesis was founded on three elements: the cinematography within the film, the casual nature of the characters, and the classical music playing throughout.
For the cinematography of the film, a look was taken, first, at the beginning of the movie. When the movie begins, an audience meets Alex and his buddies who happen to be drinking milk laced with drugs while sitting in a white room filled with white, porn-style mannequins bent in contorted sexual positions. Everything is white, and even the outfits that Alex and his buddies are wearing are entirely white, complete with white jock straps, clasped, to the outside of their clothing.
It would be serene, much like a scene from Heaven, were it not for the mannequins, clothing, and sense of impending doom set simply and profoundly, from this one shot alone. It is this scene that establishes “A Clockwork Orange” as a film where the audience knows, instinctively, before a word is even uttered from the characters, that something is about to go horribly wrong. For the casual nature of the characters, I studied the scene in which Alex meets two women at a record store who are sucking, in an unmentionable style upon anatomy-shaped popsicles.
Inevitably, they end up naked in his bed with him in super-fast motion. Never has a sex scene with three people been filmed so casually, with even the act of nudity itself hardly being noteworthy at all. This scene is clearly not about sex, not even remotely. It is an opportunity for Kubrick to demonstrate the casual, “mechanical” nature behind Alex’s existence. And finally, a look was taken into the classical score of the movie. The classical music is used as an object within the film itself, serving as the only non-violent entertainment in Alex’s life.
When he returns home from a rough day of raping women, he lays in bed and listens to Beethoven. When he and his gang are out committing vile deeds, they are often doing so while gleefully belting out songs like “Singing in the Rain. ” In fact, if an audience could not see the action of the film, one might think it a classical musical based on famous overtures—until that classical music is used in a form of aversion therapy to cure Alex of his violent ways. But otherwise, a violent film would not even be considered. 4. The sources were easy to find, in fact it was difficult to narrow them down to just a few.
Stanley Kubrick was well-known and respected within the film industry and there are at least a dozen books documenting and critiquing his life and films. Of the most useful were the sources that focused primarily on “A Clockwork Orange,” specifically, because they helped in focusing the analysis and pinpointing the best arguments for the thesis. 5. “A Clockwork Orange,” is of course, just a film. Some may not find it in the least bit evil—and that is perhaps the main defining argument. A friend of mine watched this film and thought it hilarious, like a parody, comparing it to “Monty Python.
” Now, of course, “Monty Python” does have its violent moments, but these moments are made to be funny. For example, when the soldier is cut to pieces, he wails that it is “just a flesh wound,” and nothing serious, even though he no longer has any limbs. In this, the audience is very clear that this act of violence is meant to be funny. In fact, not laughing would seem weird. But the violence in Kubrick is very different, and that’s what makes it insidious. Every aspect of the film is dedicated towards infecting the audience with an undeniable “something is very wrong, here,” kind of feeling.
From the causal way in which the characters do violence to the classical music that plays throughout in the background, all are done deliberately to demonstrate that the characters do not know right from wrong, in fact, they do not even know that there is a choice to be made—and that is what makes this movie distinctively violent. 6. If I had more time, I would like to do a deeper comparison of the movie “A Clockwork Orange” to its book counterpart by Anthony Burgess. The way in which Kubrick transcribed the book to film might lend a unique understanding that hasn’t yet been reached with this project.
Further, a study into other violent films and what makes them violent might make an interesting comparison. Nearly all violent movies have a set formula: easy to spot bad guy, scantily clad virgin running in the dark alley, and scary music urging the killer on. Kubrick’s film has none of these elements and is perhaps just as violent, at least emotionally, for a viewer. Comparing Kubrick’s formula to other movies would make a remarkable study. 7. Pursuing this in the future would be interesting. In writing this, the project became more than a simple research paper.
Looking behind the scenes and into what makes a movie tick has had a profound effect on how I watch movies now. Now, I listen to the background music to see how it changes and affects the emotions I’m feeling. Now, I look more closely at the actions of the characters to not only see how they are interacting within their world, but to determine what those actions might mean outside of the moment they are in. So much can be said about the tiny aspects of film that most viewers overlook—and indeed, I did as well, until I began this study. Works Consulted.
A Clockwork Orange. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Perf. Malcolm McDowell and Michael Bates. Warner Brothers, 1971. Falsetto, Mario. Stanley Kubrick: A Narrative and Stylistic Analysis. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2001. Hughes, David. The Complete Kubrick. London: Virgin Publishing, 2001. Kagan, Norman. The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick. New York: The Continuum Publishing CO, 1989. Phillips, Gene, ed. Stanley Kubrick Interviews. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2001. Rasmussen, Randy. Stanley Kubrick: Seven Films Analyzed. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & CO, Publishers, 2001.
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