Stomping, whomping, stealing, singing, tap-dancing, violating. Hooligan Alex 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 A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick’s future-shock vision of Anthony Burgess’ novel. Ralph Potts reviews its Ultra HD Blu-ray release from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.


Font Rectangle Red Adaptation Poster


The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89



Details:

Studio and Year: Warner - 1971
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 137 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC - MAX CLL/MAX FALL: 2553/195
Video Aspect: 1.66:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

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


Release Date: September 21, 2021


"Being the Adventures of a Young Man Whose Principal Interests are Rape, Ultra-Violence and Beethoven"


Synopsis:

expense of others. His journey from amoral punk to brainwashed proper citizen and back again forms the dynamic arc of A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick’s future-shock vision of Anthony Burgess’ novel. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

My Take:

I reviewed A Clockwork Orange when it was released on Blu-ray in 2011. I have included some of the comments from that review here.

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.


Adapted from Anthony Burgess’s 1962 decline-of-civilization novel, A Clockwork Orange received four Academy Award nominations; Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (Based on Material from Another Medium) and Best Film Editing. A Clockwork Orange 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. I can’t say that it is a film that I reach for when I am looking for something to pass the time but, I can certainly appreciate it for what it is.

In 2020, the United States Library of Congress selected A Clockwork Orange for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."



Replay Value:



Parental Guide:

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.


Audio: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


    • Dynamics:
    • Low frequency effects:
    • Surround Sound presentation:
    • Clarity/Detail:
    • Dialog Reproduction:
    • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA



UHD Presentation: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:



A Clockwork Orange comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

A Clockwork Orange recently underwent a 4K restoration which was conducted by Warner Bros.’ Motion Picture Imaging (MPI). Kubrick’s former right-hand man Leon Vitali and the Kubrick Estate worked closely with the team at Warner Bros. during the mastering process.

It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like A Clockwork Orange has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of cinematography that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of many newer films shot today. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

This is a dark thematic film that strives to create the look and feel of director Stanley Kubrick’s vision. A Clockwork Orange has never made for a commanding visual experience on home video but, to me that was always a given determined by setting and, the elements necessary to convey the film’s somber, dark tone.

I am happy to report that its primary foundation remains fully intact while revealing layers of seemingly new levels of detail, definition, color delineation, and emboldened contrast that elevate its thematic impact. The opening scene with its background lighting, deep shadows and emboldened contrast conveys the expanse of abandoned facility. I was impressed with the sharpness and detail in the sequence where we first see the interior of Alex’s house.

The subtle minutia visible in the clothing and facial features among the members of the cast was striking. Grain remains perfectly intact, with an even and filmic essence that underscores the thematic content. Aside from scenes like ones that take place in Alex’s parent’s house and those featured in the home invasions, the color range in the film is somewhat limited but, the rendering of primary/secondary colors are gratifying and contrastingly vivid. I also found that fleshtones appeared gradational and quite natural as well.

The addition of high dynamic range added a pleasing visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. I also felt that the purposefully dark/dreary sequences benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened their blacks and shadow delineation. Whites are snappy and stand out nicely against darkened backgrounds (the scene in bizarre pub/hangout for example). Brightly lit sequences, such as the one in the prison chapel or lobby of the medical center, had excellent dynamism and visible gradations. In addition to the increase in resolution, this made the differences between the 1080p video and this rendering standout.

I found the Ultra HD presentation of A Clockwork Orange allows its attributes to be fully realized in a way that it hadn’t been before. Video enthusiasts are sure to appreciate it.

DTS-HD Master Audio:


Warner didn’t include a new audio mix for A Clockwork Orange and opted to provide the previous 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The soundtrack is presented in a front oriented mix that is highlighted by the wonderfully engaging music score. The orchestrated elements are spread across the front of the room with subtle articulation that blends perfectly with the rest of the soundtrack to create an evenly balanced, multi-dimensional presentation where the music cues help drive the story.

Excellent directional spacing and imaging across the main three channels enables smaller background sounds within the mix to be detectable. Dialog is definitively authoritative with excellent clarity and room penetration through the center channel. The soundstage occasionally opens up. Envelopment is good as the rear channels enliven the presence of effects related to both the music and thematic elements. Low frequency detail has fair presence during these segments, but isn’t frequently used over the course of the film. While I can’t help but wonder what an abject based mix like Dolby Atmos would be like for A Clockwork Orange, I didn’t find the presentation to be lacking in any way.



For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: A Clockwork Orange Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray
    • Commentary by Malcolm McDowell and Nick Redman
    • Still Tickin': The Return of Clockwork Orange [2000 Channel 4 Documentary]
    • Great Bolshy Yarblockos! Making A Clockwork Orange
    • Turning Like Clockwork
    • Malcolm McDowell Looks Back
    • O Lucky Malcolm!
  • Digital Code



Final Thoughts:

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. It is making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment featuring veil lifting Ultra HD video and legacy bonus material. If you’re a fan and are equipped to take advantage of the Ultra HD upgrade this is simply a must have.





Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems