Watching a film from the early 70’s that was back then one of the most controversial, torturous films that the world ever laid their eyes upon – more of that later – was not quite as shocking as I first thought. Forty years on in the comfort of my colleges ‘film club’ It was not that surprising. However, the extreme scenes of ‘ultra violence’ and rape that were Stanley Kubrick’s future visions of society couldn’t have been more accurate. Due to what we see in films today. One of the main reasons we see so many powerful scenes of crime in the cinematic world of the 21st century is due to the reality of crime all around the world today, as well as the severity of it.
A young, psychotic murderer and rapist (Alex De Large) was played by Malcolm McDowell to perfection. He had the glare of a maniac just like that evil, insane look that Jack Nicholson had when playing another one of Stanley Kubrick most fascinating of characters (Jack Torrance) in The Shining. The horrendous scene of sexual torture quite early on in the film was not only shocking because of what was happening. The Way ‘Singing In The Rain’ was being sang by De Large in such a blasé, lighthearted fashion whilst beating up the husband of the women he was about to rape and preparing to sexually assault this women was all the more disturbing. It was a way of exaggerating the reality check that ‘things will get messy if crime of this kind continues’.
That old saying ‘you reap what you sow’ was the most poignant message throughout, which is why the government’s plan to solve crime by a form of psychological therapy that would torture those who have tortured was put in place. De Large, who had been sent to prison for his latest murder claimed he wanted to be ‘good again’, agreed to the treatment. Where I said earlier about the audience having to lay their eyes upon torture this was exactly what the patient had to do.
The therapy involved taking an injection that would enable the patient to feel nausea after viewing scenes of ‘ultra violence’, rape (just like what De Large committed) and The Nazi movement to look at violence and tyranny in a way that anyone should ‘disgust’. However, a mechanism was put in place to keep the eyes of the delinquent wide open during the entirety of the clips. Then his beloved Beethoven was played during the clips to make him feel that what his eyes were focussing upon was wrong.
The most powerful moment in the film was towards the end when the youngster who had been sent back into society earlier than anticipated came back to his family home. You would have to be fortunate to be accepted by your family as a changed man after you committed so many terrible deeds beforehand. So that proved. His family were not going to accept him. This bemused Alex due to the successful results of the treatment he went through. His next quest was to at least find some sort of place in society, for society to respect you surely you have to respect it though?