Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom/USA, 1971. Warner Bros., Hawk Films. Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel by Anthony Burgess. Cinematography by John Alcott. Produced by Stanley Kubrick. Music by Wendy Carlos. Production Design by John Barry. Costume Design by Milena Canonero. Film Editing by Bill Butler. Academy Awards 1971. Golden Globe Awards 1971. New York Film Critics Awards 1971
Thoroughly disturbing but intelligent and satisfying adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s novel. Malcolm McDowell is excellent as the leader of a group of thugs who beat up harmless old men and rape women in their homes. When he is pulled in by the law and put through a violence-rehabilitation program, McDowell emerges into the modern world a vulnerable and incapable individual. Stylish within an inch of its life, it is definitely unlike anything else you’ve ever seen, deliciously indulging in both sides of the moral coin as it both celebrates terrible behaviour while judging it at the same. The loser in the end is a human society so unable to deal with its flaws that it fails all members involved in trying to eradicate its worst members; but don’t think it’s that lofty an experience as there is plenty of humour in the dialogue and visual relish in the set design to ever let it be a didactic experience. One of Stanley Kubrick’s most memorable achievements, and the second (and so far last) X-rated film to be nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture of the year (Midnight Cowboy was the first, though they’ve both been bumped down to an R rating since then).