Stanley Kubrik’s film or Anthony Burgess’ Novel?

Both the film and novel offer audiences different views of the story. // Photo Courtesy: Sara Saw A Movie

One Doesn’t Justify The Other

Both the movie and book of A Clockwork Orange are considered classics. They explore controversial subject matter in an experimental way and are each so unique in their own respective manner, that they have captured the attention of many. What’s so special about this story though, and is it worth experiencing both forms in which it has been told?

The most distinct thing about A Clockwork Orange is the strange dialect its characters speak in. The book requires the reader to almost learn a new language, checking the glossary or brute forced meaning out of the words on the page in front of them. This has helped to make the book and movie as iconic as they are and will be relevant later into this article. The Clockwork Orange movie and book are very similar, with many scenes including almost word for word identical dialogue. The book is rather short, so the movie was able to include the majority of its key scenes without having to change anything major. This is both good and bad, since it means that not many sacrifices had to be made in this adaptation, but also means that both viewing the film and reading the book feels a bit redundant.

The few scenes deemed unimportant enough to not make it into the film are unimportant enough to not necessitate reading the book at all. The only reason to watch the movie after reading the book is really to visualize the exact scenes that were in the book, and there’s practically no reason to read the book after watching the movie unless the movie made such a strong impact that re-experiencing it in literary form seems appealing. The most notable exception to this similarity is the film’s heavy emphasis on sexual imagery. Much of the setting included sexually explicit paintings and statues that weren’t described at all in the book. Outside of the occasional reference to the old in-and-out horror show goodies, the book’s focus wasn’t on its sexual elements as much as the movie was.

As mentioned previously, there’s the issue of language between the two. The strange dialect spoken by the characters in the movie is the way that everything is described in the book. For many scenes, the reader is forced to piece together what’s happening using the knowledge that they have of the dialect. This makes the book unique, and this experience is missing from the movie since the images are right on the screen instead of in text form on a page. Despite its uniqueness, this way of reading feels more like a gimmick than anything with real artistic value and makes the book a much slower read than it deserves to be.

The movie and book of A Clockwork Orange are good, but not so good that it justifies experiencing both. If reading seems more appealing, read the book. Otherwise, skip the book and watch the movie. It saves plenty of time that could be spent reading other, better books and movies.

This article is from Volume 07 Issue 05:

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