As I place a glass of cool moloko next to my much needed mounch, I decide to place my otchkies upon my litso. My laptop screen ready for some much needed literary nourishment, it is at this point I have the rather gloopy notion of using my rassoodock to write in Nadsat during this blog. But only at various points mind, I wouldn’t want my radosty to cause you, my faithful droogies any razdraz. Because I might be speaking completely bezoomny chepooka to some dama’s and chelloveck’s.
O my brothers will you join me or will I end up being on my oddy knocky? Or so I chumble.
Looking back over the last few months (as I enter into my mid-20s) I have reflected over my teenage years. Which where often filled with equal measures of both social embarrassment and wonderful moment’s eye opening cultural splendour. One such piece of culture which was passed around some of my fellow droogies during this period, was Anthony Burgess’s cult work of fiction ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Shortly after Stanley Kubrick’s death the film of the same name was re-released after being withdrawn from cinemas under Kubrick’s request, due to the amount of death threats he was receiving for the films context and violence.
But , O brothers being the molodoy chelloveck’s that we where at the time (or more speficially being underage for the film), we where unable to view it until several months later. But I can remember the overwhelming need to see it coupled with the excitement that it was actually something considered ‘forbidden’, should it be loveted within our grahzny little rock.
The book and the film, though both containing different endings (because Kubrick had read the American ‘censored’ version which bypassed the last chapter) each equally hold, profoundly, a piece of my young adolescence which ended and then allowed my descent into educated young gentleman with a better grasp on the cultural media . When I first read the book it genuinely took me by surprise with its exhaustive use of Burgess’s own language, culled from various literary sources. In all honesty it opened my rassoodock to a world literary brilliance and even with my own English shortcomings; I knew this was a work of art.
But enough of me and quite possibly my ranting on Burgess’s profound piece of written English, what of the film I hear you horn gromkily . At least I am hoping that is what is at being echoed through your empty void we all call a rassoodock. Released in 1971, this darkly satirical piece of ultra violence still feels fresh and inventive and this is not just down to Burgess’s artfully crafted slang. Kubrick’s direction still feels solid; every shot not only looks beautiful but feels skilfully composed by a master craftsman. The melding of these two different mediums is still a feast for the glazz and ooko’s.
It is the first 35 minutes which are the most powerful, by still being able to grab and shake you to your very core. What other film contains, within the most visceral of openings, the most violent actions of a dystopian ‘night out with the lads’; off the top of my head very few or quite possibly next to none. But within this films opening we have a violent beating of an old tramp, shot only with minimal lighting techniques and in a glorious wide angled shot. There is the disturbing (but not quite as graphic as recent films) house invasion of an older couple, as Alex and his Droogs beat and rape a middle aged woman, as Alex takes gleeful pleasure in doing so by reciting Gene Kelly’s ‘Singing in the Rain’. Provoking an collection of uncomfortable titters and sniggers as he does so.
Then there is the just as infamous death of the koshka dama, with her giant ornamental piece of phallic art. The said sexual piece of art which then becomes the weapon of her demised, which Alex proceeds to use, much to the disgust of feminists everywhere. But it still feels oddly comic in its conception and subsequent realisation. Like the aforementioned ‘singing in the rain’ sequence, an audience really can not help but snigger with uncomfortable nervousness.
On top of the more ‘infamous’ sequences (both the aforementioned and subsequently non-referenced) the film is just as iconic for its costume design.What separates it from other ‘youth gang culture’ films (such as Walter Hill’s ‘The Warriors’) set within a dystopian reality, is due to the ‘Droogs’ minimalistic design. The often mimicked but never bettered, white shirt and trousers, black boots, one fake eyelash, rubber codpiece and the very British bowler hat.
But the main thing which comes to my mind when ‘A Clockwork Orange’ is mentioned, particularly within heated conversations with my fellow film lovers, is Malcolm McDowell’s subtle and seductive Yorkshire tones wrapped up within his mesmerising anti-hero performance. So effective is he as Burgess’s live action version of Alex, that his take on it literally penetrates my imagination, each and every time I re-read the novel. It truly is a testament to his acting skill that his rendition of Alex manages (at least with myself) to permeate through to other mediums.
What I am trying to say in not so many words dear bloggers is that, although various aspects of the film might seem as though they have aged greatly. Its core themes and ideals seem to be even more evident now, especially in light of the ‘ASBO’ generation. But I also think that regardless of decade Burgess and Kubrick have moulded within their respective mediums, two separate pieces of timeless artistry. Burgess being the cunning linguist that he was invented his own cultural slang, which is as fresh and intelligent now as it was back in 1962. Kubrick on the hand (being the photographic visionary that he was) captured such visually gripping images and tableaux’s that are locked away into that visual memory bank. Which when mentioned bring back a cavalcade of expertly shot images to a soundtrack of Beethoven. Such is the power of Kubrick’s artistic craft.
So it certainly was a defining point in my formative teenage years culturally speaking. In terms of both new literary highways recently opened to explore and a visual feast for my young eyes to behold. With ‘A Clockwork Orange’ both Burgees and Kubrick allowed me to leave my childhood while progressing into my young adolescence and beyond.
And now as I come to the end of my reminiscing I do hope you accept my heartfelt appy polly loggies. Due to,that is shazat, using nadsat to govorett has caused me to have an ever so slight pain of the gulliver and gulliwuts. But this could also be down to my excessive quaffing of moloko, so viddy well my ever faithful droogies.