We have certainly been living in strange times at present.
I’m sure that most of us would say that what we are seeing now would be in the realm of dsyoptia; something unimaginable only 5 years ago.
So this weeks theme is looking at dsyoptian movies which mostly relate to an imagined state or society where there is great suffering or injustice, something which we are seeing so very much of today.
Probably the first such film was Fritz Lang’s silent classic Metropolis released way back in 1927.
This highly influential German science-fiction film presented a highly stylised futuristic city where a beautiful and cultured utopia exists above a bleak underworld populated by mistreated workers.
But it was largely an outliner and it really wasn’t until the 1960s that we saw the rise of dsyoptian films populating mainstream cinema. This came in parallel with the increased quality and interest in the science fiction genre, in which the two often go hand-in-hand.
Films in this genre to note IMO:
Blade Runner (1982), Brazil (1985), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Gattaca (1997), Idiocracy (2006), Minority Report (2002), Planet Of The Apes (1968), Seconds (1966), Soylent Green (1973), The Truman Show (1998) and Twelve Monkeys (1995).
But the film that I wish to highlight is one which was first released just over 50 years ago and which caused huge controversy at the time. It still remains a brilliant but deeply disturbing portrayal of society. Of course, I’m referring to Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.
Based on the 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess, which it follows very closely, it tells the tale of a violent young man named Alex who is eventually imprisoned for murder and then experimentally brainwashed via the Ludovic Technique where he is impelled towards good as he is subject to being physically sick at the suggestion or thought of committing a crime or an evil act.
This shattering political allegory is loaded with fascinating cinematic images and boosts an amazing soundtrack which is a mix of Beethoven, moog synthesiser and other classical pieces. The use of Beethoven is particularly pointed as Alex has an obsession with the composer in general and his 9th Symphony in particular.
It is also distinguished by a superb performance by Malcolm McDowell as the pathological thug; the role of a lifetime which McDowell delivers with relish that almost makes his appalling character sympathetic. Something akin to the affect of watching Richard III and having sympathy with the evil crooked-back Duke of Gloucester.
The film is a memorable experience with an appalling message of free will that is impossible to forget.
Kubrick made only 13 movies over a 46 year period of which, IMO, at least half are genuine masterpieces. This movie is one of them. He tackled many themes and genres and often made the defining film for that genre. I’ll be posting more reviews/analysis of some of his films over the coming weeks and months.
Interestingly, The Spectator had an article a few weeks ago about the the parallels between vaccine mandates and the infamous Ludovic Technique from the film and book.
Enjoy and discuss.