Tuesday, 26 February 2013

On the class hatred in relation to "A Clockwork Orange"...

An interview with Stanley Kubrick adapted from here.

  • You deal with the violence in a way that appears to distance it.

If this occurs it may be because the story both in the novel and the film is told by Alex, and everything that happens is seen through his eyes. Since he has his own rather special way of seeing what he does, this may have some effect in distancing the violence. Some people have asserted that this made the violence attractive. I think this view is totally incorrect.

    • How do you explain the fascination that Alex exercises on the audience?

    I think that it's probably because we can identify with Alex on the unconscious level. The psychiatrists tell us the unconscious has no conscience - and perhaps in our unconscious we are all potential Alexes. It may be that only as a result of morality, the law and sometimes our own innate character that we do not become like him. Perhaps this makes some people feel uncomfortable and partly explains some of the controversy which has arisen over the film. Perhaps they are unable to accept this view of human nature.

      • What was your attitude towards violence in your film?

      The violence in the story has to be given sufficient dramatic weight so that the moral dilemma it poses can be seen in the right context. It is absolutely essential that Alex is seen to be guilty of a terrible violence against society, so that when he is eventually transformed by the State into a harmless zombie you can reach a meaningful conclusion about the relative rights and wrongs. If we did not see Alex first as a brutal and merciless thug it would be too easy to agree that the State is involved in a worse evil in depriving him of his freedom to choose between good and evil. It must be clear that it is wrong to turn even unforgivably vicious criminals into vegetables.

        • What is your opinion about the increasing screen violence in recent years?

        There has always been violence in art. There is violence in the Bible, violence in Homer, violence in Shakespeare, and many psychiatrists believe that it serves as a catharsis rather than a model. I think the question of whether there has been an increase in screen violence and, if so, what effect this has had, is to a very great extent a media-defined issue. I know there are well-intentioned people who sincerely believe that films and TV contribute to violence, but almost all of the official studies of this question have concluded that there is no evidence to support this view. At the same time, I think the media tend to exploit the issue because it allows them to display and discuss the so-called harmful things from a lofty position of moral superiority. 

        I am also surprised at the extremely illogical distinction that is so often drawn between harmful violence and the so-called harmless violence of, say, "Tom and Jerry" cartoons or James Bond movies, where often sadistic violence is presented as unadulterated fun. I hasten to say, I don't think that they contribute to violence either. Films and TV are also convenient whipping boys for politicians because they allow them to look away from the social and economic causes of crime, about which they are either unwilling or unable to do anything.

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