A Clockwork Orange: Free Will
December 16, 2010
A Clockwork Orange: Free Will
“I don’t care about the dangers father, I just want to be good; I want the rest of my life to be one act of goodness” (Kubrick, 1971). The father responds, “The question is whether or not his technique really makes a man good, goodness comes from within, goodness is chosen, when a man can not choose, he seizes to be a man” (Kubrick, 1971). This is a conversation between the delinquent Alex and the prison chaplain in the 1971 film, A Clockwork Orange. They are discussing the Ludovico technique, which is an experimental aversion therapy for rehabilitating criminals, but all this technique seems to do is take away a man’s free will. “The film is used to explore the political and social realities of punishment, in particular the examination of the moral question of "voluntariness" and the implications for "treatment" as a mechanism of social control” (Lichtenberg, Lune, & McManimon, 2004).
A Clockwork Orange takes place in futuristic and dark London, where Alex and his friends, which are referred to as his “droogs” are sipping milk mixed with various drugs at the Korova Milk Bar before they partake in a night of violence. They attack an elderly intoxicated bum and get in a fight with their rivals who are trying to gang rape a women in an abandoned casino. Police sirens are heard so they steal a car and take off in the night, driving around like crazy people until the arrive at Mr. Alexander’s home where they assault him while Alex rapes his wife and sings Singin’ in the Rain. Alex and his droogs then return back to the milk bar and listen to another patron sing a movement from the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven, who Alex greatly admires.
The next morning Alex wakes to his mother beating on his bedroom door telling him he is going to be late for school. He acts as if he is unwell and needs to rest but instead picks up two girls at a record shop and brings them back to his house were they engage in intercourse. He then meets up with his friends who want to chat about their gang. Georgie is insisting that the gang now be ran in a new way because he feels as if Alex has to much power and they want to commit more ambitious crimes. Alex does not take this well and while the gang is walking next to a canal he attacks them, pushes them in the water, and slices one of the guys hands in order to re-establish his leadership. After drinks at a bar they agree things will continue as they have been, responding with their famous words, “right, right right”.
Later on that night they planned on invading a home that belonged to just a woman and her cats. She declined opening the door and told Alex to use a phone that was farther up the road. Alex said thank you and acted like he was walking away. Instead he broke in to the house and appeared in her room where they got in a brawl and he smashed her in the face with a statue. He hears police sirens and runs out the front door where the other droogs are waiting. One of them smashes a milk bottle across Alex’s face and this temporarily blinds him and they leave him for the cops and flee. Alex is taken in, interrogated and informed that he is a murderer because the woman died from her injuries.
Alex is tried, convicted, and sentenced to 14 years in prison for murder. After two years into his sentence he shows an interest in the Bible and becomes friends with the prison chaplain. Alex pulls the chaplain aside in the library and expresses his want to participate in the Ludovico technique. Soon the Minister of the Interior makes a visit to the prison looking for volunteers to participate in this technique and Alex makes sure he is noticed. He does not care what he is volunteering for he just sees it as a way to get out of prison but the Chief Officer has no idea. Alex is selected and taken to the facility where he is placed in a straitjacket with his eyelids forced open with special tools and forced to watch...
References: Kubrick, S. (Producer & Director). (1971). A Clockwork Orange [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros. Pictures.
Lichtenberg, I., Lune, H., & McManimon Jr., P. (2004). "Darker than any prison, hotter than an human flame": Punishment, choice, and culpability in a Clockwork Orange. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 15(2), 429-449. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Rabinovitz, R. (1979). Ethical values in Anthony Burgess’s Clockwork Orange. Studies in the Novel, 11(1), 43. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
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