The orderly wheels Alex into a strange room with a projector, a sound system, and a series of meters. At its center, facing the screen, there is a chair. An orderly straps Alex into the chair and affixes an apparatus to ensure that he cannot turn his head away from the screen. Alex says that there’s no need to restrain him, but the orderly continues, even clipping the skin on Alex’s forehead so that he cannot shut his eyes.
The restraints, which deprive Alex of even basic control of his body, illustrate that he will not be able to assert himself over and withstand his treatment in the way he expects. They also imply that the government has the power to control Alex to whatever degree it pleases. In some sense the government is forcibly exerting its will upon Alex in the same way that he has up until now forced his will on others.
After a cap covered with wires is affixed to Alex’s head, Dr. Brodsky enters the room and gives the order to begin the film. The movie begins: it is a professional-quality production that shows an old man walking down the street. Suddenly, two young men appear and begin to brutally beat the old man. After some time, the boys run away, and the film zooms in on the man’s bloodied face. Alex marvels at how these real-world colors seem more real when viewed on screen.
Alex is, not surprisingly, not shocked by this reprehensible video. However, it is worth noting that his experience of watching violence on film makes him fetishize that violence even more than he did previously: the colors, sensationalized by film, somehow seem more real than they do in real life. Filtering violence through media can make it seem fun.
After this film, Alex begins to feel ill—he attributes this to malnourishment from prison food. A new film starts immediately. This movie shows a woman being gang-raped, and Alex is aghast that such footage could be shot for governmental purposes. As the film plays, Alex begins to feel like throwing up. He hears Dr. Brodsky commenting on his reactions.
The aversion Alex feels is unfamiliar to him, and suggests that he may no longer be fully in control of his emotions. In addition, the fact that this horrible film was made on government orders suggests that Alex’s captors are no more moral than he is—their fixation on violence has simply found a more socially-acceptable outlet than Alex’s.
Alex is shown a handful of other films, all as graphically violent as the first. He sees Brodsky watching with glee. During a film that shows the Japanese military torturing soldiers during the Second World War, Alex’s physical discomfort is so great that he begs the doctors to turn off the films. However, instead of granting Alex’s wishes, the doctors simply laugh and tell him that the treatment has only just begun.
The doctors’ perverse enjoyment of the sickening films—and of Alex’s own suffering—affirms that they, too, have the same sorts of sadistic impulses that they aim to eradicate in Alex. This calls into question the overall “goodness” of the treatment Alex receives. Can these highly flawed doctors really be expected to tamper with Alex’s temperament in a beneficial way? Are they truly better or more moral than he is, or have they merely found socially acceptable ways to indulge in the same sort of immorality?