Stanley Kubrick is, & among other things, a quality-control freak, and in the interest of precisely preserving these films’ color designs and picture clarity, the director has personally supervised new video transfers for cassette and disc reissues. The tape versions look great, but they don’t have the discs’ hallucinatory vividness — or show as clearly how Kubrick’s obsession with photographic verisimilitude can sometimes suck the life out of his movies.
A Clockwork Orange, a repulsive vision of a violent future society, escapes this sterility because Malcolm McDowell, as a psychopathic thug forcibly rehabilitated by scientists, radiates such perverse charm. The humanity he projects even through the vilest actions is what makes the clinical imagery around him compelling. A-