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Clockwork Orange questions (1 Viewer)

Charles J P

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Ok, after seeing this movie twice, I think I get the rough idea, but I have a few questions.
1) is the general theme the irony of how Alex's life ends up? Being offered the lap of luxury by the government because the wronged him when he is a terrorist and a murderer?
2) does the milk at the milk bar represent anything?
3) whats up with the end scene where the girl is "riding" the guy with all the people watching? Is that supposed to be Alex shes riding? Is this another theme that you cant make a really bad person good?
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Richard Kim

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1) I believe the main theme of ACO is the the manner in which the government tries to force Alex to become a proper citizen. It is best summed up by the priest: "Goodness is chosen. If a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man." Kubrick poses us with this dillemma: is it ethical to to subject Alex to the torture of the Ludevico technique and take away his humanity, even if he is a menace to society?
3)The end is just Alex fantiscising having sex. The look on Alex's face as he's doing this is priceless
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The people watching and applauding could symbolize government/society rewarding Alex even though he's a violent criminal.
 

Seth Paxton

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As I recall from those who have read the books, the milk is laced with acid which makes it a popular nightclub drink.
I thought the "theme" was not the irony of the end, but the ultimate truth that there simply is no good way to control life and that trying to do so only creates new and often worse problems than you solved.
That doesn't mean that the ending isn't ironic, the irony being that the gov'ts efforts to eliminate the criminal mind have instead resulted in the justification of it (in terms of freewill).
Yes, I believe that is Alex as perhaps Napoleon (from the costumes and my memory :)) back to enjoying the same fantasies as he did originally (think of when he reads the Bible).
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andrew markworthy

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(a) the movie ends on what at first appears to be an amoral note - i.e. that Alex was going to be rewarded for his psychopathic behaviour, in essence as compensation for being messed around by the behaviour therapy he'd been forced to endure. However, on another level it is a moral ending - Alex's return to a life of hedonism and violence is right in that that is his choice. It's interesting that if you've read the American edition of the book, all this should concur roughly with Anthony Burgess's wishes. However, the British edition has an extra final chapter, in which one day a slightly older Alex realises that he no longer wants to be violent and hedonistic, and that he wants to settle down and be normal. In other words, his bad behaviour was a passing phase and of his own choice he chooses to conform. Burgess wanted this ending for the movie and was furious with Kubrick for choosing a more salacious ending.
(b) the milk is laced with a choice of psychoactive drugs. It's called 'moloko plus' ('moloko' is slang for milk, and in fact is lifted, like most of the slang in the book, straight from Russian). You can see the names of the drugs on offer on the walls of the Korova milk bar where the movie begins.
 

Jack Briggs

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In a way, one can tie it all up in a rather pithy fashion: Is the cure worse than the disease? And who possesses the more dubious moral character: Alex and his droogs or the government? Isn't the treatment just as insidious as the behavior it is intended to modify?
As for the "milk," it is a mild psychedelic--though more likely mescaline-based.
And in the end--Alex is free, free at last. Obviously, the thought of sex no longer makes him wretch.
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Rain

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It is also worth noting that the book carries on a bit farther than the film did.
There is one chapter in the book after what you see on screen. It is basically the same thing as the first chapter, with Alex hanging out with a new bunch of droogs.
That being said, I prefer the film to the book.
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Kevin M

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It is basically the same thing as the first chapter, with Alex hanging out with a new bunch of droogs.
Only at first, in fact this is the infamous "lost final chapter", which has Alex "growing up" and away from "the violent excesses of youth" and starts to want to have...like...drooly babies and..like..Family & such, that Anthony Burgess claimed was edited out by his American editors because "American's love violence".
Personally I think he was backtracking in his mellower years but whatever, I think the powerful warning (as Jack Briggs mentioned) at the end of the film and "American version" of the book is much more appropriate to the story than laying it all down to simple "youthful indiscretions".
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Mark Turetsky

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I think you guys are missing the final point of the chapter: Burgess is positing that it is only maturity which can mellow a person's taste for violence, not an enforced societal standard. It's not merely a case of Burgess "mellowing in his old age," since this chapter was written with the rest of the book, merely omitted in the American editions. It was neither lost nor was it written at a later date. As for cutting it out of the book, it severely disrupts the harmony of the book's construction. Three parts of seven chapters each becomes 2 parts of seven and 1 part of 6. We also lose the signifigance of Alex's maturity in the 21st chapter (paralleling the 21st year, classically the beginning of adulthood).
Anyway, I don't really have a problem with that last part being left out of Kubrick's movie, even though movies like 2001 and Eyes Wide Shut suggest man can evolve past the "ape" stage of evolution. It just changes what the focus of the movie should be: it becomes a movie about man as an ape, like Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, or Full Metal Jacket.
It's also worth noting how personal this story was for Anthony Burgess. He wrote it while he believed he was dying, after his wife was raped and killed by hooligans (much like the writer, Alexander, in the book), and this was his way of exorcising the demons in his life. In that light, it's not surprising he was upset when his forgiveness to the young men who killed his wife was changed.
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andrew markworthy

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With respect guys, the section about Alex in effect growing out of his violent ways has nothing to do with what has been suggested, but was based on several contemporary psychological and sociological studies, which showed that the vast majority of violent and anti-social teenagers simply grow out of their bad habits as they mature.
 

Kevin M

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I only call it "the lost final chapter" because Burgess calls it that himself in his forward to the 1986/87 edition that I have, which was the first American edition that actually had it.
I never knew about his wife & I have a clearer understanding now of what he was doing (in his own cathartic way) with the story as a whole, but nonetheless I still prefer the shocking/ironic ending in the American version...but then again what do I know I'm just a violence loving American.
The "mellower backtracking" thought was just an assumption on my part because to me his forward in the 87 edition is rather rambling & feels contradictory in some ways, it felt like he was backtracking or backpaddling. I see now that that wasn't the case.
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[Edited last by Kevin M on November 18, 2001 at 04:40 AM]
 

Dennis Nicholls

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And a question about nadsat.....

What's the difference between a nozz and a britva?

In the book there are mentions of flick-nozzes. Then Alex talks about dancing around like a barber with his horrorshow cut-throat britva. So I guess that a nozz is a knife, with a flick-nozz being a stilleto, and the britva is a straight razor. Is this right? Hard to tell with nadsat.....
 

John Watson

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Between Newspeak, PC quackspeak, Adbabble, Poptock, and Rapbuzz, does anybody really know what's goin on?

As for Clockwork Orange, Burgess' choice of words for Droogs : sounds like Russian + punk or cockney slang + imagination. The first time I saw the movie was in German, so it went right over me.
 

Mike Broadman

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In Russian, "nozh" means knife and "britva" comes from the root word for shaving, so in Clockwork Orange "nozz" must be knife and "britva" must be razor.
 

Seth--L

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He's cured since he can fantasize about sex again and listen to Beethoven's 9th (the background score it that final scene).
 

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