The Genius Behind A Clockwork Orange

Samantha Parker ‘23 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

A useless object, inherently natural and yet unnaturally augmented and forcefully used hence a clockwork orange. This film delves into the psychosis of human nature as well as offering a deep examination of society. There are large uses of symbolism and religious subtext embedded within to further draw out the main theme of the true nature of human beings. This message is shown through the narration and perspective of the protagonist named Alex, a young man that runs purely on his primal impulses with no sense of morality. He and his partners in crime called the Droogs wreak havoc on unspecting people through acts of violence and rape. Set in a dystopian future, this society is unhinged and has a weak establishment of law and order, making crime more accessible. Imagery and symbolism, such as art of naked bodies, represent the nature of human impulses, there is also a religious foundation subtly being reflected.

Director Stanley Kubrick uses flat-wide shots to display the surroundings that are bland and often crammed to convey a sense of detachment or an impersonal feel. The tone is shrouded in uncomfortability and strangeness. It is supposed to make the audience feel off as the film shows the rawness of an immoral society as well as addressing the deepest parts of our nature which is seen through the awful actions of the protagonist Alex. There is unfiltered violence, corruption, hate, rape, and twisted redemption. 

The film follows Alex who has no moral compass and acts solely based on impulse by an extension of his own nature. He takes what he wants and when he wants, although he knows when there is a time to turn it off and on. Alex is an example of purity in the basic nature form where there are no external factors influencing his actions. The way this dystopian society functions is the real villain or antagonist by caring more about scientific advancement than ethical quandaries. When Alex later runs himself into confinement by his crimes, he volunteers himself to be a subject in a government experiment in order for them to determine whether he can be molded into a model civilian; to rid him of his darkest desires instead of providing reformation. This society does not view reformation as important which in turn is why they are blind to Alex’s need for help instead they view him as someone who did wrong and should be punished. By experimenting on him using various tormenting methods to mold him into what they want, they’re essentially taking away his choices. Making and having a choice defines human nature even if the action of the choice has destructive means. The key question of this film is whether humanity is lost if you’re deprived of the choice between good and evil. That free will is a basic human right. By the end of the movie you can gather that when you cross that line with someone who is pure or purely driven, you create something wrong and alien. 

The religious foundation that is subtly hinted through symbolism is a reflection of the bible. Alex is a representation of Jesus: he is pure in a sense but then is betrayed by his partners much like Jesus was betrayed by Judas. He then had to repent for his sins but later is seen as a sort of prophet where he is getting much attention by surviving a perilous fall. 

Milk is shown in the beginning shot of the movie as well as other principle scenes. The milk in the glass cup or jar represents purity. In this case, purity means the pure nature of a human being. In addition, throughout the film the classical song of  Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9”  is played throughout the film and is amplified in major moments. This classical piece symbolizes Alex’s humanity, his choice of doing the actions he does. By eliminating Alex’s choice, you can see this organic façade on the outside but inside he is all but mechanical, a clockwork orange.

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