A Clockwork Orange (1971) helped establish director Stanley Kubrick as one of the most innovative filmmakers of all time. For him film must be a work of art, and art exists for its own sake. The film has no goal beyond its own enjoyment. Given its subject matter—political corruption, hedonism, violence, and the elusiveness of moral certitudes—one might even go so far as to call A Clockwork Orange a nihilistic film in both form and content. This style of filmmaking would later heavily influence the “New Hollywood” directors.
The film is an adaption of Anthony Burgess' 1962 novella in which, the novel's teenage anti-hero (Alex) gives a first-person narration about his violent exploits and his experiences with state authorities intent on reforming him (Books). Additionally, the film differs greatly from the novel in that, it is far more ambiguous then the novel. The film tries to move away from, coming up with a final moral or conclusion to the story conclusion and tries to leave the story more open to interpretation. This decision for a more ambiguous ending is a very conscious decision on the part of Kubrick, who also chooses not to include the final chapter of the novel. In the final chapter of the novel Alex sees the error of his way and turns his life around. He omitted this chapter from the film not only because the American edition did not include it, but also because this ending would not work with his idea of what the film was to convey. More specifically, the film depicts nihilistic elements and does not have one central theme (save revelry in the cinematic spectacle itself) nor does the film convey any overarching moral or social lesson.
People often feel uncomfortable when there is no message in a film. They do not know what to look for or really how to relate to the film. They often leave such films with a general feeling of confusion. It is not until some reflection that one realizes that art does not need to be understood or needs to have a meaning to be powerful and to affect people. Moreover, this film causes the audience to engage with it and as I previously stated it usually makes the audience wonder what they should be thinking. In true Kubrick fashion he tries to confuse the audience and by doing so showing them that things are not as black and white as one might think. Personally this film made me reflect on my ideas of good and bad. This was in large part brought by the fact that during the first half of the film Kubrick depicts Alex as if he were the sadistic embodiment of evil and then in the latter half of the film the audience is supposed to sympathize with him.
Roger Ebert said that, “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” (Ebert). I see...