Blu-ray Review: A Clockwork Orange (40th Anniversary Edition)

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A Clockwork Orange (40th Anniversary Edition)
QUICK THOUGHTS:

I was so freaked out by A Clockwork Orange the first time I tried to watch it (I was probably in sixth grade at the time) that I shut it off within the first ten minutes and didn’t return to it until last year. I’ve been in love with the film ever since.

What makes the film so poignant for me is its ability to be simultaneously playful and harrowing. While you laugh at the antics of the Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his droogs, you almost feel guilty about it because of their ultra-violent nature. It’s the ultimate in black humor. People often argue that today’s audience has been desensitized by the amount of sex and violence depicted in the media. Yet what makes A Clockwork Orange so timeless is that it explores the consequences of these actions with a severity that is rarely seen today.

“It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen,” remarks Alex, our narrator through A Clockwork Orange. While I’m not sure this transfer, the same one offered on the 2007 Blu-ray release, is the absolute best A Clockwork Orange could look, the colors here, from Alex’s forced-open blue eyes to Dim’s ruby red lips, are bright and vivid. There is a discernible difference when you compare this version to the standard definition one, yet the disc’s image quality looks a bit soft considering what we’ve seen from the best the format can offer.

SUPPLEMENTS:

A major selling point for this set is the second disc, which is essentially a double feature of outstanding feature-length documentaries.

First up is the Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, an amazingly thorough and brilliant portrait of Kubrick’s life and career that truly enhances one’s understanding and appreciation of his work. Tom Cruise narrates, while the likes of Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg (just to name a few) offer their thoughts on Kubrick’s career and contributions. Even in standard definition, this one is nearly worth the price of admission alone as it is a must-see for cinephiles.

The second documentary, O Lucky Malcolm!, chronicles Malcolm McDowell’s career as told by the actor himself. McDowell serves as an unofficial ambassador of sorts for this collection, and his contributions can be felt throughout nearly all of the special features. He’s an incredibly funny and charismatic storyteller who makes all of these supplements worth watching.

Outside of O Lucky Malcolm!, the only HD exclusives are a pair of newly produced featurettes. “Turning Like Clockwork” (26 minutes) examines the film’s legacy amongst notoriously violent films and the many real-life crimes blamed on the film. “Malcolm McDowell Looks Back” (11 minutes) is basically just that — the actor flips through a table filled with old production stills. The most interesting find is a draft of the script with an alternate title scribbled in by Kubrick, a title that McDowell will explain certainly isn’t as “catchy” as A Clockwork Orange.

The rest, including McDowell’s highly entertaining commentary track, are carry-overs from the 2007 Blu-ray and two-disc Special Edition DVD releases.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I believe A Clockwork Orange, in some shape or form, belongs in every movie lover’s library. Even 40 years later, it still feels fresh, edgy and shocking. Though we’re looking at the same transfer we saw in 2007, the added special features (most notably A Life In Pictures) make this set a definite upgrade. That is, unless you plan to go the extra mile and buy the Stanley Kubrick Limited Edition Collection that also features everything available here and much, much more.