I thought I'd resume my blogging spree by reviewing Stanley Kubrick's timeless classic. The 60s saw a rise in freewill and unruliness amongst teenagers. The protagonist, Alex, is a representative of that, perhaps in an extreme and exaggerated way. We see the everyday orgies of sexual violence that Alex and his fellow "droogs" indulge in, the portrayal of which is darkly artistic. So is the setting of the Korova milkbar, a place frequented by the boys. Alex loves Beethoven and finds acute satisfaction in fantasizing about rape and torture. After one of their escapades, Alex is caught red-handed and is put into jail with charges of murder. The movie takes a turn when the fruits of modern medicine are used to "treat" this juvenile delinquent. His body is conditioned to experience terror and paralysis in response to violence. He can't take Beethoven any more.
Alex is discharged. His family refuses to accept him and he experiences bitter retribution in the hands of victims of his past brutalities. His agony reaches a peak when he is left to suffer in a room resounding with the melody of Beethoven. It is at this point of time that he chooses to end his life and jumps out of the window. But he survives the fall and ends up in a hospital with broken bones. He is in the newspapers *again*. And this time, he ends up as the center of a heated political debate about the justness of the so-called scientific cure for crime. He undergoes slow and careful treatment to annull the effects of the earlier treatment. The movie ends with a "special visitor", a minister, coming to meet Alex at the hospital. Posing for photos with the minister in front of crowds of journalists and cameramen with Beethoven playing in the background, Alex finds himself cured and gives a twisted smile as he indulges in sexual fantasies like before.
The first half of the movie uses Alex as a representative of the rebelliously delinquent teenager. The grotesque yet artistic portrayal of the savageries somehow keeps you from hating Alex. The second half of the movie evokes in its viewers a deep sympathy for Alex. It shows the unpleasant consequence of using science to interfere with nature. It also fills you up with disgust for politically motivated government policies and shows the futility of it all.
So much for the plot. In my opinion, the theme is broader and more general: Whether for good or evil, free will is something natural and spontaneous and is an integral part of who you are. The central question posed by the movie is whether it is worthwhile to curb free will. The movie does not present a clearcut opinion on this. But, it definitely reveals Kubrick's bend of mind against the curbing of free will. The ending is not very conclusive. Alex's sexual urges are definitely restored, but we don't know if he will continue to be the brute he used to be. It is left for the viewer to decide. Thus, it is an open-ended work of art that leaves its viewers pondering. Someone looking for a clear-cut message might be disappointed.