Michael Arnold Travis (Malcolm McDowell)

When I found out that Malcolm McDowell was in this film I was sold on it already. But it was lengthy and that is almost a reason to dump on a film in and of itself. Thankfully, it holds up for the three hour running time. It has a sprawling plot that takes us around the UK through different classes of people and the horrors of the modern world. It takes us from West to North East to North to South and finally to the East End. All the while, we have songs performed in a studio by a band that provide some commentary on what’s going on. It’s surreal, funny, and meaningful.

It begins with archival footage of an unlucky man played by McDowell who is arrested on a plantation and has his hands severed. Then we come to modern times! Here we find a lucky man named Michael, also played by McDowell, working as a coffee salesman for Imperial Coffee. He’s so lucky that although he is still in training he is being given a big job selling coffee in the North. It’s there that he meets corruption, militaristic paranoia, a Garden Of Eden like area, and finally a nutcase who is experimenting in eugenics.

New Coffee Salesman


A Free “Lunch”

The Medical Experiments

At this point, we move to the next half of the film where Michael meets Patricia (Helen Mirren), the daughter of a very rich and ruthless capitalist. Michael sees this as his meal ticket and arranges to meet with her father. This is where Michael has a great rise, but it doesn’t last long before his meteoric descent.

A Vacancy Just Opened Up For Michael

Michael ends up having to take the fall for the capitalist and his friends. He comes out of jail filled with hopeful words that are meaningless in the real world. He soon discovers their meaninglessness and is now at the bottom when his luck kicks in for the end of the film.

The film was based on McDowell’s own life and it shows in the ending. The film exposes the horrors of capitalism, but there is a more to this film. I think that the follow lines from the movie sum it up:

“Everyone is going through changes
No one knows what’s going on
Everybody changes places
But the world still carries on”

I highly recommend it.