Trainspotting and A Clockwork Orange
I recently saw the movie “Trainspotting,” and noticed many eerie similarities between the film and “A Clockwork Orange.” You could write it all off as coincidence except for the fact that when the guys are in the nightclub where Rent Boy meets his underage lover: there is a room with black walls with (“Voloko” + something) written on them in the same font and style as the Moloko bar in ACO. Also, the shot there where it slowly zooms in to the guys is basically a reverse of Kubrick’s opening shot in ACO. So, given that the director/set designer directly references ACO, the similarities don’t seem all that coincidental!
“But Trainspotting was based on a book!” you say. “I’m sure the book didn’t have that shot in it!” This is true. And all these concurrences could be a matter of synchronicity. But I thought it would be interesting to point ’em out. So, here we go…
If you took Alex + gang from ACO and put them in the the present, substituted heroin for ultraviolence, and aged everyone 6 years, you would get Trainspotting. But it helps if you sort of see Trainspotting as a kind of “real-world” “sequel” to ACO, i.e. what happened to an older gang. ***If you don’t want spoilers, you might not want to read any further***
No, there isn’t a free will parable here, but there is the story of Rent Boy’s “rehabilitation.” And in the end, he is presumably “cured,” although not in the sense that Alex was “cured” at the end of the ACO film….. 😀
Both heroes self-narrate (in the films).
Now, if you compare this to the book version of ACO (21st Chapter included), there is an interesting parallel. The point of Chapter 21 is that Alex chose by himself, on his own free will, to stop his ultraviolence, in contrast to the Ludovico Technique, which uses drugs and conditioning with involuntary reflexes to do so. In Trainspotting, Rent Boy is on a government-provided program to quit heroin, but everyone remarks on its ineffectiveness, etc. and his parents eventually force him to get clean cold turkey, putting him through horrible hallucinations, etc. But in the end, he is clean. This is not a direct correlation, it’s more different than similar; also, the government program is an actual thing in the UK and the film was probably meant more to criticize that than to mirror ACO. But you can still see a similarity between “natural” decision/therapy and “artificial.”