Elements of Persuasion in the Films of Stanley KubrickHome

Elements of Persuasion in the Films of Stanley Kubrick
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Elements of Persuasion in the Films of Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick's is considered by many to be among the finest filmmakers of our age. His work is at once visually stunning and intellectually challenging.

Part of the challenge in deciphering Kubrick's message is understanding the role his characters portray. A unified theme can be seen: the attempt by the guilty to blame other for their crimes.

This essay examines this thematic underpinning in three of Kubrick's best works.

Elements of Persuasion in the Films of Stanley Kubrick:
Doctor Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange

- A Clockwork Orange

- Doctor Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb

- 2001: A Space Odyssey

The art of motion picture production is - in itself - an exercise in pure persuasion. Consider: we are asking a group of people crowded about a screen to suspend their disbelief and agree with us that the story that is unfolding before them is, in fact, true in its context, linear in its construct, and rational in its development. Even a cursory examination in film structure and production reveals that what we are seeing is nothing more than a clever lie: a falsehood that has been given - by the sheer quality of its craftsmanship - the appearance of "reality".

The films of Stanley Kubrick, while employing the same persuasion techniques basic to any film production - set, setting, editing, scoring, foley, and a basic assumption that the audience will suspend its disbelief - exhibit methods of persuasion peculiar to the artist. Various psychological forms are used again and again, through many of Kubrick's works, often to make the same point or to raise similar issues.

In this examination we will focus on three of Kubrick's best films: Doctor Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange. Throughout these three films the artist develops a similar theme: the denial of responsibility (Aposiopesis) through the blaming of others (Scapegoat Technique). As we shall see, the protagonists in all three films justify their heinous actions through canny uses of Aporia, Oxymoron, Interrogatio, and The Big Lie. It's invariably someone else's fault; clearly, logically, and irrefutably.

To suggest otherwise would be considered madness.


Clouds shroud the icy peaks of northern Siberia. Beneath the clouds lies a great mystery.

With these words begins Doctor Strangelove, a journey into the very heart of madness. When Kubrick first took up the project, he had intended to make a straight-forward film about the possibility of an accidental nuclear cataclysm.

Nuclear war - at least in the bitterly analytical Kubrickian Universe - was absurdly mad; and what better way to display madness than through the devices of humor?

In order to effectively disarm any incredulity on the part of his audience and draw them unsuspectingly into his demesne, Kubrick used dissimulation to lull them into acceptance that, yes, world leaders really are this silly and stupid, and given the nature of the leadership, this event is possible in our imperfect world. Thus the nature of the beast takes on a sinister foreboding that tends to chill the viewer, while at the same time eliciting snickers and guffaws.

Consider: General Jack D. Ripper of Burpelson Air Force Base has ordered his wing of B-52s to attack Russia. The reason? He suffered impotence that he attributed to a pollution of his "precious bodily fluids" by fluoridation, "the most monstrously conceived and dangerous commie plot we have ever had to face".

A real nuclear war based on real international reasoning? Hardly likely, yet a real war nonetheless, based on one man's sexual paranoia.

Ripper calls his second-in-command. Kubrick uses interrogatio to lead to the revelation:

The first intimation to Ripper's mentality is delivered. After Ripper informs Mandrake of his decision, and gives the order to impound all radios, the announcer returns and describes - in clinical precision - the role of the B-52 in America's strategic defense.

Good enough. It sounds true, military, clean and neat. But, in order to suggest that the madness extends far beyond Ripper's domain, Kubrick follows this with a shot of Major Kong, the pilot of a B-52 flying at its fail-safe point outside Russian airspace. When we first see him, he is shown in close-up, looking down. We assume that he is either reading instruments or a technical manual. The camera slowly pulls back to reveal that the Major is in fact reading Playboy.

Kubrick begins to spin his web of aporia, using dissimulation to drive home the wedge of suspicion in the mind of the viewer that everyone in this universe is mad.

The message comes in: Wing Attack Plan R - R for Romeo; a contingency plan devised in the event leadership in Washington - read "President" - is taken out be an attack. Kong's reaction:

Here, trivial events are juxtaposed (enantiosis) in an emotional fashion (erotesis) with the serious prospect of nuclear combat, the result being the trivializing of the latter. After the radio officer convinces Kong that the message is real, Kong opens a safe, puts on a cowboy hat, and says:

At this point the music begins a military march arrangement of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again," obvious irony to the fact that - if the event were real - Johnny wouldn't have a home to march off to.

Many of the psychological forms of persuasion work together in tandem. Kong's next act - a speech to bolster the morale of his frightened crew - is an example of this. Most SAC personnel, while highly trained for the event of nuclear war, will still respond with basic human fear at the real prospect of such a conflict. Kong attempts, through anacoenesis, band wagon, and common ground to bolster their courage. The result fails to convince on a human level, mostly due to the obvious use of periphrasis and the irony of his statements. However, since his audience is already primed as military beings, it has its effect.

The scene shifts to the bedroom of General Buck Turgidson, an oversexed military simpleton brilliantly played by George C. Scott. His name - as do all the names in this film - is a metaphor, given force through dissimulation, on the nature of his character. He has just been told by a colleague that he must interrupt his sexual liaison with his secretary and get to the War Room to deal with Ripper's actions. His response drips with alliteration:

Is anyone sane?

Ripper, meanwhile, has taken Mandrake hostage. After he delivers a speech to his base on the public address system, wherein he creates doubt (aporia) about the enemy with the statement, "Your commie has no regard for human life, not even his own", he proceeds to explain his actions to his captive. In the best Kubrickian sarcasm he states, "Mandrake, I suppose it hasn't occurred to you, that while we're chatting here so enjoyably..." and proceeds to give Mandrake an accounting.

Kubrick's sarcasm has a far greater role than merely a comic device.

Kubrick has built his entire universe on a satiric foundation that weds sarcasm and irony with dissimulation in an all-pervading theme of man's inability to deal with those elements within himself that recall the beast. "Are we crazy enough to destroy ourselves?" The question is asked with a satiric grin and a sarcastic twinkle in the eye. Unspoken is the true question: "Are we sane enough not to?" It therefore becomes impossible to discuss persuasion as regards this work without understanding its satiric, sarcastic, ironic base.

Meanwhile, Mandrake is becoming painfully aware of the depth of Ripper's insanity in the following exchange, Kubrick here using hyperbole and epiphonema:

By this time Turgidson and Muffley are ensconced in the War Room, discussing the crisis. Muffley is incredulous; Turgidson barely conceals his contempt at his "boss'" lack of military savvy. After Turgidson has explained that Ripper has ordered the wing to attack Russia, Muffley says,

Through anastrophe, Kubrick holds the main point of this exchange -the "true" nature of Ripper's actions - to the end. The conversation, as do all that ensue in the War Room, reeks of understatement. In a subtle use of dissimulation and oxymoron, Kubrick places a ring-binder notebook before Turgidson with the following title along its spine, "WORLD TARGETS IN MAGADEATHS".

Turgidson then relays the transcript of a call from Ripper to Muffley. The madness of the statement is expressed through the use of apostrophe:

Turgidson's last statement, a use of aposiopesis, reflects the barren nature of his one-dimensional thinking. This device is used again in the following exchange:

As events approach resolution and the situation becomes more dire, we begin to see the injection of rationalization into the discourse. The warriors begin to explain themselves, and suggest actions that follow their thinking. In order to sell these actions, they use emotional appeals that barely flirt with true reason:

The misunderstanding of the nature of war - a result of the divergent character and background of the conversants - is set off here by use of oxymoron; juxtaposing the moral differences in the thoughts of both men.

Oxymoron is also used - to an extent with apostrophe - in the presence of a banquet table in the War Room, from which the Russian Embassador orders poached eggs (they must be fresh eggs - he haggles over this point with one of the bureaucratic flunkies that populate Muffley's corner of the War Room) before sitting down to deal with the "trivial" matter at hand.

Muffley then must call up the Russian Premier, Dimitri Kissoff, whom he interrupts - as was Turgidson - from an evening of sexual revelry. The following exchange utilizes dissimulation and aposiopesis to reveal the incompetence of both leaders (the pauses in the conversation infer Kissoff's lines:

The conversation ends in irony:

The irony here is in the double-meaning of the word "sorry". While both men profess to be "sorry" over the incident, their quibbling proves them to be "sorry" leaders of the two most powerful countries in the world: they are both commenting on their emotional condition and the pathetic means of conflict resolution.

Muffley hands the phone off to the Russian Embassador, who is told by Kissoff that the Soviets have activated the Doomsday Machine, a "self-defense" mechanism that is intended to be a deterrent: when a nuclear bomb destroys a Russian target, a computer detonates a series of warheads containing cobol-thorium-G - with a radioactive half-life of 93 years - which creates a Doomsday Shroud that envelopes the earth and renders it lifeless.

Meanwhile, Ripper has been haranguing Mandrake at Burpelson Air Force Base while outside members of a nearby Army Base are trying to invade and take control from him - they are seen fighting with rifles and machine guns in front of billboards that ironically bear the legend "Peace Is Our Profession" - oxymoron. In the following exchange, Kubrick utilizes interrogatio, aporia, rationalization, the big lie, and the first glimmer of scapegoat technique, a method utilized by all the protagonists in the three films we are examining to deflect responsibility for their actions.

The madness is almost complete. In the three legs of the triad - Burpelson, the War Room, the B-52 - events careen forward with increasingly dizzying pace, moving towards the ultimate resolution. We all know it's coming. We somehow hoped it would be more honorable.

Through effective use of cacophony, Kubrick heightens this dizzying pace in three areas: the armed attack on Burpelson, a failed missile attack on the B-52, and the final nuclear conflagration. The first two are photographed using hand-held cameras and short lenses, which serves to disorient the viewer and lend an air of news-like authenticity to the events. They therefore take on a realistic aspect, and in this sense these two sequences - while furthering the overall theme of madness - tend to be the only truly sane events in the film: sane in the sense that, thanks to the film technique utilized by Kubrick, they transfer to us authenticity through our experiences in viewing similar footage on nightly newscasts.

The Army eventually succeeds in securing the Burpelson, Ripper commits suicide to avoid torture, and Mandrake is taken prisoner by Colonel "Bat" Guano, who believes the British officer is a "prevert" by virtue of his odd uniform. Mandrake is incensed: he has finally managed to figure out the Recall Code which will bring the planes back from Russia. He attempts, through reasonable methods, to explain this to Guano. He finally resorts to threats through erotesis:

Ironically, Mandrake doesn't have enough change to make the call from the pay phone - all other phone lines are dead - and Guano must shoot the coin box out of a Coke machine to secure the correct amount.

The planes are recalled, and Turgidson delivers the following bit of hyperbole in an obviously phony attempt at piety:

However, the radio in Kong's plane was damaged in the missile attack, and they succeed in dropping their payload, thus triggering the Doomsday Machine and destroying the world. The film closes with various shots of nuclear detonations to the music "We'll Meet Again".

The irony is complete.

The scope of Kubrick's next film reveals a universe that is leaner, cleaner, and sparser than that if its predecessor. 2001: A Space Odyssey attempts to deal with the entire history of the human race in one big, bold cinematic sweep. Interestingly, Kubrick calls upon many of the same persuasive elements that he utilized in previous films, the notable exception being dissimulation.

We begin with an allegory: The Dawn of Man. We see ape-men eking out a sorry existence on some desert plain. They are primarily vegetarians, sharing resources with other species as well as other hominids. They must struggle for their sustenance; a battle over a watering-hole with rival apes sets up the resolving conflict of this segment.

Suddenly - and without explanation - an obelisk appears. The apes examine this obelisk. No explanation is given, but the leader of the ape community begins to display intelligence. He learns to use a bone as a weapon - the first tool - and he and his "tribe" regain the watering-hole from their rival apes through use of their superior technology.

This sequence, while being a blatant allegory on the origin of man's intelligence - alien-bestowed rather than evolutionary - reeks of hyperbole. The very suggestion that our intelligence is "alien" in nature seems to indicate that we are not what we seem. That we are really the children of a higher species - at least intellectually, if not physically. The mere suggestion of this concept would draw derision from viewers were it not dealt with in an extremely realistic nature by Kubrick, using atmosphere effect to draw us into his universe and - again - impel us to suspend our disbelief. The big lie nature of this theory, compared both to evolutionary and creation theory, tend to spell out Kubrick's fabrication in the broadest possible terms. The lie is therefore big enough to carry us through his concept.

We immediately and dramatically shift our perspective forward in time to the year 2000. Doctor Heywood Floyd is travelling to the moon to inspect an exact replica of the pleistocene monolith that has been unearthed on the dark side of the moon. Atmosphere effect is used here to establish the nature of this future universe: space travel is commonplace, man is living and working on the moon. Through music and extraordinary photography, Kubrick defines our surroundings.

In order to protect their discovery from a possible information leak, the Council has order the moon base Clavius to cut off all communication with the outside world. Floyd explains the reasons for this decision with the concerned members of the Clavius team in a speech that utilizes aposiopesis, prolepsis, and periphrasis in classic bureaucratic fashion.

Of course, if there are questions, Kubrick does not allow us to hear them. we jump right away to another atmosphere effect in the journey from Clavius to TMA-1, the site of the obelisk. Kubrick's use of special effects to create atmosphere is a

When Floyd and his team examine the monolith on the surface of the moon, the sun hits it for the first time, and it emits a strong radio signal to Jupiter. The action immediately cuts to the Jupiter Mission, 18 months later. For the first time Kubrick indulges in even the most cursory character development, as we witness the relationship between Bowman and Poole - astronauts aboard Discovery, and the HAL-9000 computer, whom one "affectionately addresses" as "Hal", an obvious personification.

Hal is described for us through aposiopesis and enantiosis by a BBC interviewer:

Is Hal truly human? This statement foreshadows Hal's statements about himself:

This statement sets up two things: 1. HAL's error, and 2. His attribution of this error to "Human Error." As we noted in Doctor Strangelove, Kubrick routinely uses the big lie to set up the actions of his protagonists, and the scapegoat technique to rationalize those actions by blaming them on others.

Hal - the computer brain of Discovery, oversees "all aspects of ship operation". He must maintain life support - not only for the conscious members of the crew, but for three hibernating members - maintain contact with earth, pilot the ship on its correct course, even engage in maintain psychological profiles of the crew - everyone but himself, it seems. He is engaging in one such "examination" of Dave Bowman when he asks him how he feels about the mission. Dave responds, "How do you mean?" Hal lapses into anacoenesis in his response:

Dave sees through the ruse, at which time Hal admits he's "working up his crew psychological profile". Hal, sensing a threat from Dave, says, "Just a minute, just a minute," - an obvious use of apostrophe - and begins to put a plan into place that would eliminate all possibility of "human error" in the mission: the deaths of the entire crew.

Hal picks up a fault in the AE-35 unit, the device which make communication with earth possible. After retrieving the unit in an EVA, Frank and Dave can find nothing wrong with it. Ground Control informs the crew that their twin HAL-9000 did not replicate the fault, and they suspect that Hal is in error is picking up the fault. The conversation between Hal, Frank and Dave that follows displays uses of interrogatio, aporia - doubting Hal's abilities - the big lie - Hal's excuses - and the first glimmer of the scapegoat technique, used so effectively by Ripper and here again by Hal.

Interestingly enough, Frank is the first one HAL will kill when he commits his "human error-" incited rampage.

Frank and Dave decide to return the AE-35 unit and let it fail, thus locating the problem. If it doesn't fail, then they will have to disconnect Hal. But, Frank senses something far deeper than computer error. He says, in his conversation with Dave away from Hal's hearing, "Look Dave. I can't put my finger on it, but I sense something strange about him," a use of aposiopesis.

Sensing something strange about a computer? Maybe the madness of Doctor Strangelove has travelled ahead in time. They have given Hal human attributes (personification):

As we shall see, what Hal thinks about it is precisely the point.

When Frank returns the AE-35 unit to the dish in an EVA, Hal turns on him and kills him. Dave, not knowing Hal was the perpetrator, goes out on an EVA to retrieve Frank, but forgets to bring his helmet. While he is away, Hal kills the three hibernating crew members.

When Dave returns to Discovery with the dead Frank Poole, Hal rationalizes his behavior in an attempt to deny Dave access to the ship. Dave attempts direct suggestion on Hal, sufficient for all normal computers, then - when his situation becomes grave - he resorts to negative suggestion:

Dave is in trouble, and he knows it.

After releasing Frank's body, Dave manages to return to the ship through the emergency air lock, sans helmet. He then proceeds to unplug Hal, shutting off his higher brain functions and leaving him a functionable vegetable, able only to maintain ship's systems. Various methods of persuasion are utilized by Hal to get Dave to stop; they are noted in the dialog that follows:


the big lie

common ground

The finals moments of Hal's conscious existence include examples of epanaphora - graceful repetition of Hal's plea - prosopopeia - Hal's fear - and oxymoron - "Daisy". While this scene is photographed in a cold and analytical fashion, Hal's pleas to Dave, and their persuasive elements, lend the scene an overpowering dramatic presence. We weep for Hal, while we understand and accept his punishment. Yet, in his "mind" - like Ripper before him and Alex to follow - his action are not his fault: he looks to others to bear the burden of the outcome of his moral choices.

In A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick takes this notion of unaccountable violence to it zenith. The protagonist in this film, Alex deLarge, is a young (in the book he's 14) member of a gang of hoodlums that get their kicks by drinking milk laced with hallucinogens and roaming the streets in search of victims on which to perpetrate their "ultra-violence".

Alex is the narrator, and his tone is very matter-of-fact. Even though he is scum, he immediately sets a plain folks rapport with the audience that serves him later of in the film when fortunes turn against him.

The beginning of the film is filled with the violent images and actions of the "droogs" (Nadsat for friend). They beat up an old drunk. Engage in a cacophonous brawl with a Billyboy's droogs -a rival gang - in a derelict casino to Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie" (the background score); Billyboy and his friends in the processing of raping a young girl. Steal a sports car and drive through the countryside, playing "hogs of the road", running all other drivers off the road. And, in the final scene of this "introduction", they invade the home of an author, beating him until he's crippled and forcing him to watch as they brutally rape his wife (she later dies of complications). This section uses cacophony and atmosphere effect to establish 1. the feeling of the times and 2. the moral nature of Alex.

Once this violent rampage is finished, Alex returns home where he relaxes from his "evening of slight energy expenditure" by listening to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. While he listens, he also fantasizes images of violence; some reviewers and commentators suggest that he masturbates during this sequence, but that is not clear. 5. As Alex listens, he engages in orgiastic hyperbole.

Is Alex the beast we believe? Can one so violent truly appreciate great art, like Beethoven? Is Alex some latter-day pop, iconoclastic artist in his own right? Kubrick's film-length anastrophe holds judgement on this point, which forces the viewer to come up with his own ideas as the film progresses; we find our focus shifting, from revulsion to fascination. We are the voyeurs, and Alex is the victim of our infatuation.

At least so it seems at this point.

Alex explains to his parents, as revealed by their conversation around the breakfast table after em's failed effort to wake Alex the following morning, that he does "mostly odd things [at night]...helping like...here and there as it might be." The big lie, given by Alex, to explain his behavior. However, there is yet some truth in this, since he indeed does odd things, helping himself to whatever he wants - witness the drawer full of watches, jewelry and off change - here and there. Yet, the vague nature of Alex's "job" sets up an ideomotor aporia in the minds of his parents; they're not quite sure.

The next scene serves to explain the basis for their hesitancy. Alex is visited by his "post-correctional officer", a Mr. Deltiod; it seems Alex has been in trouble in the past. His parents obviously sense something is up.

Deltoid's visit is an attempt to set "young Alex" on the straight and narrow path. He engages in, first, interrogatio, then strategy of terror to subdue Alex. Alex responds with aposiopesis, at which point Deltoid makes a direct suggestion. Alex responds with a beautiful simile, laced with hyperbole.

Interestingly, this line of persuasion does not work with Alex; Deltoid does not make himself clear. Alex and his droogs proceed - that very night - to invade the home of the "cat lady", a woman who runs a health farm on the outskirts of town. She is alone for the week, and has lots of money. Alex enters the house alone, is confronted by the woman. During a scuffle he fatally wounds her, though he doesn't know it at the time. When he emerges from the house to the sound of police sirens, his droogs attack him and leave him lying on the ground, momentarily blinded by a milk bottle; retribution for ill-treatment he had meted to them over the months.

Alex is now "in the rookers of the millicents". Deltoid returns during the "interrogation". Alex is rather bloody. As was the case with Ripper and Hal before him, Alex proceeds to tell the big lie, and use the scapegoat technique to remove responsibility for his action to others.

With a little erotesis and aposiopesis thrown in for seasoning, Alex blames his actions on others, usually those who had no direct influence on them.

The scene shifts to prison. Alex picks up the narrative. Through anacoenosis and the together device, he attempts to elicit a favorable response from the viewers. After all, this is Alex's story, told in his own words.

Alex, for the first time in his narration, appeals to the audience as "brothers and only friends". To him, what has happened is real weepy and tragic. Yet, anyone who looks objectively sees that he is dealt with justly. Like Ripper and HAL, the system metes out its justice, whether internally motivated - Ripper's cowardly suicide to avoid "torture" (foreshadowing Alex's claim of "torture" in the revelation of his victim's death) - or Bowman's vigilante-like meting out of justice on HAL for his murderous rampage. In all instances, the protagonist sees his fate - the just judgement of his actions - as the perpetration of the forces rallied against him in a capricious and arbitrary fashion. Their appeals do not have an impact on the viewer, except to pull us into their malaise. Kubrick successfully deals with this denial by establishing the proper distance from it, thus treating the protagonists as pawns in a bigger game, while at the same time justifying their fate. He treats these events in such a way that we don't sympathize with the protagonists, but we understand their actions.

Alex ingratiates himself with the prison chaplin. He assists during daily services.

The priest's sermon, direct suggestion coupled with interrogatio, is an attempt to persuade Alex, and his fellow prisoners, to take the road to righteousness. This persuasion, like that of Deltoid, is ineffective on Alex. Yet, he sucks up to the Priest, pretending to be good, hoping to be a candidate for the mysterious Ludovico Treatment, which he thinks will "cure" him.

The Ludovico Treatment introduces a chemical that causes nausea and "a violent, death-like paralysis" over the subject; when the subject watches images during these treatments, he is "conditioned" against the actions contained in these images by causing a recurrence of the paralysis during the actions after treatment is concluded. Alex wishes to get this treatment, simply because he wants out, not because he wants to be truly reformed.

Alex reads the Bible while in prison, not in an attempt to glean from it truths that might help him overcome his violent nature, but rather to fantasize about taking part in Christ's crucifixion, and imagining himself a Hebrew man getting into bed with his wive's handmaidens. The Priest comes up to him and quotes scripture, Alex finishing the verse for him from memory.

We, the audience, know that Alex is being disingenuous; his use of interrogatio merely reinforces that fact. He has not reformed, but is merely continuing the facade he presented to both his parents and to Deltoid before his arrest. This passage is instructive in the manner in which it reinforces the Biblical principal that works alone cannot save. Also, it cuts to the theme of this film, namely that goodness that comes from without is not truly good: that goodness must come from within.

Alex, through guile, achieves his goal: he is to be the subject in the first experimental use of the Ludovico Technique. He is injected with a serum and strapped in a chair in a movie theater. Lid-locks are put on his eyes to keep him from closing them, and his head is clamped so he cannot turn it. He is forced to watch the screen while images of random violence and rape unfold. The serum has its effect, and he is conditioned. However, he is also unexpectedly conditioned against listening to Ludwig van Beethoven, the background score in one of the films.

In an attempt to stop the treatment, he makes what could be called a genuine attempt at self-reform. He wishes to barter to save his "lovely, lovely Ludwig Van", and in the attempt engages in ideomotor. However, the doctors do not relent: they possibly missed their chance at true change within the heart of Alex de Large.

After the treatment, Alex is put on stage. He is to be the example in a grotesque display of the effects of his treatment.

The Minister rises after the girl exits, and asks for any questions. The priest rises and states:

Aside from being classic epiphonema, this statement cuts to the thematic quick: a man that cannot choose good - that has his goodness imposed on him from without - becomes a clockwork orange: "He cannot choose (like a man) in response to an organic and natural instinct (like an orange), rather he loses that uniqueness through the mechanical (clockwork) imposition of goodness through averse therapy [or chemical negative suggestion] (the Ludovico Technique)." 7.

The priest, therefore, shows himself to be the only sane man in Kubrick's universe, not only in the confines of this film, but in all three films we have examined. His response to the Minister's speech is telling:

The minister, throughout his speech, engages in periphrasis ("What change is here..."), rationalization ("Our party promised..."), prolepsis (after Alex's "display"), and aposiopesis (after the priest's charge). The priest, through erotesis, engages in the only appeal to reason found in these three films.

After he is released, and thrown out by his confused parents, Alex runs into the bum he and his droogs beat up in the first scene. He is rescued, ironically enough, by these very same droogs, now Police officers. They take him to a remote location and beat him up, "to see that you stay cured." He stumbles, broken and bleeding, to the home of the author he attacked, his wife now dead.

Alex continues his big lie mentality, but this time there is more truth in it than he thinks:

Alex's catachresis in the last line serves only to reinforce his self-imposed deception.

The author takes him in. He intends to use him as a weapon against the government in upcoming elections, but after discovering Alex's true identity (Alex and his droogs wore "maskies" when they perpetrated their attack), he changes his plans. He now, with the help of his friends, intends - like Alex's Police droogs - to see that he stay "cured", possibly through death.

He takes Alex to a remote location, locks him in an attic room, and fills the house with the evil Ninth Symphony of Beethoven. His sickness all over him "like an animal", Alex sees his only way out is suicide, and jumps from the window.

This auto-suggested persuasion also fails, and Alex is now in the hospital. Interestingly, through a series of occurrences we discover, along with Alex, that the transfusions he underwent flushed the Ludovico chemical from his bloodstream: he is now truly "cured".

He receives a visit from a contrite Minister.

The scapegoat technique returns, only this time it is the Minister who is putting the blame on others. Through periphrasis he attempts to convince Alex to support him in the upcoming elections; his disingenuousness is matched only be Alex's, and we see these two as cut from the same cloth, only taking different paths.

The hyperbolic simile returns, an echo of Alex's conversation with Deltoid before his arrest. The Minister's final statement before Alex asks his name is classic aposiopesis: his intention is finally made clear. He intends to buy Alex's support, and Alex - in true co-conspiratorial fashion - accepts.

He is now free.

Aporia. Aposiopesis. Scapegoat Technique. Metaphor, Simile, Dissimulation, Oxymoron. These and other persuasive techniques, when placed in the hands of a master like Stanley Kubrick, have a devastating effect on an audience. We are swept along, incredulous, into the labyrinthine maze of Kubrick's twisted moral universe.

Each film presents the same underlying theme: the world of man is a world of madness, and he expends the bulk of his energies shifting responsibility for his actions on others. He is not always successful, and many times his scapegoating is performed by a surrogate (Hal).

But our attempts leave us all with the mark of Cain. Like the Biblical figure, we know our sin is real, but cannot face the judgement. We choose an escape that only leads to self-inflicted punishment; Ripper's suicide, Hal's termination, Alex's cure. If we were only to see the truth - as Alex momentarily did - we could break free from our bonds.

1. T. A. Nelson, Kubrick: Inside a Film Artists Maze, 81 (Indiana University Press, 1982).

2. Ibid, 84-85.

3. Ibid, 106.

4. Reference from J. Agel, The Making of Kubrick's 2001, (The New American Library, 1970)

5. Reference from Nelson, 150-151.

6. Ibid, 159-161.

7. Ibid, 135.

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