3. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
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.
In Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, adapted from Anthony Burgess’ novel, we find ourselves sympathizing with a very, very bad guy: a robber, a rapist, a murderer… full of the ultra-violence. How can we do that? Is it because we always feel the need to connect with our protagonists? I suppose, if we didn’t at least empathize, we wouldn’t care what happened to them. And if we don’t care, why would we want to keep watching? Sure, Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is a psychopath, but he’s also smart, charming, and witty; you can’t help but be drawn in by him, especially when he becomes victim to Burgess’s Pavlovian equivalent to Pavlov’s classical conditioning – being turned into a “good little boy,” or more accurately a machine no longer capable of moral choice.