Sample Essay

An essential element of the film explained by Kael in detail is the ingenious use of classical music to underscore a point “Long after we’ve got the point, the composi- composition is still telling us to appreciate its cleverness. This ponderous technique is hardly leavened by the structural use of classical music to characterize the sequences; each sequence is scored to Purcell (synthesized on a Moog), Rossini, or Beethoven, while Elgar and others are used for brief satiric effects” (Kael 1972). The manner in which Kael lays down prose upon magnificent prose, taking the reader from the front aisle of the cinema, to the pages of the original book (A Clockwork Orange by Burgess) and then to the (then) present world, where film as an art form was being conditioned to be more violent, aggressive and de-sensitizing. At various points throughout her critique, Kael uses her highly skilled intellectual capabilities, to deliver to the reader underlying assumptions as the back of any viewers mind if they were to watch the film as well. This critical thinking distinguishes Kael from the crowd of other acclaimed film critics.

At the conclusion of her essay, Kael maps out the emerging trend in Hollywood“At the movies, we are gradually being conditioned to accept violence as a sensual pleasure. The directors used to say they were showing us its real face and how ugly it was in order to sensitize us to its horrors. You don’t have to be very keen to see that they are now in fact de- sensitizing us. They are saying that everyone is brutal, and the heroes must be as brutal as the villains or they turn into fools” (Kael 1972). And continues the argument to its logical next step, in arguing for censorship for the sake of preventing brutality from being shown for the sake of brutality, and not censorship to prevent one from expressing his/her opinions.

Kael in a stroke of genius sums up her critique of A Clockwork Orange by juxtaposing the major aspect of Kubrick’s masterpiece to an emerging trend of unjustified gore in Hollywood by stating that “Yet surely, when night after night atrocities are served up to us as entertainment, it’s worth some anxiety. We become clockwork oranges if we accept all this pop culture without asking what’s in it. How can people go on talking about the dazzling brilliance of movies and not notice that the directors are sucking up to the thugs in the audience?” (Kael 1972). All movie going audiences in present times can vouch for Pauline Kael’s prophecy, unfortunately for common sense and sanity, being fulfilled.

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Essay: Essential Elements of the Film A Clockwork Orange
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