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Clockwork Orange: 40th Anniversary Edition, A (Blu-ray Review)

25 May, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

Street 5/31/11
$34.99 two-disc Blu-ray
Rated ‘R.’
Also available as part of the Stanley Kubrick: The Essential Collection (10-DVD set $74.92, 10-disc Blu-ray $148.95).
Stars Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Warren Clarke.

A little of the Ludwig van, a bit of the old ultra-violence, a few codpieces and Malcolm McDowell turns in his most amazing performance among his nearly 200 roles.

“It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen,” opines his Alex DeLarge in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, which 40 years after its initial release remains a wonderful onslaught on the senses and a hugely entertaining ride of sheer sadism.

McDowell’s gleefully despicable antihero Alex, raping, assaulting, pillaging and singing his way across a futuristic Britain along with his three droogs, carries the film. When he’s betrayed, jailed and subjected to government testing, basically getting everything that’s been coming to him, you might find yourself wanting to cheer for him. You just won’t want to admit it.

Even in another 40 years, A Clockwork Orange will still be entertaining and probably still controversial. And if you’re someone who confuses Kubrick’s displays of violence and delinquency as a celebration of them, well, great bolshy yarblocks to you.

The Blu-ray picture is, of course, gorgeous. Pristine as an unmuddied lake, you might say. As clear as an azure sky of deepest summer. But we’ve seen this title before on Blu-ray (2007), and you’ll likely be picking this one up for the extras.

New extras are headlined by “Turning Like Clockwork,” opened by McDowell himself, with modern directors, authors and pundits weighing in on the film’s violence and its impact on society. Death threats, criminals blaming the film for their crimes and the sordid history of the film in England all are included. A one-on-one with McDowell (“Malcolm McDowell Looks Back”) has him going back through his memories of Kubrick and him working on the film.

The documentary Still Tickin’: The Return of ‘Clockwork Orange’ is carried over from previous releases but remains highly interesting, with pundits and people involved with the film discussing the movie’s impact. Also carried over is the lengthy “Great Bolshy Yarblocks!: Making A Clockwork Orange,” which is equal parts making-of and testimonials about Kubrick by his peers.

There’s also a trailer and a commentary by McDowell and historian Nick Redman.

The second disc includes two feature-length documentaries, Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures and O Lucky Malcolm, looking at the lives and careers of the director and lead actor, respectively.

It’s worth noting that both discs also are included in the Stanley Kubrick: Limited Edition Collection, also out on Blu-ray May 31.

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