This article traces the MPAA’s classification of R, X, and NC-17 films. This relates to Stanley Kubrick’s decisions to cut scenes from A Clockwork Orange in order to get an R rating. Sandler argues that Hollywood created the X rating for maximum profitability and freedom of expression only to later avoid it because of its association with pornography and therefore condemnation. The MPAA didn’t copyright the X rating, enabling distributors to self-impose X on unrespectable films. Initially, Hollywood used the sexual connotation of the rating to sell films. The successes didn’t last long. Through editing films to get an R rating, the major studios helped to confirm the end of X rated production…until Showgirls in 1995, which then proved that adult only ratings were to be avoided. The article lists statistics showing the drop off of X rated films and also tells us which studios refused to make them. He also explains the evolution of trailer ratings. The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) refused X films while pornographers picked them up. We learn of the court cases that defined obscenity and of Hollywood’s fear of losing control of censorship. In 1990, NC-17 was copyrighted and served as a marker between X and R. Due to criticism on freedom of expression, the MPAA hoped to get films out that weren’t thought of as strictly porn. Of course, critics of the new rating said they were just renaming smut. Still, the major studios did not release NC-17 films, causing others to think of them as unmarketable. Also, NATO took a stand against NC-17 by including it with X. We learn that video retailers avoided them, also, which was important to revenue. Sandler then goes on to detail the marketing practices behind Showgirls and how MGM/UA debunked the myth that NC-17 was unmarketable. They were able to advertise in newspapers, television, video rentals, and theatres with special trailers. Still, the film bombed at the box office, thus confirming that NC-17 was to be avoided. He summarizes studies done that confirm people’s negative perception of the NC-17 rating. He addresses other factors that may have led to Showgirl’s box-office failure. He also informs the reader about the not-so independent distributors conflicts in distributing NC-17 films because of their parent companies, namely Miramax and Fine Line.
In this article the writers challenge professors of criminal justice to use film to explore political and social realities of punishment. They want to stimulate research into effectively teaching criminal justice with film. Through the movie one can better understand the issues that arise concerning punishment and the state. The writers trace the development of criminal justice from a mens rea requirement to strict liability, whereby treatment concerns their action and not their intent. They discuss therapy and punishment philosophies of criminal justice and their effectiveness. Some criticized rehabilitation because it “was unlikely because, within the prison system, rehab was an artificial means to obtain release and was imposed on the offender, not a means for the offender to alter his conduct.” This is initially the case with Alex. We know from his monologues that he is pulling a fast one on the system. The writers see the film as the conflicts of therapy versus punishment taken to the extreme. Alex goes from being punished for what he had done to being treated for who he is. The debate between the philosophies is not about empirical testing but rather about political control. The writers illustrate the film’s importance based on historical events going on at the time when Burgess wrote the novel. The writers summarize the film emphasizing the difference between Alex’s totally institutionalized life in prison and his treatment life in the caring hospital. They then argue that the film is completely relevant to teaching criminal justice today. The film enables students to be suspicious of the morality of our institutions’ practices. It also demonstrates the difference between a system’s philosophy and its implementation.
The writers compare the permanent restriction of freedom from Alex’s treatment with the Sex Offender’s registry. They also consider public vigilantes taking out justice on offenders who are released early, as they happen in the film and in the real world. They argue that rehabilitation does not occur in the film, only incapacitation. They are concerned with legitimate consent because of the motivations to leave prison, similar to the ethical problem of compensating women for their eggs for stem cell research. The remainder of the article points out effective ways of using the movie as a teaching tool.
Ng writes about the state taking away a man’s choice as brainwashing. A state or a church might want “good” citizens as opposed to freedom to choose. This takes away humanity. Ng also points out that everyone in the film is involved in violence and has justifications for it. She commends the director for balancing opposing forces throughout the film, such as freedom with imprisonment, etc. She lauds him for creating in the viewer a belief that the government is at least equally as evil as Alex. Kubrick does this with the inhumane experiment. She compares Alex’s treatment to a similar treatment in the movie A Short Film about Killing.
Ng explains some of the language used by the youngsters in the film, called Nadsat. This language is used to distinguish the young from the adults. She also writes about his filming techniques and what they emphasize. We learn of the meaning of the empty theatre where rape takes place which is also represented by pseudo-art and meaningless culture: the society is spiritually empty. However, Alex, who still appreciates Beethoven is also capable of ultra-violence. Passions are rooted in human nature. She argues that the film is still relevant concerning generation conflict, sources of violence, corruption, and institutional base of power.
Susan Carruthers begins by comparing works that take place in a future year (George Orwell’s 1984, Kubrick’s 2001 and A Clockwork Orange). She then writes about Anthony Burgess’s novel and how it was inspired: four young men gang-raped his wife. She then summarizes the film, pointing out its inconsistencies with the book. She points out that American critics hated it while the British were more favorable. Tabloids created a self-fulfilling prophecy when they predicted copycat crimes, which indeed occurred. So, here, art imitated life (Burgess’ wife’s rape) and later life imitated art. Kubrick believed that film could have no effect on people’s decisions, although the movie makes the opposite point. Carruthers says it is hard to prove causation between on-screen violence and off-screen crime. Initially, Kubrick insisted his name was on the title, but then handed the title over to Burgess, who didn’t like the film anyway and later made a play that mocked Kubrick. Kubrick pulled the movie from theatres, believing his film caused copycat crimes and tired of criticism. It would not appear in England until after his death. Carruthers says that British censors, upon receiving the film for the second time, were more lax with the rape scenes than they would be with today’s films. Kubrick did edit the film for the MPAA to get an R rating, but not for England’s BBFC. However, upon re-release, critics ignored it and so did copycatters.
This article discusses Stanley Kubrick’s incongruent mix of film and music. 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange were very different films but both used classical music themes and their contemporary renderings. Both films had a hit soundtrack. The article tells of Wendy Carlos’ impressive background and her involvement in the development of electronic music. Synthesized music was rare, especially for Classical music. Carlos brought it to the masses with a hit record Switched-On Bach. The article explains the development of the Moog Synthesizer and traces the success of Carlos and her partner Rachel Elkind. We understand that they had been working on Beethoven’s music before it was used for A Clockwork Orange. Carlos managed to get her music to Kubrick and he invited her to join the team, requesting some more music to be made. She explains the technical difficulties they experienced. The album for the film was number thirty-four on the Billboard charts. She released successful albums and worked on more films including Tron and The Shining.
Michael Stein confronts his fear of violence censorship by comparing and justifying violence in a number of films. He suggests that post-Vietnam films contain a different type of American violence. It was no longer the American hero’s violence but a taboo violence viewed as a disease. The films all had a paradoxical theme involving protagonists who use violence to regain their own and other’s humanity. Filmmakers used this paradox to grab the audience with violence and force them to confront it.
Stein summarizes and analyzes the violence of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, Terrence Mallick’s Badlands, and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. In an interesting way, he justifies Alex’s violence: “with violence comes passion and with that passion comes our ability to choose what we love, what we dare, who we want to be—our humanity.” He points out that Alex, played by Malcolm McDowell, is elfin and childlike, causing us to enjoy what he enjoys. Kubrick causes us to sympathize with this violent character. We want him to get out of jail and go through the treatment which eventually makes him a “clockwork orange.” Kubrick emphasizes that violence and free choice go hand in hand. It’s like burning the flag and democracy. The film forces you to acknowledge that violence is a part of human nature.
With Badlands Stein argues that American violence is often a twisted version of success. The character Kit, roaming through the wilderness, feels he must kill people in order to survive. He also learns of his fame, possibly equating it with success. The audience is able to digest the violence and like the characters because of their romantic struggle. They are trying to be more human by killing people.
Blade Runner’s violence is also justified by characters fighting for their humanity. Deckard is the robot because he has no choice of being a replicant hunter. Through violence, Deckard is able to regain his humanity by rediscovering feeling, mostly love pain, and fear. Stein also considers Robocop, Terminator, and Lethal Weapon's use of violence relative to individuals and the state.
Moskowitz reiterates film’s ability to mentally condition its viewers by stating that seeing is close to doing and seeing film can seem the same as seeing real events although the film is unrealistic. He points out some technical devices that are used. The fast motion of the orgy is used to suggest the emotionless and clockwork nature of the participants. Also, Kubrick pairs up two scenes with slow motion as action/reaction: Alex’s attack on his droogs and him being attacked by them with the milk bottle.
For any art to evoke specific emotions it must sacrifice other elements, in this case: realism. The characters are sharply divided but all evil in their own ways. The film is unrealistic in its contrived situations, overplayed acting and ridiculous coincidences. But it’s still good because we understand how it relates to our reality’s bad qualities.
Surprisingly, we see little violence. Kubrick either uses close-ups with narrative to intensify scenes or he focuses on other aspects of scene suggesting violence, leaving us to imagine it. The film lacks the blood and gore that critics claim is used to pander to sadistic viewers. Moskowitz also illustrates that lack of sensuality and ferocity in the Alex and Catlady murder scene. This is to show emotionless nature of Alex. The actual murder isn’t shown- the camera closes in on her face. Also, the rape of the writer’s wife isn’t shown. Instead Kubrick focuses on the husband watching it. Critics also say that the violence is meaningless. Kubrick counters that with the impact violence has on Alex. How can it be meaningless?
The characters and society have become mechanized, especially the prison guards who strictly follow rules. The solution to being a mechanistic person is to exercise power of choice, which adds humanism. Ironically, Alex is the most human of all. What is even more ironic is when Alex is unable to act human he is called a True Christian.
Alex draws the audience in with monologues and addressing them as his brothers. The viewer can then understand him and themselves better: they share a taste for violence, only his is much more developed. We watch him watch violence. There are also audiences in the movie that watch violence during the two stage scenes (rape of girl and Alex demonstration).
Coupling technology with art can be both good and bad. He writes about the power of cinema and how it can be dangerous. Cinema can be more realistic than reality by using different filming techniques and the state uses that power to condition Alex, committing the worst crime of all: removing humanity by the destroying free will. At the end of the film, we hear Gene Kelly’s version of “Singing in the Rain.” We heard this before during the rape scene of the writer’s wife. If the power of film is what Kubrick shows it to be in this film, then the viewer will not be able to extricate Gene’s version from Alex’s. The film has altered our perception of the song and we are conditioned to think of violence. Alex’s Beethoven has become our Gene Kelly.
Moskowitz goes on to point out other dangerous art in the film: nude females statues in the milk bar, use of bright, ugly colors. This shows that the culture of that society has fallen out. The art has no true meaning to people anymore. The Catlady acts like an expert on art, while her only non-pornographic or phallic piece of art is a bust of Beethoven, which she carelessly uses as a weapon. The film criticizes pseudo-art while highbrow critics categorize the film as such.
In this article Walter Evans argues that Stanley Kubrick’s thesis in A Clockwork Orange is the exact opposite of what moralist writers have said about it. He also discusses the film’s implications on free will while calling for reformation of society’s institutions. The writer makes a number of impressive points that help one understand the film better. First he quotes Pauline Kael, a writer for The New Yorker, who blames Kubrick and other moviemakers for creating a “new mood” for society. She states movies do not mirror reality as filmmakers claim. They desensitize us to violence and incorrectly shape our view of the world. However, the writer of the article impressively argues the opposite. Alex lives in a more violent future that Kubrick blames on failures of social institutions, not on movies shaping a “new mood.” He points out that movies are largely absent in the film. Family, school, the police, and the government are all weak in this film and can be attributed as the cause of a violent world. He points out each of these institutions failures while exonerating film. Then he goes even further by showing that film is indeed the savior of society through its use in the Ludovico technique whereby Alex is conditioned to avoid violent behavior through film and drugs. While moralists such as Kael claim that movies are negatively affecting our culture, Kubrick shows that only through extreme circumstances (forced, repeated viewing and drug effects) can movies affect our behavior. Even if normal viewing of films could modify our behavior, it would be wrong to censor it. That takes away our ability to choose. The writer also points out that art and religion would be pointless without violence and sex. The lessons of the Bible could not be taught without violence. To take away violence and sex from humans is dehumanizing.
The writer points out differences in the book and the movie. Burgess blames the scientific community for Alex’s transformation whereas Kubrick represents it as a political move. Kubrick also makes the prison Chaplain more pious, making the character more believable when he argues about an individual’s ability to choose good over evil.
Kael criticizes Kubrick for causing viewers to root for the brutal Alex. The writer, again, shows that things are not as they appear to be. We are not happy that Alex returns to violence in the end; we are pleased because he can choose evil or good.
tagged A_Clockwork_Orange American_Psycho by tidwell ...on 01-DEC-05