There's a lot to unpack within the first few minutes of the film “A Clockwork Orange.” This would be my second time viewing this film, and I've made sure to take notes, this time.
I feel like every Stanley Kubrick film should be treated like this; like a Fabergé egg. Like a delicate piece of art to be examined at close range; this is possibly the only way you can really see the bigger picture.
I want to mention before moving forward that I'm excited to do this analysis, because I really enjoyed the film. But "A Clockwork Orange" was not the type of film I'd ever want to see more than once; it was simply too catastrophic. Too violent. There were parts that really made me feel queasy, mainly the rape scenes.
Films and books like “A Clockwork Orange” however, are a precious rarity. They are rare because they boldly and unapologetically teach us invaluable lessons about the world we live in, and the world around us. We’re all living in the same world, after all, and everything happening in it is happening to us, whether or not we realize.
The thing, though, about “lessons” is that they are often interpreted in different ways. Just like symbols in poetry, scriptures in the Bible, or colors.
The intro to the movie, for example, starts with only a bold red color flooding the screen. A very uncomfortable shade of red that, unbeknownst to the viewer, sets the tone for the entire film. And as the opening credits progress, the color jarringly switches to blue, which to me is reminiscent of the colors red blue as it pertains to politics: Republican vs. Democratic. Of course, these colors may signify very different things depending on who you ask, they may even mean nothing at all to some people.
The colors red and blue, and the colors that result from mixing them, are prominent throughout the film, so it’s best to at least address what these colors could potentially mean. The color red can symbolize passion or fire. It may even signify sexual desire, or power. And the color blue may relate to tranquility, coolness and peace. Some may even think of water when they think of the color blue.
So, just within the first few seconds of the film, we get several clues as to what to expect without even realizing it: a political clash? A difference of opinion as it relates to morals and values? War? Opposition? Merging? Which brings us to the next scene.
Young rogue Alex stares menacingly at us from underneath the brim of his hat as he drinks from a tall glass of milk. His three colleagues sit around him with their feet propped atop naked female mannequins. The scene is rude, and the audience already feels a sense of unease at this blatant and unapologetic display.
But do we fear them? Do we want to be like them? Do we want to tell on them? Do we want to hang out with them? Are we allowed to hang out with them? These are some of the questions that may surface while in this particular scene. They are very important questions to ask, really, because the answer determines one's moral compass, and where one's loyalties lie. The viewer is still unaware of the fact that these questions are being covertly presented to them, and we are only mere minutes into the film. And maybe that's the point, for the viewer not to realize how much is actually being presented to them at once without their knowledge.
Within this very short amount of time, we see the potential of these young boys, we understand their moral compass to a certain extent, simply by their subtle actions. We get a sense of their maturity level as well, and we know immediately that something isn't right.