AFInity: A Clockwork Orange

By Kim Hollis

October 23, 2009

Probably not the best spokesperson for the Got Milk campaign.

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We're a list society. From Casey Kasem and the American Top 40 to 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die to BOP's very own Best Horror Films (one of our most popular features ever), people love to talk about lists. They love to debate the merits of the "winners" and bemoan the exclusions, and start the whole process again when a new list captures pop culture fancy.

Perhaps one of the best-known, most widely discussed lists is the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Movies. A non-profit organization known for its efforts at film restoration and screen education, the AFI list of the 100 best American movies was chosen by 1,500 leaders in the movie industry and announced in its first version in 1998. Since then, the 100 Years... 100 Movies list has proven to be so popular that the AFI came forth with a 10th anniversary edition in 2007, along with other series such as 100 Heroes and Villains, 100 Musicals, 100 Laughs and 100 Thrills.


In addition to talking about which films are deserving of being on the list and bitterly shaking our fists because a beloved film was left out, we also love to brag about the number of movies we've seen. As I was looking over the 100 Years... 100 Movies list recently, I realized that I've seen 47 - less than half. As a lover of film and writer/editor for a movie site, this seemed like a wrong that needed to remedied. And so an idea was born. I would watch all 100 movies on the 2007 10th Anniversary list - some of them for the first time in as much as 20 or more years - and ponder their relevance, worthiness and influence on today's film industry. With luck, I'll even discover a few new favorites along the way.

#70: A Clockwork Orange

It's been 20 years since I have seen this 1971 Stanley Kubrick feature. At the time, I had recently read the book on which it is based for a class on 20th century British literature and written a research paper about the thematic use of music in the novel. I decided to go ahead and watch the film adaptation to see how it compared, and I remember being blown away. To my mind, it was a spot-on rendition of author Anthony Burgess's work, perfectly capturing the atmosphere and characters. And yet, I never watched the film again until this week, despite having viewed other Kubrick pictures like The Shining, Paths of Glory, The Killing and Dr. Strangelove numerous times. The AFI lauds A Clockwork Orange on the 2007 version of its 100 Years... 100 Movies list (it appeared on the original as well) and also ranks it highly on 100 Years... 100 Thrills, 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, and has it as the #4 sci-fi film. Would I be as impressed by it today as I was when I was a more impressionable young lass?

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