What grabbed my attention is the use and absence of the number 4. Right from the first shot we are introduced to Alex's gang - there are four of them. What we see in the next 41 minutes is the violence and the fun they have at the expense of other people. These are four teenagers-young-adults, that think the same and enjoy the world in the same way. The break-up of the group is over a disagreement of who is going to lead them. They do not disagree on crimes, instead it's the typical juvenile disagreement of who has the longer penis (metaphorically speaking).
That mysterious number appears again when Alex is transferred to the hospital for his treatment. To cure him of his violent inclinations the doctors decide to "feed" him violent images, which he is forced to watch. But … the whole treatment starts with the preparation for the therapy. The preparation consists of injecting Alex with a chemical. Kubrick specifically draws our attention to it by showing us a close-up of the remedy. On the bottle, in main view, is a number - 114. Alex is literally injected and fed the number 4.
Later in the film after his release he is taken to the "singing-in-the-rain" home. The owner recognizes Alex as the person that raped his wife and indirectly killed her. What does he do? - he decides to torture him with the thing that Alex can't stand - Beethoven's 9th symphony. During the torture and just before Alex tries to kill himself we are exposed to that secret number again. In a nice zoom out shot, which by the way completely mimics the opening shot of the film and the introduction of Alex's gang, we see the "gang" of tortures. Four people perfectly staged around a billiard table.
The conclusion is that the number 4 is the perfect number for gang villainy and torment. A statement supported by the brief introduction and fight with the rival gang in the beginning of the film. The enemy gang
completely miss the mark - there are 5 of them and they don't survive more than one scene.
The second aspect of the film that I want to talk about is some of the language. Many people speculate that the words are made-up. Things are not that complicated. All the incomprehensible words used in the film are Russian words. Here is their translation and meaning:
sumka - bag (old hag)
devochka - girl
malchik - boy
moloko - milk
iazik - tongue
Please excuse the spelling of the Russian words. The cyrillic alphabet has letters in it that are missing from my keyboard.
The more interesting question is why Kubrick decided to use Russian words? To answer that question we have to note that the only ones in the film that are using Russian words are Alex and the members of the gang. No other character in the film uses them. The reason being is Stanley Kubrick draws a clear parallel between his film and Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment."
Just like Raskolnikov in the novel, the gang is alienated and separated from society. They see themselves as superior to everyone and are unable to relate to anyone, just like the novel. Alex sees himself as a "superman" figure living above the moral rules that society is based upon.
Just like the novel, the characters are poor. Evidenced by the dolly tracking shot of Alex walking to his parent's apartment building. There is trash and debris everywhere outside the building. Inside the building is pretty much the same (not to mention the broken elevator).
Hence, the crimes that the gang commits are geared toward the rich or against the utterly inferior homeless "louse." (word used in the novel)
Just like in the novel, the crimes are committed in the beginning of the film and it focuses on the psychology of the criminal (Alex and Raskolnikov). The punishment comes in the end, and this is where the film differs from the novel. In "Crime and Punishment" Raskolnikov surrenders to his love for Sonya. In "Clockwork Orange" Alex, pressed by the local government and hypocritical politics, indulges his love of crime once again.
Because that is who we are.
4 / 5
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Staring: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates