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A Clockwork Orange(1971)
Stanley Kubrick's dystopian masterpiece is set in the near future where urban thugs run wild and new methods of crime deterrence are being explored. Career gang member Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is nabbed by the police and offered the chance to a commuted sentence if he undergoes a kind of surgical therapy. One where his brain does not allow him to execute his violent urges.
For more about A Clockwork Orange and the A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray release, see A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on November 12, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Adrienne Corri, Warren Clarke, Aubrey Morris
Director: Stanley Kubrick
» See full cast & crew
A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray Review
Beethoven and Ultra-Violence in Uncompressed PCM and 1080p.
Reviewed by Ben Williams, November 12, 2007
Freaking out audiences since 1971, A Clockwork Orange is truly one of the most bizarrely entertaining yet disturbing films ever made. The film was the target of riots in the UK in response to teens carrying out a series of copycat crimes that aped the behavior of the characters in the film. Even the original author of the book, Anthony Burgess, has gone on record both as hating the film and as praising it as a work of absolute genius. Personally, I have friends who loathe every frame, while others adore the film. What is it about this film that inspires such extreme reactions? Whatever the reasons, you'll either love this film or hate it, but whatever the opinion, it's sure to be a strong one.
Alex de Large (Malcolm McDowell) has a few loves in life. Chief among them: rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven. He and his band of "droogs," don their freakish, white costumes and masks and tear through London terrorizing anyone who is unfortunate enough to get in their way. Calming their nerves with drug infused milk, these teenage terrorists answer to no one and fear nothing. As Alex's violent ways alienate everyone in his life, he will find himself in the hands of government scientists, who think they might have a cure for his temperament.
A Clockwork Orange is a cinematic masterpiece and is my personal favorite of Stanley Kubrick's films. The film is a master-class in manipulation. Kubrick tells a very straight-forward story, for the first half of the film, that to the casual observer might come across as gratuitous sensationalism. There are more than a few very unpleasant scenes and the viewer has no choice but to be completely disgusted by Alex and his actions. Unlike a film along the lines of Hollow Man that plays on similar themes purely for the sake of titillation, A Clockwork Orange uses its brutality to make a very important point. Where the film finds its stroke of brilliance, is in Kubrick's masterful way of showing us how horrible Alex is, and then making us feel sorry for him. If the viewer can truly pity a monster like Alex, then Kubrick has pulled off the greatest of cinematic tricks. I'll leave it up to you as to whether Kubrick succeeds in this, but I challenge each and every one of you to not be taken in by Kubrick's steady hand and ingenious plotting. Visually, the film is simply a treat for the eyes where each and every shot is a work of art. Very few filmmakers have mastered every aspect of the art of film. In my humble opinion, Kubrick was one of the few who could claim this title. A Clockwork Orange is a must-own title on Blu-ray.
A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray, Video Quality
A Clockwork Orange is going to always be a controversial film in high definition circles for its very specific and rough visual style. The film came about at a time when Kubrick had started experimenting with higher speed film stock as well as custom lenses and cameras. His fascination for filming in available light also began at this time. Combining all of these methods doesn't exactly make for the smoothest and "prettiest" visual quality and that is definitely reflected in this Blu-ray presentation. The film is framed at 1.66:1, so you will experience black bars on the sides of your high definition image. This is intentional, so please don't adjust your set. I've seen complaints that this title doesn't offer an appreciable upgrade from the standard DVD versions that have been presented over the years. This couldn't be further from the truth. The film's vivid and stark colors are vastly improved over previous DVD versions and are now more nicely saturated and natural. The slow-motion high-speed photography that appears in several scenes is also much improved with an increase in clarity and stability. There is quite a lot of grain in the film, which is to be expected given the filming methods employed in A Clockwork Orange. I found that overall detail is improved with an emphasis on revealing more of the film's natural grain structure. A film like A Clockwork Orange isn't supposed to look like 2001. This is a work of art and the Blu-ray version captures it beautifully. Unfortunately, there are a few areas of concern in this transfer. I noticed several bits of what appeared to be macroblocking during the film. Banding also reared its ugly head on a few occasions as well. There's really no excuse for allowing these kinds of issues to crop up on a film of this level of importance. Perhaps a little more bandwidth could have been spared for the film to prevent these issues from cropping up. Regardless, this is still a nice transfer with plenty of merit.
A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Stanley Kubrick wasn't particularly fond of going to extremes in his sound mixes and often mixed in mono. A Clockwork Orange has been remixed into a fairly pleasing 5.1 Uncompressed PCM track. Surround usage is light and the entire track is heavily front-loaded. What is impressive about this mix is the nice boost in clarity presented in the PCM mix. Wendy Carlos' wonderful, electronic score has never sounded better and her use of the moog synthesizer is as clean and clear as I've ever heard it. Dialogue also fares well with a definitive lack of any hissing or dropouts. For a film as old and as limited in its sound design as A Clockwork Orange, I thought the PCM track was a very nice upgrade over previous versions. As long as you aren't looking for a hyped up, explosion-fest, A Clockwork Orange is very pleasing. I really don't know how the film could sound any better, all things considered.
A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's What's Included:
-Commentary by Malcolm McDowell and Film Historian Nick Redman
-"Still Tickin': The Return of A Clockwork Orange"
-Great Bolshy Yarblockos: The Making of A Clockwork Orange"
-"O Lucky Malcolm"
I'm not sure how much behind the scenes material exists for a film like A Clockwork Orange, but Warner has done a nice job of assembling a few never-before-seen features of this Blu-ray release. First up, is the outstanding Malcolm McDowell and Nick Redman commentary. McDowell shares quite a few wonderful tidbits on the production of the film and Redman adds a nice bit of historical perspective. "Still Tickin'" and "Great Bolshy Yarblockos" dive into the production of the film and specifically into Kubrick's own views on humanity. "O Lucky Malcom" is a very lengthy feature-length documentary covering the career of Mr. McDowell. The special treat of the set, of course, is the HD version of A Clockwork Orange's original theatrical trailer. All in all, this is a competent set of extras!
A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A Clockwork Orange ranks as one of Stanley Kubrick's great masterpieces. The film is shocking and is sure to disturb more sensitive viewers. This is, without a doubt, not a film for younger viewers. Instead, this is a mature and intense work of art that does a masterful job of manipulating the audience into following Mr. Kubrick's every cinematic whim. I admire the film for many reasons, but its emphasis on story, music, phenomenal acting and haunting visuals has always earned the film a place high on my list of favorites. This Blu-ray edition takes extremely challenging material, both visually and aurally, and delivers as accurate a product as could be hoped for. While not as in-depth as I would have liked, the supplements are also well assembled and are sure to please fans of the film. Like most of the Kubrick library of films, A Clockwork Orange is a must own title on Blu-ray and is highly recommended.
A Clockwork Orange: Other Editions
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