ENGL240 - LCC- Free Will - Kubrick (Strangelove and Clockwork)

ENGL240 - LCC- Free Will - Kubrick (Strangelove and Clockwork)

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Free Will Within Societal Systems in Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove and Clockwork Orange It is completely presumptuous to claim to be able to truly understand a person’s motivations or opinions on a subject a broad as humanity and the systems we create. Even a highly trained psychoanalyst after years of work with an individual patient would have a tough time making that claim. So to claim to even have the slightest understanding of a person after simply viewing tiny fraction of his or her artistic output is ludicrous. With that in mind, let the lunacy begin. This paper will examine how Stanley Kubrick's films Dr Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb (1964) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) can be used to infer Kubrick’s views on the true nature of the human animal and the societal systems we create. To many viewers Kubrick's films present a window into the most terrible aspects of human nature. In Strangelove the world and presumably the human race is destroyed by nuclear fallout brought about by the pragmatism and planning of the 'greatest minds' of humanity. In Clockwork a teenager embodies the most contemptible instincts of man, or what Sigmund Freud referred to as the Id, raping and brutally beating anyone unfortunate enough to cross his path. The films are constructed in a way that disturbs many people because of the cold and calculating nature of the acts and the way they are portrayed on screen. To quote critic James Naremore: ”The montage of exploding nuclear bombs at the end of Dr. Strangelove [is shown] so that horror mingles with a sort of detached appreciation of the sublime beauty of sun, sky, and bursting clouds” (Naremore, 2). In Clockwork , gwhen Alex in A Clockwork Orange accompanies an evening of rape and 'ultravolence' with his rendition of gSingin f in the Rain, h one could argue that this conjunction is grotesque’ h (Naremore, 2) Many have pointed to these and other scenes and criticized Kubrick for espousing an extremely bleak view of human nature. This criticism dates back to his earliest commercial release, Paths of Glory. Upon analyzing the film, Calder Willingham claimed Kubrick possessed a “near psychopathic indifference to the coldness toward the human beings in the story”(Willingham in Naremore, 3).
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Concluding “[H]e doesn’t like people much; they interest him mainly when they do unspeakably hideous things or when their idiocy is so malignant as to be horrifyingly amusing” (Willingham in Naremore, 3). Feeding into this interpretation were many of the public statements Kubrick made at the time that seemed to confirm this assessment.“ Man isn't a noble savage
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