Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange

Choreographing movement is everything. If you’ve seen most of Kubrick’s films, you’ll understand the emphasis on diagramming – actors, objects, and the spaces in between. It’s a strong reason to want to watch a film. Especially if it’s a film as messy, sadistic, and verbally vague like A Clockwork Orange. Based on Anthony Burgess’s book, the film started off as being a dystopian horror but soon transformed itself into a glorified drama.

The film’s motive is simple. It is to present to you the life of people without the immediate effects of law and order. And by those virtues, it portrays distasteful and offensive acts that the world (perhaps inevitably?) would carry forward. The story is about Alex, a hedonistic, sadistic, and young man, who spends his nights listening to Beethoven’s 9th, and his days frolicking. He’s violent, a rapist, and a sex addict. If you’re wondering if there’s any hidden philosophical purpose to the story, there isn’t. But that’s not to say there isn’t a psychological one.

Stanley Kubrick composed the film’s frames imagining how one would a contradictory and conflicted world. He dehumanized Alex to the point of insanity. It’s focused – it’s not clear why Alex is but his existence is seen and purported as an object. The scene where they’re all walking in a tight circle in prison externalizes this aspect. It compresses their crime as striking not a moral nerve but only a bureaucratic one. One that serves a society; someone we raise to the stand to desensitize and terrorize the masses.

The film has no telling, instrumental moment. It’s harsh and radical. That some things never change. That’s the moral of the story. Only Stanley Kubrick presents it in a way that it is bound to confuse you. With the help of religion and psychiatry, the film is long and psychopathic. You’re not supposed to feel something for Alex – even though it’s his life you plunge into all throughout the film. And for me, that’s a tough thing to achieve. To present a character for the length of 140 minutes and not give away any emotion to the audience (that is you) to take home or sit with.

Spike Jonze’s Her

The intricate relevancy of Her in all its brooding loneliness asks us to modify our perception and our yearning for intimacy. When Jean Paul-Sartre wrote, “Nothingness lies coiled in the heart of being – like a worm.” It’s true that to exist, which in the times of Her, could be intuited as a nauseating act, humans would feel, live, and be as trapped in the maze of technology as can be.

The unending reassurances of love to emerge out of nothingness. Although there are hardly any empty spaces in the world of Her – people are swarming everywhere – but then you see Theodore’s and Amy’s empty home. This, to me, symbolizes the distance between any two people. Is it a possibility to love and live through a system that is perhaps more equipped at handling heartbreak or disappointment or misery better than you?

The operating system that names itself Samantha reflects the ambiguousness of our own christening. Samantha possesses a consciousness so it evolves at every stage. It feels love, jealousy, indifference, nostalgia, and yearning. Tell me, how is it any different than the essence of being human?

In the film, Samantha says she can understand how limited perspective can look to the non-artificial mind. It made me think of the why and how of the possibility of a non-human mind. And in all its ability to process information, to perceive, to relate, to feel emotion, can there be the same humanness of a self that transcends nothingness and yet is so acutely defined by it? Is it the same proof of life that completes a human being from birth to death that would define a computer?

The use of red, which in other films like Enter the Void or We Need To Talk About Kevin, harbored a frustrated and pessimistic unease, in this film, felt sympathetic and positive. The film urges you to understand an acute relation between things. The relationship between people, objects, places, memories, and words. They exist in a disquieting and foreseeable realm. Within reach but still out of one’s complete and solitary possession.