A Clockwork Orange: My Most Popular Review

clockwork_orangeSometimes you write something that captures people’s imaginations and encourages them to reread it. Sometimes you cover something so popular that you cannot help but get attention for it. I seem to have hit the jackpot with both when I reviewed A Clockwork Orange for Amazon.com ten years ago.

My review has been reprinted on hundreds of websites over the last decade, from film criticism pages to blogs to college movie night announcements. Then there are those e-stores linked directly to Amazon.com that use the company’s reviews to sell product and get a small commission. Funnily enough, I don’t get any reprint fees on this review. I figure it’s good advertising for my career, but I do wonder how much extra cash I might have been able to accrue for its repeated usage. (Probably not much actually, and besides, that’s the nature of Internet. Everyone swipes from everyone else’s site.) At least my review has remained intact and been properly credited every time I have seen it reposted.

So here it is, in its full glory. You can also find the review on the film’s DVD and Blu-ray pages at Amazon.

Amazon.com essential video
Stanley Kubrick’s striking visual interpretation of Anthony Burgess’s famous novel is a masterpiece. Malcolm McDowell delivers a clever, tongue-in-cheek performance as Alex, the leader of a quartet of droogs, a vicious group of young hoodlums who spend their nights stealing cars, fighting rival gangs, breaking into people’s homes, and raping women. While other directors would simply exploit the violent elements of such a film without subtext, Kubrick maintains Burgess’s dark, satirical social commentary. We watch Alex transform from a free-roaming miscreant into a convict used in a government experiment that attempts to reform criminals through an unorthodox new medical treatment. The catch, of course, is that this therapy may be nothing better than a quick cure-all for a society plagued by rampant crime. A Clockwork Orange works on many levels — visual, social, political, and sexual — and is one of the few films that hold up under repeated viewings. Kubrick not only presents colorfully arresting images, he also stylizes the film by utilizing classical music (and Wendy Carlos’s electronic classical work) to underscore the violent scenes, which even today are disturbing in their display of sheer nihilism. Ironically, many fans of the film have missed that point, sadly being entertained by its brutality rather than being repulsed by it. –Bryan Reesman


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