It’s been fifty years since Stanley Kubrick unleashed what is still one of the most controversial and talked about cult films of all time. And fifty years later we’re still very much talking about “A Clockwork Orange.” How many films from 1971 still cause us to raise a brow? Even in a world where we’ve pretty much seen everything, “A Clockwork Orange” still skirts with the line. Hell, it goes over the line, it stays there, and we never really come back from it.
In an England of the future, Alex and his “Droogs” spend their nights getting high at the Korova Milkbar before embarking on “a little of the old ultraviolence,” while jauntily warbling “Singin’ in the Rain.” After he’s jailed for bludgeoning the Cat Lady to death, Alex submits to behavior modification technique to earn his freedom; he’s conditioned to abhor violence. Returned to the world defenseless, Alex becomes the victim of his prior victims and understands what it is to be victimized.
Despite being labeled as science fiction thriller, “A Clockwork Orange” still feels so relevant to modern society. Kubrick developed such an obscene, bizarre, exploration of decadence, lawlessness, and violence that it still manages to startle. Everything is like a fever dream and Kubrick brings out the best from his entire cast, including Malcolm McDowell. As Alex DeLarge he’s despicable and disgusting. And yet we want to see how he fares, and in the end we’re never quite sure if we’re sympathetic to him, or should revel in his sheer misery after years of preying on everyone and anyone that he could.
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the surreal novel is a masterpiece to this day, and like most of Kubrick’s films, it has retained an incomparable eerie timelessness.
Warner’s Ultra HD release includes the film in 4K on UHD and also 1080p HD on an additional Blu-ray in the packaging (the same 40th Anniversary Edition released back in 2011). Some of this material first appeared on the original 2007 Blu-ray release, while the rest of it was produced for the 40th Anniversary Edition. The 4K disc itself offers only one extra which is the Audio Commentary by Malcolm McDowell and Nick Redman. The Blu-Ray includes the commentary as well as the forty three minutes Still Tickin’: The Return of Clockwork Orange, the twenty eight minutes long Great Bolshy Yarblockos! Making A Clockwork Orange, the twenty six minutes Turning Like Clockwork, the ten minutes Malcolm McDowell Looks Back, and finally the SD trailer for “A Clockwork Orange.”