Friday, February 5, 2016

A bit of the old ultra-violence


Speaking of Paris, and speaking of films, I remember that it was in Paris that I saw Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange for the first time (the title of this post is one of the central character's catch-phrases). This was 1986, and even though the film was more than ten years old by that point, Kubrick had refused to allow it to be seen in Britain after the furor cretaed by its initial release. So it was that I was strolling along the Rue de la Huchette on the left bank (I think it was there), and crammed in amid the bars, creperies, and porn shops was a small cinema showing A Clockwork Orange.

It was one of those places that mainly showed the same two or three films every day, a few times a day -- there were a few like that in Paris back then -- just like the porn places that surrounded it. After I bought my ticket at the tiny guichet and entered the cinema, it continued to feel like I was entering a place that I should feel guilty about. It was a narrow room with only about ten rows of seedy looking seats. I watched A Clockwork Orange with about three other people, all of us sitting as far apart from each other as we could in that small space. My memory of seeing the film is that I thought it was not bad, a decent document of the fashions and social concerns of early 1970s Britain, and that all the violence and the raping was so stylised and childish that I couldn't believe it had caused so much shock and offence.

But mainly I remember the cinema, and the worn and stained seats, and the walls covered with heavy black and red drapes, and the closeness of the screen, and the cold winter air of the Paris night when the film was over and I returned to the street.

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