Controversies: A Clockwork Orange Review

Author: Peter Krämer

If ever a film deserved discussing in terms of controversies, it’s A Clockwork Orange. Censored by its own director during his lifetime, a man who was never afraid to take bold steps in cinema, and blamed for spilling over into the real words with its theatrical and seemingly wanton violence, some may think it’s easy to condemn the film as nothing more than gratuitous.


Yet in this new tome, Krämer goes beneath the surface to find meaning and motivation in the film and its impact in turn. It’s undeniable that the film provokes a strong reaction from any audience – but this author acknowledges the fact that it has a huge fanbase and must appeal on some level to human nature. He does this without asserting that we are all carnal primates and his argument is coherent, succinct and convincing without forcing the issue.


It’s a well-constructed and easy to follow journey through the film’s themes, production and reception. Technically it’s not necessary to have ever seen the film to follow – events are fully explained according to the film’s timeframe. Even the introduction is carefully organised under subheadings – into themes you may never even have realised the film contained, let alone the role they play for fans (or critics) other than yourself. The ‘controversy’ surrounding it is divided into British and American responses, which is an interesting internal comparison in itself and indicates the many layers of the intrigue surrounding the film that this book is able to strip away without confusing or over-informing.


However, so eager is Krämer to give it logical cohesion that every time he moves onto his next point, he summarises his last, which is at times a little repetitive – as is his regular reference to what’s already been written in order to connect, compare and order his findings.


His careful referencing – with citations largely from director Stanley Kubrick and the author of the book that started it all, Anthony Burgess – lends a great deal of credibility to the discussion, but there is still an individual interpretation that brings to the fore new interpretations of the violence, and indeed human relationships with violence. Throughout this examination, a real passion for cinema is evident (as you might expect from a film lecture and established film author) – his selection and analysis of ‘key’ scenes let us know this is more than a solid piece of research. Krämer is not just familiar with this film, he’s in tune with it.


And the book truly does feel like a discussion – it’s balanced, fair and in depth, and every time you feel you may have an opinion or piece of information to contest this author, he immediately considers this alternate viewpoint and delicately overturns it. All this without a sense that there is an attempt to influence the reader in any way.


Carefully illustrated with stills from the film – including the eye-catching and iconic cover art – Peter Krämer is the ultimate tour guide on a walk through the film’s motivations, making and eventual consequences. This book is a must-have for any fans of the film; anyone who ever wondered if it’s ok to enjoy it; or anyone who wants to understand how such a twisted tale can have such mass appeal.


Lauren Felton

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