7. A Clockwork Orange (1972)

22 Apr
Roger’s Rating :

Should be :

Roger really missed the boat on this one. He starts his review by saying, “Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is an ideological mess, a paranoid right-wing fantasy masquerading as an Orwellian warning. It pretends to oppose the police state and forced mind control, but all it really does is celebrate the nastiness of its hero, Alex.”
I couldn’t disagree with him more. Anyone that watches that movie, and thinks that Alex is a hero must be really twisted. Although there are warnings against the Orwellian state, it certainly does not hold up Alex as someone to be admired. What makes the movie interesting is looking at the savage Alex and the State’s response to him. Is it a reasonable response? Is it over the top?
He finishes his review by saying, “In addition to the things I’ve mentioned above — things I really got mad about — A Clockwork Orange commits another, perhaps even more unforgivable, artistic sin. It is just plain talky and boring. You know there’s something wrong with a movie when the last third feels like the last half. ” Here is the link to Roger’s review.
Wow! A Clockwork Orange boring! That is one adjective I would never use in describing it..
I can understand why some people don’t like this movie. It can be viewed as being excessively violent and misogynistic. It is definitely not for all tastes. But there are wonderful things in this movie. Using violence to denounce violence doesn’t have to be gratuitous, and I definitely don’t think it is here. When you look at recent movies like The Green Street Hooligans and The Football Factory we can actually view A Clockwork Orange as being closer to reality than we would perhaps care to admit.
This movie has an 8.5 rating on IMDB and has 6 directors and critics selecting it in the Sight and Sound Poll as one of the Top Ten movies of all time. Roger only gave it 2 stars in his review.
I think if Roger watched it again, with an open mind, he would really like it. What makes it so good is that it is probably even more relevant today than when it was made.

Posted by on April 22, 2009 in Roger's Worst



10 responses to “7. A Clockwork Orange (1972)

  1. stella

    May 31, 2009 at 3:25 am

    I love this film! it’s awesome, one of the bests i ever saw!

  2. Saint Subversive

    November 2, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Ebert hates most of Kubrick’s films, in fact I dont think he liked any of them with the exception of 2001. When he complains in his Clockwork review about Kubrick filming certain scenes as if Alex is the only “normal” person in the world, he (like Kael) misses a very important aspect to that: the film is told from Alex’s POV, and of course, that is exactly how Alex sees the rest of humanity, with himself being the only “normal” one. The film makes no “moral judgement” of Alex’s repellent behavior because he is the one doing the storytelling. Ebert was completely out to lunch about this film, as he was when he reviewed Kubrick’s other masterpieces.

  3. Nicolas

    December 3, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I compeltely agree with Ebert’s review (by the way, this is the only Kubrick film he reviewed negatively). Kubrick DECIDED to tell the film from Alex’s point of view. It is impossible for a director to tell story objectively. Camera Angles, makeup, casting and set design all contribute to the DIRECTOR’s vision. And Kubrick has given us a main character (I will no use the word “hero” even though it is kind of how he is portrayed) who is violent and sadistic, but never explains WHY. Although I disagree with Burgess’ opinion on behavioural therapy, I think he succeeded in getting it across, and he also created a language on the page that could not be faithfully reproduced on the screen. What was Kubrick thinking? I still haven’t figured it out. This film has nothing to say, and all it has done is popularize the genre of “aesthetic violence.” Violence is not pretty, it is disturbing and undesirable, and should always be portrayed as such.

    • Matt

      February 8, 2010 at 10:03 am

      “Kubrick DECIDED to tell the film from Alex’s point of view.”

      Perhaps because the novel is told from Alex’s POV?
      Not much of a decision, really….

      “Although I disagree with Burgess’ opinion on behavioural therapy, I think he succeeded in getting it across”

      And what then, O my brother, dost thou believe his opinion to be? I have a feeling you missed the boat completely….

      “This film has nothing to say, and all it has done is popularize the genre of “aesthetic violence.” Violence is not pretty, it is disturbing and undesirable, and should always be portrayed as such.”

      This film has much to say little brother….a pity it seems to be beyond your comprehension…perhaps you should read the novel (with the 21st chapter included) for a better understanding of Burgess’ “beliefs” re: behavioural therapy…or perhaps watch the film again and listen to what the prison Charlie (priest) has to say on the matter. If you still think that an utter lack of free will makes one inherently good, then I pity you. Perhaps you are a Clockwork Orange, without a thought of your own in the old gulliver.

      • Booze

        January 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm

        ok brother i cant judge u for appreciating this movie.. i mean, there must obviously be sth that 99% of people who watch it adore about it, and ebert simply was one out of this hundred. the thing is, i didnt like the film either. To tell you the truth, I first read Ebert’s review, then watched the movie, and then read the book. You could call me prejudiced for not liking the film having been influenced by roger, but i have done this quite a few times and actually loved a movie he disliked. now, i actually really liked the book.. the last chapter, although one could say is predictable and for many was too cliche and disappointing, was what made the difference for me presumably. i dont think that if kubrick hadnt omitted that chapter, the movie would be a masterpiece, but at least on ideological backgrounds, the film could have been a whole lot better

    • Jerry Saravia

      September 4, 2010 at 9:08 pm

      Actually, no, Ebert also did not care for Full Metal Jacket. The review still stands for Ebert’s point of view, unless it has changed considering he gave a four star review to Natural Born Killers which, despite being a great film, is nowhere near Clockwork’s magnificence.

  4. Kushagra Pandey

    July 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Kubrick omitted last chapter when Alex regains sanity,redeems himself,he had only contempt and hatred to show for the society in this film,world is a much better place sorry but i fully agree with ebert on this..

  5. Miles_Teg

    February 26, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Ebert admits that Kubrick accomplished a faithful adaptation of Burgess’ classic dystopian novel. (BTW, I’m not sure if the 21st chapter was published anywhere at that time. It certainly wasn’t included in the U.S. printing; I read it back in the day.) Alex was “your humble narrator” in the novel and hence the film, explaining why it is presented from his POV. Duh.

    But that’s really beside the point. Ebert is supposed to be a film critic, not the Tipper Gore of the movie industry attempting to censor sex and violence (the versions HE doesn’t like) by handing out artificially bad ratings. Every once in a while Roger goes off the deep end when something rubs him the wrong way, he wets his pants like a some pre-K schoolgirl having a meltdown, and his professionalism goes right out the window. He did it recently with “Kick-Ass”, a solid 3-Star movie that he gave 1 star.

    It’s hard to find any rhyme or reason to it since he’ll fawn all over outrageously violent movies (e.g. “Natural Born Killers” as someone already pointed out) or any movie with a gay sex theme to it. I’ve come to the conclusions that his radical leftist politics has something to do with it. He’s a frustrated political blogger. The clue here was calling “A Clockwork Orange” a “right-wing fantasy”, which shows just how badly he misunderstood Burgess/Kubrick. But that was his thinking, so he felt a need to trash the film (I wonder what he would have thought if he’d actually read the book, the section in particular where Alex and his droogs invade the home of the author of “A Clockwork Orange” and read a page from his book before raping his wife? That reading, and the obvious symbolism attached to what comes later, is omitted from the movie.)

    Ebert should be critiquing the film, not sermonizing, expecially since his morals seem highly selective based on his prejudices and favorite directors/actors. It’s misleading to his readers to behave in such an unprofessional manner. If he finds certain things offensive, he certainly has the right to say so and may even owe it to his readers to warn them, for whatever it’s worth. But When Ebert starts acting like Fr. Roger, his behavior becomes unethical.

    • cinesimon

      September 29, 2011 at 4:20 am

      OOOWWW – he’s a radical leftist, is he?
      Yep, you REALLY know the guy!

  6. Harshvardhan Siddharthan

    November 13, 2011 at 8:11 am

    actually i think ebert does have a point – it is visually and artistically stunning but i think idealogically and philosophically it is a mess. From that point of view,2 stars was a fair assessment. Nowhere in your own article have you refuted Eberts point that it is an idealogical mess and unless and until you manage to do that convincingly,eberts decision stands valid.

    It doesnt matter what the people(on imdb) think or what the sight and sound critics think.

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