A note by Maynard

This Sunday, December 5, at 7:30 PM, there will be a rare screening of Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 masterpiece, Barry Lyndon at Hollywood’s historic Egyptian Theatre. Click here for program details.

I thought this worth mentioning because Barry Lyndon is an amazingly powerful and sumptuous film. But its appeal is limited (meaning that most of you won’t be interested and should ignore this message). If this is for you, then you know who you are. You know you won’t find many chances to see this at such a great place.

Speaking of Kubrick…Barry Lyndon was his first film following 1971’s A Clockwork Orange. Anyone remember A Clockwork Orange? It was notorious and controversial in its day, and would still be so today. I hope I won’t offend anyone in mentioning it in a favorable light; I can understand how the themes do not sit well with some. And indeed, if I regarded the film as a real-life event, it wouldn’t sit well with me either. But Kubrick’s genius is to be able to transpose the horrific events depicted into an alternate reality. The future world envisioned here is inhabited less and less by human beings, and more and more by bureaucratic automatons. That’s how Malcolm McDowell’s anti-hero can be regarded, within the context of this film, as palatable. Or at least that’s the way I choose to look at it. But this is a personal choice, and I won’t argue with anyone that disagrees.

A Clockwork Orange has come to mind lately because of its Orwellian depictions. The bureaucrats hide behind a solicitous facade, but the reality is an unbridled and uncaring authority.

If I (Maynard) ran the world, I would pretty much leave people alone — but I would require them to face the consequences of their actions. A criminal like Alex would be summarily executed in my world. But what I wouldn’t do is try to program malefactors to be “good”.

Human beings are not to be programmed. We are not machines. We cannot be relieved of the burden of making moral choices, because that’s what makes us human. Please, kill me, but do not shackle me.

Someone once said it more eloquently: “Give me liberty, or give me death.” Maybe that, in a perverse way, is what A Clockwork Orange is all about.

There’s a scene in the middle of the film where a chorus of prisoners is ordered to sing a hymn by Horatius Bonar (“the prince of Scottish hymn writers”), “I Was A Wondering Sheep”. We hear these lines:

I was a wandering sheep,
I did not love the fold;
I did not love my Shepherd’s voice,
I would not be controlled.

I do not disparage the hymn. Control is God’s prerogative, and it’s in this context that the song is to be sung. But it is misused in a prison scenario.

Humanity struggles with the problem of evil. I can see the raw appeal of a Ludovico technique. But am I being paranoid in thinking that, in real life, Ludovico’s victims will end up being less like Alex and more like Maynard?

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tammy Bruce, PalinPromotions. PalinPromotions said: Los Angeles Screening of “Barry Lyndon”: A note by Maynard This Sunday, December 5, at 7:30 PM, there will be a … http://bit.ly/fhPBUb […]

  2. thierry says:

    ” a clockwork orange” the film was banned in the UK from 1973- 2000. this was mostly due not to concerns, and there were those, that it had inspired copy cat ‘ ultraviolence’, but because kubrick, having received death threats, insisted on it. the ban was lifted when he died.

    to the utter disgust of both the original author, anthony burgess, and the lead actor, malcolm mcdowell, kubrick had left the defense of “a clockwork orange” the film, which he had branded himself the sole writer of, to burgess . burgess was himself a christian who meant to, besides attacking b.f. skinner and behaviorism, expand on the topic of free will and christianity. if, after all ,god is the one who gave humans free will and never takes it away even when one is being evil or sinning- why is it that humans and humans in authority in particular are so fond of controlling even the most innocuous and non-threatening choices and actions of other humans? ( like , barry, whether they eat a salad or not…).

    “a clockwork orange” the book also has a long history of being banned. and also misunderstood both by ‘family values’ sorts and the kind of cretin who finds alex an ever so appealing anti-hero/role model BEFORE he is subjected to the Ludovico treatment.

    the point being ,of course ,that those applying the treatment are no different, no less criminal than the thug that was the ‘unreformed’ alex. perhaps they are even worse. how easy it is to stop an alex. how difficult it is to stop murderers and rapists when they are the ones in control of all authority and are not above taking away one’s free will by any means necessary for ‘ the good of the rest of society’.

    ” as a novella, a sort of allegory of Christian free will. Man is defined by his capacity to choose courses of moral action. If he chooses good, he must have the possibility of choosing evil instead. I was also saying that it is more acceptable for us to perform evil acts than to be conditioned into an ability only to perform what is socially acceptable”. burgess quoted in Guy Phelps, “Film Censorship”.

    “It was the dawn of the age of candid photography that enabled Kubrick to exploit, to a serious end , those elements of the story which were meant to shock morally rather than merely titillate… to tolchock a chelloveck in the kishkas does not sound so bad as booting an old man in the guts…But in a film little can be implied; everything has to be shown. Language ceases to be an opaque protection against being appalled and takes a very secondary place… The sheer power and brilliance of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange undoubtedly contributed to the outrage at the film. The images were so effective that many viewers were led to believe that the film was more explicitly violent than it was.”- anthony burgess

    eat your salad. vote for obama. strength through joy. have some apple slices. there are no death panels. vote democrat.

    • Maynard says:

      This free will thing is undeniably problematic. Why did God create evil, and why is it so delicious? We are all tempted, one way or another. But I’m not going to launch into the guts of this philosophical argument here.

      We need common rules, but not too many of them. Where to draw the line? How to draw the line? I’m a big fan of turf. My turf, my rules. Your turf, your rules. If I don’t like your rules, I won’t step onto your turf. Thus we get along, even if we disagree.

      Of course, there are limits. Our turfs cannot help but intersect. You build a fire on your turf, and the smoke drifts onto my turf. Who controls? Yes, endless tricky details. And of course we must protect children.

      It’s always possible to construct an argument as to why I must control you. Somehow we end up with a central authority telling you what sort of light bulb you can use, or how high the switch must be above floor level. Now that CO2 has been declared a toxic gas, I can control your breathing. All in a good cause, of course. If you breathe too much, you’re taking advantage of the system.

      By the way, your Snoopy icon brings to mind the image of Alex at the Korova Milk Bar.

      • thierry says:

        it’s easier for humans to create a mythic creature or abstract construct- at least something never actually present in the flesh to defend itself- like say a demon or a god- and project all their evil ,wicked, and vile, thoughts and actions as coming from it than to accept the fact that humans create evil for their own ends often for their own pleasure- sometimes just because they are bored. Evil is just an excuse and not a very good one for the profound failings of humans and the criminal deprivations of the human race as it feasts on the autonomy of others.

        the only reason government should exist is to protect its citizens- often from each other, sometimes from without. now we find ourselves scrambling to protect ourselves from the government. you beat up your neighbor, steal their car then the government can come in and stop your actions- seems simple enough. now you don’t eat salad and its off to the re-education camps because dear leader cares about you, man. don’t buy health insurance and you’re directly killing off adorable needy children with cancer with your bare hands. use salt in your restaurant and you’re breaking the law, nearly murdering people.

        the race baiting, the global warming hoax, the concept that adults must have their personal habits regulated for their own good, the propaganda that america is always evil, always the oppressor- all that is the’ ludovico technique’- only played out in the schools, universities and throughout the media. it’s been very effective. so effective the left is about to collapse on itself because they can’t comprehend how they came to this melt down and how barry isn’t what they projected onto him. we not only needed regime change in congress- i think we need cult de-programers . now al gore is admitting he lied. therapists and rolfers across the country must be so over booked.

        the snoopy icon IS alex from “a clockwork orange”. before you posted this entry the avatar of my actual face was repeatedly called ‘ evil looking’ like ‘ a clockwork orange’. i believe bart simpson also dressed up as alex but i prefer snoopy. “snoopy delarge” was available on one of those ‘for sale for only 24 hours’ t-shirt sites.


        there was a Korova Milk Bar in NYC i used to frequent in the early 2000s but it closed. thus is the influence of that book/movie on popular culture over 30 years on. they did not play classical music or wendy carlos which is a pity.

  3. JLThorpe says:

    Kubrick was, and probably still is, my favorite movie director, but Barry Lyndon was one of my least favorite films of his. I liked Clockwork Orange a bit better, but my favorite Kubrick films are 2001, The Shining, and Dr. Strangelove. I even saw 2001 in a NYC art theatre back in 2000, during a Kubrick film festival.

  4. MainelyRight says:

    Maynard, You’re right. Barry Lyndon does have a limited appeal. The story’s fine. The pace, however, is torturous to those used to a fast-paced flick. But in that pacing, I think, Kubrick is a genius. He captures the era perfectly. Since I’m a student of 17th and 18th century British and US history, I’m used to it and loved this film. But as my handle suggests, I won’t be anywhere near LA to watch this. I may, however, have to check out Netflix!!

  5. franknitti says:

    Kubrick’s two greatest films: A Clockwork Orange and Paths of Glory.

    “You’re not cured yet, boy.”

  6. radargeek says:

    This may not be the best channel to get ahold of you, but I haven’t been able to log on to Tammybruce.com for a couple of months now. I need technical help here.

    • Tammy says:

      radar, you have to be logged in to post a comment :/ But maybe you mean for the TAM material? I’ll have Rachael contact you. Plus I just emailed you…

  7. The Ugly American says:

    I *love* going to the Egyptian.

    A few months back I caught a screening of The Last Picture Show replete with a post question/answer session with direct Peter Bogdanovich …who cuts quite the charmingly, dry-witted figure in person.

    Cybill Shepherd was there but unfortunately Cloris Leachman did not attend.

    Still my all-time favorite screening was the original War of the Worlds with actors Gene Barry and Ann Robinson along with art director (designer of martian aircraft) Albert Nozaki.

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