After many years, I was finally able to finish the entirety of A Clockwork Orange (the film) without so much as flinching. Desensitized much? Perhaps.
Many film critics have applied a psychoanalytic lens to the film, and with reason; sexual deviancy abounds. Not simply the chaotic imagery but more poignantly, the feeling of utter helplessness is inexorable. As the priest said to Alex, when the power of choice is lost, humanity goes with it. Hence, rape and imprisonment as prime examples of dehumanization.
For me, though, the film’s real genius is how it serves as a covert litmus test for true sociopathology: Only a true sociopath can watch everything that was done to Alex after his arrest with a certain amount of glee or perverse sense of righteousness. To think: that face that is so terrifying for the first half of the film, can inspire such pity in the second. Or at least, with me. That it can take me through a spectrum of emotions while inducing the same nausea that Alex was subjected to (OK, so I lied, I’m not impervious) is a testament to its indelibility in cinema.