Stanley Kubrick was a director clinically unafraid to push the envelope, and more often than not, he made it his mission. Never was he an artist willing to rest on his laurels. His 1971 classic “A Clockwork Orange” is a perfect example of the filmmaker at his finest, testing just about every boundary put before him, and, in the end, creating something truly masterful and timeless. However, upon its release ‘Clockwork’ was rated X and deeply misunderstood as endorsing the violence perpetrated on screen—after its initial release in Britain the film became a sort of proxy, an excuse to explain “ultra-violence” already occurring around the country, whether or not it was related in any way. And not long after, Kubrick himself decided to withdraw the film from the country, making it nearly impossible to see it there for a quarter of a century.
“Turning Like Clockwork,” a 26-minute documentary directed by Gary Leva from 2011, explores the film’s “cultural impact and lasting influence.” The doc takes a long look back at the film and the state of the world Kubrick unleashed it into, all led by Malcolm McDowell (who played the sociopathic Alex DeLarge) who openly weighs in on the film’s reception, misinterpretations, and deeply unique style—his pride at being part of such a film resonates loudly throughout. A handful of directors including Paul Greengrass, Oliver Stone, and James Mangold stop by to chat up the film as well. And several critics and biographers pop up too. Even Christiane Kubrick (Kubrick’s wife) makes an appearance. Overall, it’s a fascinating look back at a crossroads in cinema and society during a crisis of representing and understanding violence, and the director who fearlessly led the way.
Check out the doc and weigh in with your thoughts about DeLarge, the droogs, ultra-violence, and “A Clockwork Orange” in the comments below.