Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Clockwork Orange

Great movies always give me goosebumps. I guess it does for everybody. But the concept of what makes a movie great differs from person to person. I usually prefer offbeat movies, movies which are slow, with a heavy theme, intense characters, subtle undertones....the list is endless.

A Clockwork Orange is one such movie which I chanced upon in college. The opportunity cost of watching a two hours fifteen minutes when there was test hanging on my head the next day was pretty high. But boy! was it worth the time or what!! One of Stanley Kubrick's masterpieces was released in 1971 based on the controversial book of the same name by Anthony Burgess.

The name of the movie sounds queer, isnt it? What does cloclwork orange mean? The title probably was inspired by
a common East London phrase, "as queer as a clockwork orange" - indicating something bizarre internally, but appearing natural, human, and normal on the surface. The movie goes with the tagline "Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven." And indeed it does! Graphic violence, vouyeristic sex, dysfunctional teens, mindless crime and dehumanization of criminals....all packeaged into two hours of intense filmmaking. It blows your mind.

The frightening, chilling and tantalizing film raises many thematic questions and presents a thought-provoking parable: How can evil be eradicated in modern society? If the state can deprive an individual of his free will, making him 'a clockwork orange,' what does this say about the nightmarish, behavioral modification technologies of punishment and crime? Do we lose our humanity if we are deprived of the free-will choice between good and evil?

The movie set in futuristic England tells us the story of Alex de Large
(Malcolm McDowell) and his droogs. The opening memorable image is an intimate closeup of the blue staring eyes and smirking face of Alex wearing a bowler hat and with one false eyelash (upper and lower) adorning his right eye . His cufflinks and suspenders are ornamentally decorated with a bloody, ripped-out eyeball.

"There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence."

Their escapades know no bounds. From torturing a old drunkard lying on the sidewalk while singing Molly Malone, to having a gang war with the with Billyboy and his droogs, enjoying the country air in a stolen Durango-95 and the ghstly rape of the elderly Mrs.Alexander.
Mr. Alexander is assaulted and kicked on the floor by Alex who ironically punctuates his rhythmic, soft-shoe kick-dance with the lyrics of "Singin' in the Rain." The scene is one of the most disturbing scenes in the film, with its juxtaposition of the familiar lyrics of playful music from a classic film with slapstick comedy, brutality and horrible ultra-violence:

I'm singin' in the rain, Just singin' in the rain...
What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again..
I'm laughing at clouds, so dark up above..
The sun's in my heart, and I'm ready for love.

Let the stormy clouds chase, Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain, I've a smile on my face.
I'll walk down the lane, With a happy refrain

And I'm singin', just singin' in the rain.

All this harmony among the group members is broken when two of his droogs take offence to Alex's overdominace over the group. So when the guys are again on one of their violent sprees, Alex is made the target of their scorn. The murder of the catwoman by Alex using a Beethoven bust turns out to be the turning point of his life. Betrayed by his friends Alex lands into the hands of the police. There inspired by the chaplin to pick up the Bible, Alex relishes the violent bits of the old and new testaments and fantasizes himself to the Roman soldier torturing Jesus to his crucification.

When there is an open offer, for a crimnal rehabilitation program Alex volunteers to get himslelf out of the prison. Fed with an experimental serum, he is forced to watch clips of high violence and pain, with his eyes clamped, straight jacketed and helpless. These repeated images of blood, gore, genocide and rape are shown with Alex's favourite music Beethoven's Fifth symphony played in the background.

"Very soon now, the drug will cause the subject to experience a death-like paralysis, together with deep feelings of terror and helplessness. One of our early test subjects described it as being like death, a sense of stifling or drowning, and it is during this period we have found that the subject will make his most rewarding associations between his catastrophic experience-environment and the violence he sees"

Made "a free man" and trained to become docile and harmless, Alex is destructively robbed of his individuality, personality and humanity by being transformed into a 'clockwork orange' - a compliant and mind-numbed citizen. He is displayed in front of curious audience as a reformed item who now would not hit back at a middleaged homosexual yelling at him or would not be aroused by a shapely naked young female.

He walks back a reformed man, only to find that society thinks otherwise. All his old sins come back to haunt him, his family, the old droogs who are now cops, the old beggar on the road and finally to Mr. Alexander. Fate takes him back to the husband whose wife was raped and murdered infront of him
, the husband who drives him to commit suicide. But Alex fails to kill himself and lands up in the hospital all bandaged and wound. Only this time to be manipulated by the goverment minister who uses Alex to prove that the government program was a huge success.

Thus ends the movie. It ends throwing open a lot of questions. Questions about teenage violence, families, the police, rehabilitation of criminals and society as a whole. And the answers? Kubrick leaves them open for the viewers and the society to find........

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Free Time??!??

My Schedule for this week.

Tests and assignments:
11th - A Probable quiz by SD on hypothesis testsing. 10 mins. Make template.
12th - Submit People and Performance assignnment - Kirk Stone Case
13th - Opearations Management Test - 4 Chapters from Chase and 1 by Fitzsimmons
14th - IT in Business - Level 1 and 2 DFD groupwork submission
15th - Communication Skills - Report writing assignement ( 25% weightage out of full course credit)
16th - IT in Business - Test on chapter 9. Possible inclusion of chapter 3?
16th - Macro Economics - Saturday quiz
17th - Opearations Management - Assignment submission - Computering Clearing case

Macro Economics - India 2020 case : next week date unsure
Marketting - Sector analysis - IT Hardware : next week date unsure

People and performance - one quiz and mid term in the next ten days.
Opearations Management - 3rd test expected shortly after the 2nd test on 13th.
Quantitave Methods - Expect a quiz almost everyday afternoon.

Normal pre-reads for all classes.

Commiittee work:
Finish concept paper for BhavITva (slated on Nov 25th),
Finish mail ID creation formalities.
Tuesday commiittee meeting : Prepare points
Contact NASSCOMM for Western area head. Pitch for Kiran Karnik.
Meet Joint Director for further inputs.

GaSP: ( Guild of actors @ SP)
Meet Uma Narayan for script
GaSP meet for deciding play and core commiittiee formation.

What is free time? no idea sir! Havent seen it in this part of world for a long time now.

Monday, September 04, 2006

An ode to good ole whiskey !

As an initial disclaimer let me categorically state that I do not drink and whiskey here has got nothing to do with alcohol! Whiskey is my friend. Lets call this good friend of mine X. ( duhhh... I cant gv u the real name! ) . So whiskey is like a secret identity thingy that X has and its a lil secret only we share. More like Calvin and Spaceman Spiff ! :)

So this whiskey character was quite a new being and was an instant hit between both of us. And when you have a unrelenting B school breathing down your neck, pushing you to your hiertho unknown limits of endurance, its only such little joys in life that make your existence meaningful. The crux of the issue was that Whiskey was funny. The origin of the chareacter was funny.The whole damn concept was funny. And boy! did we laugh along with it or what! Till tears ran down our cheeks and stomachs pained with all the incessant howling. We found something to help us break free and clinged onto it. We were on a mindless high.

Now you might be wondereing what the hell is all this about. What it is about, my friend, is should one let go of all senses when he/she is on a high or try to bring in bring in rationale and common sense what ever state one is in. If you are looking before you leap even when you are on a mindless emotional frenzy I guess it doesnt make much sense right? I mean, if you tried to get in common sense there, it wouldnt have been a frenzy in the first place!! So there we were in this zone, laughing at even the silliest reason, trying to make sense out of random senteces and having a ball of a time. And it was in this zone that I told something which I shouldnt have. It was in a flow of chaos and I just pandered to the thought. And it turned out to be a big mistake, cause X took it badly. X knew that I hadnt meant to be derogatory, but the fact remained that the statement I made was acerbic and it hurt. It wasnt even one of those stupid mistakes which you realise you have made the moment it comes out of your mouth. It just happened! And I take full responsibility for my mistake.

I feel life is such a big turncoat. There we were one moment, at the peak of talking gibberish and having fun and the next moment it comes crashing down to an ackward silence. Its not fair. People should not be made resposible for what they say when they are not thinking about what they are saying. I feel that. But the truth, unfortunately turns out to be the exact opposite. It DOES matter what you say and people DO get offended by what you say. I realized that at a cost. The cost of not getting to share awesome fun with Whiskey anymore!!! Well, I am lucky X decided tht it will be the end of Whiskey and not the whole friendship as a whole. Uff! narrow miss. Well, I guess its one more lesson life has taught me.

RIP Whiskey! I will miss ya. :(

P.S : It reminds me of strip where Susie goes "Sticks and stones may break my bone but words never will" and then realises the truth. God! I feel there is a CnH strip made for every situation possible in life.