Have you noticed that you can take a picture of your kitchen or whatever room when it’s in particularly bad shape–in the middle of pie-baking with flour dust everywhere, or like my living room with the book stacks–and yet it still comes out (with a good lens and software) looking clean?
This is what I’ve noticed in watching A Clockwork Orange versus reading the book. There must be a concentrated effort on the part of the film maker to perceive and reveal what a general concensus of readers would envision. "Dirty" doesn’t come through easily on film unless specific technical properties are employed such as graininess or softening or color value. Otherwise, the crispness of high quality film methods make it look "falsely" dirty; set up or staged so to speak.
From the author’s description of the prison or the streets I established a specific image in my mind–based of course on my own experience and influences. The movie image didn’t jive with my own. The prison looked like a castle in some scenes–those lovely stone walls and arched doorways.
I’m wondering if, while film is taking away a good deal of the writerly aspect of story by defining image, there is not still some amount of perception left to the viewer. Beauty still is in the eye of the beholder, so that even a specific chair can be seen in different ways: comfortable or not comfortable, purple rather than blue, too contemporary or too traditional, etc.
It is indeed interesting to poke around the notion of perception. And then, I suppose, know that no amount of narrowing a field of information can completely exclude argument.