Stanley Kubrick released A Clockwork Orange in 1971. Its setting is the near future London. It was originally given an X rating for full frontal nudity. It would undoubtedly be rated NC-17 if re-released. This movie is not for everyone. It’s a very disturbing film, but also “a very important work of art”! Early on, a beautiful woman (Adrienne Corri) is brutalized during a home invasion. “She was very badly raped, you see! Assaulted by Alex (Malcolm McDowell) & his droogs – a gang of vicious, young hoodlums – in her seemingly safe HOME in the suburbs! It may have well have been in this very room you are sitting in now! SHE’S THE VICTIM OF A DYSTOPIAN AGE! Poor, poor girl!” Alex & his droogies – Dim (Warren Clarke), Georgie (James Marcus) and Pete (Michael Tarn) – are teenagers who have their own slang. The sadistic thugs think “ultra-violence” & forcing girls to have “the old in-out” is real “horrorshow”. But Alex’s probation officer, Mr. Deltoid (Aubrey Morris), keeps a keen eye on his goings-on. His next transgression is going to land him in prison, a failure that Deltoid does not want to see occur.
The most common question is: Why the title? What exactly is A Clockwork Orange? Well, Stanley’s screenplay was adapted from the famous book by Anthony Burgess. Burgess lived for a few years in the Southeastern Asian country of Malaya. The Malay [Muh-lay`] word for man is ‘orang’ [Orr`-ahng], as in orangutan which means forest man. Orangutans are native to Southeast Asia only. So a clockwork orang, or A Clockwork Orange, is clockwork or mechanized man. Alex is, from the start & progressively throughout the picture becomes more & more of, A Clockwork Orange.
The film was nominated for 4 Oscars in 1972 at the 44th Academy Awards, winning none: Best Picture; Director; Adapted Screenplay; and Editing. Clockwork’s Film Editor, Bill Butler, received that nomination. The other 3 went to Kubrick as Producer, Director & Screenplay Writer: Yes, A Clockwork Orange was very much Stanley’s baby. But what I want to call your attention to in this film is an aspect for which it was not recognized with an Oscar nomination: Production Design. Until recently, the category was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences with the Art Direction Oscar. That Award no longer exists. It was replaced this year with Production Design. The Production Designer, or P.D., of a movie is the head of the Art Department, whose chief reports are the Art Director and Set Decorator. The first film with a P.D. was Victor Fleming’s Gone With the Wind: William Cameron Menzies held the position & gave himself that title. The P.D. is responsible for all the visual elements of a film that do not involve acting; including the creation of the sets, mood, lighting & realization of on-location settings. In the very first scene of A Clockwork Orange, Production Designer John Barry (who won Oscar for Art Direction as P.D. of Star Wars) sets the tone of the piece. We find droogies in the Korova Milk Bar, with its dark gray & white motif, getting wasted on milk-plus before a night of ultra-violence despite their ages. The milk dispensers & tables are statues of completely naked young women, all white but for their head & pubic hair. The Production Designer, in this case John Barry, tells the story for our eyes to see. And what a disturbingly violent story it is! The trailer below gives a taste of the ultra-violence that will ensue when go to Amazon.com & buy a copy. You may as well just do it right now. Once you borrow it from the library, you’ll want to keep it. 4 Stars!