A Clockwork Orange is one of the most controversial movies ever made. The movie is based around a thug named Alex, a teenager, who finds happiness in about any perverse action. Alex, who seems to find glory in rape, lust, and murder, tells the story from his point of view. The movie examines the usual cliches of “individual freedom”. It seems as if Alex suffers from an attempt to exercise his own vitality within a social structure too severe to support it.
The film is not only a social satire but also a “fairy tale of retribution” and a “psychological myth”,(Kagan) all constructed around the truth of human nature. Each night Alex and his companions commit stylized but meaningless acts of violence including rape, robbery, and mugging. One such night they find themselves out at a house far off in the country. The overly modernistic house has a sign lit in the front that says “home”. The four boys slither to the front door where they act as if one of them is hurt.
Once they are permitted to enter, Alex and his gang rape the woman and leave the old man there a cripple. After the horrific event, which Alex describes as “an evening of some small energy expenditure,” the boys end back up at the Milkbar for a nightcap. The Milkbar is a place where spiked or laced drinks, called milk-plus, are served. The next morning Alex is confronted by his probation officer because his officer thinks that he was involved in the previous night’s wrongdoings. He keeps a calm demeanor throughout the whole thing and denies all charges.
That night Alex and his droogs go about their mischievous ways again. They attempt to enter an older woman’s house the same way they entered the previous night, the woman will not let them. So Alex finds his way inside and once inside he struggles with the woman, who has already called the cops, and ends up clubbing her with an enormous phallic sculpture, killing her. When he goes back outside, his droogs turn against him and smash a milk bottle over his head, leaving him for the cops. Alex is questioned by the police and then accused of murder and sent to prison.
During his stay in prison he acts like an upstanding member of society, helping at group liturgy and reading the Bible regularly. Because of this Alex is chosen to take part in an experimental rehabilitation called the “ludovico treatment”. For the treatment Alex is strapped to a chair and forced to watch horrific scenes of rape, murder, and brutality with the use of eye openers. The constant viewing of the material makes him sick, and to even think about it makes him nauseated. The material is accompanied by classical music including Beethoven, which in turn has the same affect of sickness when listened to.
After some time he is tested to see if he will regress into his former self. He is tested by having different people perform acts such as violence unto Alex, hoping to enrage him. After each test is completed Alex is set free. The satire on conditioning is fairly clear-cut: we are shown that society is actually based on power and dissembling; it follows that a man conditioned to be “good” in all circumstances is continuously vulnerable. Alex is confronted with multiple situations from his past upon his release.
He becomes the butt end of the events to close the movie, including: a hobo whom Alex beat up returns with his hobo friends to beat Alex up, Alex’s own parents take in a renter at their house who kicks Alex out, Alex’s droogs become policemen and turn on him, and finally the man who he left a cripple, at the beginning of the movie, tries to kill him like Alex killed his wife. The basic paradox of the movie is free will, and the importance of a man’s power to choose how he will act and what choices he wants to make; even if it is violence and destruction.