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.