Jens Eder Critique
Jens Eder, professor of Media and Communication studies at the University of Mannheim, explores the social impacts of the film in “Feelings in Conflict: A Clockwork Orange.” Eder comments on the films reception at the time of its release: “…in England, the film continued to be the object of a public campaign that ascribed negative social effects to it and made it responsible for copycat crimes, until Kubrick withdrew it from public distribution. Internationally, however, A Clockwork Orange won enthusiastic critical acclaim and several awards, proved a huge commercial success, and finally gained cult status”. This sort of divided reception illustrates the impact of the film on popular culture. Eder continues to examine how the choice of perception shapes the emotions of the viewer. The film features intense scenes of rape and “ultra-violence” and the director, Stanley Kubrick, chooses to film from Alex’s point of view. This creates a strange relationship between the viewer and Alex. Eder claims that the viewer might “become torn between antipathy and sympathy and might respond ambivalently to Alex’s experiences; they might detest his misdeeds, admire his coolness, and perhaps nurture some compassion”. One such example is how a rape scene “parades a sexual stimulus for many male viewers”.
This article by Eder’s illuminates the relationship and empathy the viewer has towards Alex but does not address how the Ludovico technique shapes consciousness. Eder is suggesting a crucial relationship that exists, in the film, between perception, consciousness, and empathy. The text allows the reader to disconnect from Alex’s point of view while the film does not. Kubrick’s choice of camera angles puts the viewer in the shoes of Alex which enables empathy.
The following image is shown from Alex’s perspective. In an interesting way the audience feels empowered relative to the old man. The medium of literature becomes less impacting in scenes such as this. The ability to put the book down, disconnect
Mario Falsetto’s “lens”
Another piece of film criticism, “Stanley Kubrick: A Narrative and Stylistic Analysis”, written by Mario Falsetto, observes the ways in which the film “represents the most consistent depiction of character subjectivity through visual distortion in Kubrick’s work”. Here the focus is again on how editing techniques elicit an emotional response in the viewer. It’s again suggested that there is a relationship between Alex and the audience. Point of view is used more effectively in the film compared to the first person narration of the book. Falsetto briefly mentions the Ludovico technique and chooses to discuss the scene in which a “cured” Alex is presented to an audience of medical professionals, government representatives, and the warden. Falsetto draws attention to the perceptual point of view as Alex is dominated by a “lardy like” man and then enticed by a topless woman. In Kubrick’s adaptation, both the scene with the “lardy” man and topless woman are filmed from Alex’s point of view. The viewer is given a clear perspective of Alex’s torment by the “lardy” man. Kubrick zooms in on the face of the man as well as his boots.
The topless woman’s face (image on the right) is seen at a upward angle as she seduces the sickly Alex. Scenes like this provide a strong connection between Alex and the viewer. The perspective then swivels to the audience as Alex is mocked and ridiculed. Although Falsetto provides important criticism for the film, the Ludovico technique is mentioned briefly. The relationship between visual perception and consciousness is explored only from the perspective of the audience.
Eder and Falsetto’s criticism ties heavily with Antonio Damasio‘s view of consciousness as the “movie-in-the-brain”. In The Feeling of What Happens, Damasio writes: “the first problem of consciousness is the problem of how we get a “movie-in-the-brain”, provided we realize that in this rough metaphor the movie has as many sensory tracks as our nervous system has sensory portals-sight, sound, taste, and olfaction, touch, inner senses, and so on.” Damasio see consciousness as a relationship between object and image. Object, in Damasio sense of the word, represents anything from a person, qualia, to even a hair comb. The image is defined as a “mental pattern in any of the sensor modalities,e.g., a sound image, a tactile, the image of a state of well-being.” The combination of the two results in the “movie-in-the-brain.” The Ludovico technique forces objects into the consciousness of Alex, resulting in a distorted movie.