The only thing I knew about "A Clockwork Orange" going into it was that it was directed by Stanley Kubrick and featured a guy in a bowler hat with pointed eyelashes around one eye. I would soon learn that it's a story about a futuristic British gang leader committing violent crime, getting caught, sent to prison, and by his own volition, subject to an experimental treatment that creates a painful physiological response to violence and sex (and Beethoven), who then gets released, rejected, and reaps the agony he sowed earlier in the film. Oh, and there's tons of boobs, bush, and a penis or two.
Yeah. Seriously. It's a rather trippy, dense, and thought-provoking film and it really takes you on a roller coaster ride sans restraints.
The film is definitely trying to say something. Included among its many themes is the nature of criminality and morality, an argument between retribution v. rehabilitation, "good" as defined as a "choice" v. the mere absence of "bad", the ineffectual government structures of both the Left and the Right, the ethics of personality-changing psychological treatment, the hypocrisy of society and where the line of acceptability is drawn, and the role of aggression and lust in art. It's all good stuff but when grouped together becomes pretty overwhelming.
In fact, if it wasn't for how well the narrator Alex DeLarge (played unrecognizably by Malcom McDowell) told his story, it would have been easy to get lost in this mess. But alas, I pushed through my viewing because I was intrigued by our main character. This is, admittedly, despite his unredeemable propensity for physical and sexual assault. That's what I found fascinating about the film: Our main character is the villain, who does villainous things, and deserves none of our empathy--and yet you cant help but continue watching this train wreck of a story and hope he turns out ok.
I ultimately didn't like this film. At least, right now, I feel I didn't like this film. I waffle between considering it cinematic brilliance or the worst piece of avant-garde bullshit to be included on my list. I suppose a real critic would have to sift through those feelings and decide but for me, well--I can simply leave it where it is.