The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 1971
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 137 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 1.66:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Malcolm MacDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corri, Miriam Karlin
Written & Directed by: Stanley Kubrick based on the novel by Anthony Burgess
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 31, 2011
"Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven"
Stomping, whomping, stealing, singing, tap-dancing, violating. Hooligan Alex (Malcolm McDowell) has a good time - at the tragic expense of others. His journey from amoral punk to brainwashed proper citizen and back again forms the dynamic arc of Stanley Kubrick's future-shock vision of Anthony Burgess' novel. Controversial when first released, A Clockwork Orange won New York Film Critics Best Picture and Director Awards and earned four Oscar nominations,* including Best Picture. Its power still entices, shocks and holds us in its grasp.
When I was a teenager I saw bits and pieces of A clockwork orange on cable TV and found it to be abstract and unappealing. I have never seen it from beginning to end until now. Wow, I can only imagine how this film must have been received upon its release back in 1971. It isn't the kind of film that can be easily summed up. I found an excellent overview from Wikipedia that hits the high points nicely:
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 darkly satirical science fiction film adaptation of Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. The film, which was made in England, concerns Alex (Malcolm McDowell), a charismatic, psychopathic delinquent whose pleasures are classical music (especially Beethoven), rape, and so-called 'ultra-violence.' He leads a small gang of thugs (Pete, Georgie, and Dim), whom he calls his droogs (from the Russian друг, "friend", "buddy"). The film tells the horrific crime spree of his gang, his capture, and attempted rehabilitation via a controversial psychological conditioning technique. Alex narrates most of the film in Nadsat, a fractured, contemporary adolescent slang comprising Slavic (especially Russian), English, and Cockney rhyming slang. This cinematic adaptation was produced, directed, and written by Stanley Kubrick. It features disturbing, violent images, to facilitate social commentary about psychiatry, youth gangs, and other contemporary social, political, and economic subjects in a dystopian, future Britain.
Clockwork is definitely rich in social commentary. It is starkly visual in its use of disturbing imagery to convey its thematic ideology. I found it to be ambitious, ironic and unsettling while marveling at its cinematic grandeur. Kubrick was a master storyteller and this film is most definitely a testament to his visionary style. Malcolm MacDowell gives an amazing performance in his eerily dark and sinister portrayal of Alex DeLarge. This is a fascinating film that is strangely engaging as it weaves its bewildering tale that is meant to provoke thoughts of morality. Its significance as a classic cinematic work is obvious and I look forward to another viewing in order to allow deeper absorption of it subtleties. Although previously released on Blu-ray I am glad to have had the opportunity to review it in this collectible Digibook from Warner.
The rating is for strong sexual content, violence and thematic material that would make it inappropriate for young viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
A clockwork orange comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.1 mbps.
This high definition presentation delivers fair to good overall image quality that appeared faithful to the film's original elements. Images offers an appreciable level of detail during close ups and certain wide angle camera shots. Depending on the lighting exterior shots look vivid with naturally rendered colors and stable resolution. The majority of the time the visuals don't have a high level of dimension. Sharpness is acceptable but occasionally inconsistent as the image softens at times. The variety of period colors is reproduced well but aren't especially eye catching. Blacks are punchy which adds a little pop during some of the low level sequences. Those same scenes have an improved sense of depth thanks to a discernible level of visible detail in dark backgrounds. Grain is preserved naturally and is noticeable throughout. Occasionally it takes on more prominence but I don't find it to be problematic. While this presentation lacks the polish of today's newer films being released on Blu-ray Disc it appears to replicate this 40 year old film's original elements and looks decent in high definition.
The DTS-HD Master Audio mix presents this soundtrack's elements quite naturally. This is a dialogue driven film but it contains a variety of sounds and music score that benefit from the high resolution afforded by lossless sound. The originally recorded elements sound one dimensional and dated but refined and dynamically supported. There are many moments where there is no dialogue and the only auditory used to tell the story, are the music and/or a series of sounds. They are cleanly reproduced and free from strident highs or an edgy mid range. The front soundstage is narrow but opens up nicely when the film's eclectic music takes center stage. There isn't much in the way of surround sound or low frequency effects but there wouldn't have been originally so adding it would have sounded unnatural. Based upon the thematic tone of the film and the age of the recording I think this presentation is right on target.
- Audio Commentary with Malcolm MacDowell and Nick Redman
- Still Tickin': The Return of Clockwork Orange - 44 minute featurette
- Great Bolshy Yarblockos! Making A Clockwork Orange - 27 minute documentary
- (HD) Malcolm McDowell Looks Back - 11 minute featurette
- (HD) Turning Like Clockwork - 26 minute featurette
- BD-Live enabled
- Digital Copy
- 40 page collectible Blu-ray Book/keep case
- Theatrical trailer
- Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures - 142 minute documentary
- O Lucky Malcolm! - 86 minute documentary
Based on the novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess and adapted by the visionary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick A clockwork orange stands on its own as a classic cinematic work that is justly deserving of the accolades that have been bestowed upon it. This 40th anniversary edition release from Warner Home Video marks its second release on Blu-ray. It features the same VC-1 encoded 1080p video transfer and DTS-HD lossless sound. The quality of the presentation may disappoint some however I felt it faithfully represented the film's original elements. Warner has included several new bonus features in addition to previously released supplements that include the excellent documentary Stanley Kubrick: A life in pictures. I am not so sure that A clockwork orange is for everyone but film enthusiasts that appreciate it will want to own this anniversary edition Blu-ray offering from Warner.
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