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August 1995, Week 3


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Mark Netter <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 16 Aug 1995 03:17:49 -0400
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The problem with A Clockwork Orange, and I have read that Kubrick himself
felt some sense of failure, is that Alec is the most charismatic character in
that world, which is otherwise drab or grotesque.  Hence his character
engenders an identification differently from the book, and the beautifully
choreographed violence, rather than making the intended anti-violence
message, becomes seductive to a mass audience.  The film was one of those
pioneering explicit violence (along with Bonnie & Clyde, The Wild Bunch)
under the mantle of "controversial" pop art, but at the time it abetted the
escalation of graphic violence in the movies.
On the other hand, the violence, drug use and sexual abuse in The Bad
Lieutenant is completely repulsive, which may be why so many viewers are
repelled by the film itself.  Keitel gets his minimal redemption, but he is
not forgiven his sins.  It's an ugly portrait of a bad man on a deservedly
bad luck streak, and while the film does have faults (ie. the casting of the
nun) it is harder for an audience to get their rocks off on the violence.
Mark Netter
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