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A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange  

18 members have voted

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  1. 1. Does "A Clockwork Orange" belong on the AFI list?

    • Yes. Well, don't think about it too long.
      11
    • No! NO! Stop it! Stop it, please! I beg you! This is sin!
      7
  2. 2. Which is the better film?

    • A Clockwork Orange
      3
    • Taxi Driver
      11

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  • Poll closed on 12/07/18 at 08:00 AM

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1 hour ago, W.Alexander said:

Amy's remarks on this picture remind of everything that is wrong with modern film criticism; lack of research surrounding the thematic elements in the film, filmmaker quotes and other historical elements taken out of context, and flimsy arguments used to support a negative view the film because stronger evidence to prove their point simply doesn't exist. Although, these complaints have always been around when speaking about film criticism, in this modern age they've taken a strangle hold over as the norm when criticly viewing movies. Looking purely at the surface value view of film, lacking any real investigation into the images and sounds of the film, and letting preconceived notions of what filmmaking (or filmmakers motives) is, has poisoned how the general public see motion pictures. Amy's opinions are a textbook example of these problems that are only becoming more entrenched as we let any person, regardless of their education or experience have an equal voice to those that do take the time and effort to evaluate the worth of films and art. 

Paul, on the other hand, should be given an award for his patience and grace in handling a conversation where he obviously disagreed with Amy. I intend on using this episode as an example with my students on how you can have a civil conversation with someone you don't agree with. 

In Paul’s voice: FIVE STARS

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A bigger problem in criticism: presenting an obvious bias under the guise of considered thoughtfulness when none is actually taken.

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I'm with Cameron H on ACO. I watched it in college more years ago than I care to admit. I don't ever need to watch it again.

I get that people can take away deeper meaning from the rape scenes and violence, but there are other ways to raise questions about morality and justice than what Kubrick does here. I'd put Taxi Driver over this without even thinking about it. Taxi Driver gets to all the shocking things (like Jodie Foster's character) without actually showing rape scenes. The total gory shoot out at the end is shocking not only in its violence, but also because it is used so sparingly in the movie, and the rest of the film basically just insinuated. Look at Psycho, that murder scene to me was so much more terrifying because of its intimacy and how it leaves you with your own imagination as to the stabbings. 

I get that art should be open to the offensive and the shocking including sexual violence, but as a woman and survivor of sexual violence, I chose not to engage. I appreciate the discussion the movie is allowing us to have, and I appreciate the deep dives into the scenes, but I won't be rewatching.

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6 hours ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

I get that art should be open to the offensive and the shocking including sexual violence, but as a woman and survivor of sexual violence, I chose not to engage. I appreciate the discussion the movie is allowing us to have, and I appreciate the deep dives into the scenes, but I won't be rewatching.

I'm sincerely sorry that happened to you. I know that just describing the plot of this movie to my wife was enough to really piss her off. I hope I'm not stepping out of line or offending anyone when I say this, but I think there is a certain degree of privilege on display when a person is able to look at those scenes and then casually talk about objectivity, art, shock-value, and morality - especially when they may have been fortunate enough in their lives not to have to undergo the horrors presented within. While this might be a fascinating philosophical game for some, for others, it's a grim reminder of how things have always been, and sadly, continue to be. And while I'm sure there are some women who enjoy this movie just fine, I really don't find it at all surprising that the defenders of this movie tend to be predominantly male.

Like you said, there are ways of presenting the same themes in the movie without it feeling like cheap exploitation. 

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15 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

And while I'm sure there are some women who enjoy this movie just fine, I really don't find it at all surprising that the defenders of this movie tend to be predominantly male.

To that end, from IMDb (so take it with a grain of salt):
 

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 1.31.22 PM.png

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Just now, bleary said:

To that end, from IMDb (so take it with a grain of salt):
 

Screen Shot 2018-12-01 at 1.31.22 PM.png

Hmm, not as stark a divide as I might have anticipated.

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I gotta say, I think this movie deserves to be in the top 100. It's not a pleasant film, and it's not easy to watch, but I think it's subject and it's message are so relevant to today's society, maybe even more so than when the film was first released (though I wasn't alive then so I can't say for sure).

The first time I saw this film I had to stop watching during the attack on the writer and his wife. It's funny that I don't at all see this scene as more palatable by the inclusion of the song and dance. I found it then, and still find it now, to be extremely disturbing in it's execution. But I tried the film again years later and being prepared for it helped. I watched it to the end and for the next few days I couldn't stop thinking about it. I love when a film lodges itself so thoroughly in my mind.

And ultimately what I think the film is communicating is this idea of the way today's society plays on our psyches. Yes, the film is set in "the future" but it's very much about today. Alex doesn't care that he's doing anything wrong, and in fact he's just a symptom of a sick society. But by the end of the film he's gotten so much positive reinforcement from the scientists and the politicians (the last shot is extremely telling) that the most chilling thing about the ending is that I think he doesn't believe he's done anything wrong at all! He's been rewarded for his behavior. In a time where fame and talent don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, and when so many in society crave a spotlight for a substance-less existence, this film goes right at the heart of what creates these social paradigms. 

As for Alex being the most sympathetic character... while I can't defend Kubrick's treatment of actors or his own mindset in this regard, I do believe that this has more to do with the simple fact that the film takes a subjective viewpoint rather than an objective one. Alex is "cool" and the most sympathetic character simply because we're in his head and he is the star of his own story. I think this approach is much more successful at telling this story than a more cinema verité sort of objectivity would've captured. In this light, it's easy to see that the other characters in the story are unsympathetic simply because that's how Alex views them. We're seeing the world through his eyes and it adds to the sense of distress we feel while watching the film.

So while I don't think this film is an easy or entertaining watch, I think it's an extremely important film that deserves to be seen and studied through the prism of our media-centric digital age.

 

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1 minute ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

Hmm, not as stark a divide as I might have anticipated.

Agreed.  But I do like that it shows how both genders think less highly of the movie as they age.

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18 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

I'm sincerely sorry that happened to you. I know that just describing the plot of this movie to my wife was enough to really piss her off. I hope I'm not stepping out of line or offending anyone when I say this, but I think there is a certain degree of privilege that comes from being able to look at those scenes in the film analytically and then be able to casually talk about objectivity, art, shock-value, and morality when maybe you've been fortunate enough not to have to undergo the horrors presented within. While this might be a fascinating philosophical game for some, for others, it's a grim reminder of how things have always been, and sadly, continue to be. And while I'm sure there are some women who enjoy this movie just fine, I really don't find it at all surprising that the defenders of this movie tend to be predominantly male.

Like you said, there are ways of presenting the same themes in the movie without it feeling like cheap exploitation. 

You're probably right about that . . . but at the same time, I can't really change my own reaction to the material. If it comes from a place of privilege, so be it. I can only be honest about what the film says to me, and leave the space for others to do the same.

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2 minutes ago, bleary said:

Agreed.  But I do like that it shows how both genders think less highly of the movie as they age.

Yes, that does seem to be broadly true.

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10 hours ago, WatchOutForSnakes said:

I get that art should be open to the offensive and the shocking including sexual violence, but as a woman and survivor of sexual violence, I chose not to engage. I appreciate the discussion the movie is allowing us to have, and I appreciate the deep dives into the scenes, but I won't be rewatching.

My condolences always come out poorly, ether feeling wordy or sounding possibly trite.  But I am sorry that you have experienced this personally.

9 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

I hope I'm not stepping out of line or offending anyone when I say this, but I think there is a certain degree of privilege on display when a person is able to look at those scenes and then casually talk about objectivity, art, shock-value, and morality - especially when they may have been fortunate enough in their lives not to have to undergo the horrors presented within.

I would not disagree with this statement.  Regardless of whatever further discussion I have of it still, of which, I imagine there will be some barring time constraints, I do want to at least acknowledge this.

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9 hours ago, bleary said:

Agreed.  But I do like that it shows how both genders think less highly of the movie as they age.

That could also be a generational thing.  How much violence was in films when they were younger.  I was also expecting a larger gender divide, but there might be self selection going on as well.  The people most likely to hate it know of its reputation and just don't watch (and then don't rate it).

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Tried to give the movie a chance by rewatching as much as I could. 

As much as like (or at least appreciate) 2001, i find it and pretty much any film by Kubrick to just be so overrated. He always struck me as producing the kind of overwrought, hyperpretenious movie that you'd find from a first year film student desperate to create capital-A "ART!" 

And I came to this conclusion when i was a first year film student and have yet to experience any thing different.  

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8 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

That could also be a generational thing.  How much violence was in films when they were younger.  I was also expecting a larger gender divide, but there might be self selection going on as well.  The people most likely to hate it know of its reputation and just don't watch (and then don't rate it).

According to that table, women also only represent about 13% of the total number of people rating it on IMDb - which is in itself a bit of self-selection as it only represents the type of people who voluntarily go that site, create an account, and rate movies. What happens when you increase that sample size and broaden its scope to include people who don’t rate movies there? So, yeah, as Bleary suggested, I’ll take it all with a grain of salt.

I mean, between The Canon and Unspooled, people (not saying anyone here) have always tended to be generally dismissive toward IMDb user rankings (which is based on ratings). So I’m not sure I agree with using it here as proof of popularity or whatever. You can’t use that list to and try to diminish the importance or worthiness of movies like Shawshank Redemption and Forest Gump and then turn around and use the exact same list to raise up A Clockwork Orange. It’s either a reliable gauge of a movie’s quality and popularity or it isn’t. We can’t pick and choose when want to confirm our own bias.

I mean, I’m willing to concede that even if you broaden the sample size nothing changes at all. Maybe I’m just being presumptuous and I’m flat out wrong. All I can point to is, anecdotally, in my entire life, I have never heard an impassioned defense of this movie from a person that wasn’t a dude. 

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Someone somewhere said that it was meant to be a comedy? If so, well, that failed. And not because it's not funny or that people didn't laugh. Rather than seeing it as a comedy even in the philosophical sense, I'm thinking it's more of a...  music video?

It's more music video because there doesn't seem much of a narrative, or at least no purpose behind the narrative that's presented. Rather, the intent is more on creating a "theme", both in the sense of an emotional through-line (making the audience deliberately FEEL something) and in the sense of a message or moral (deliberately feeling something ABOUT something.)  All the talk about the shock to the audience, the indictment of society and free will, etc. is testament to that. How many times did Paul and Amy say something like "the film wants you to..." or "the film makes you..." Kind of like a music video -- one that doesn't necessarily have a beginning-middle-end multiple-pointed storyline, but does provide images and sound that present something more singular. Although maybe it's more like a museum piece-- we are meant to stare at it on the wall in its entirety as you mull over a "theme" that is displayed. Hopefully you can blink. 

But that's also why it (and other "art-y" films) are unsatisfying to many, especially in its story. Because we prefer to see a narrative that results in something larger. Philosophically speaking, it's why we tell stories in the larger categories of tragedy and comedy. The twin face masks, one crying one laughing. Every story starts with something wrong with the world, an unsettled status quo, but by the story leading us through death (tragedy) or through coupling/marriage/birth (comedy), it restores to a new if not better status quo. "Orange" begins with the unsettledness, to be sure, but it's difficult to see any movement through death (does Alex even die to his old self? guess not) nor coupling/marriage (not at all) so what's the resolution, where is the redemption? We are left with a world unchanged and displaying themes we already agree with, so why wouldn't someone feel upset that it became a waste of time.  The inner nihilist in us all is tapping his foot, prompting the movie, "and ...?!" (The Inner Nihilist was a sixth character in Pixar's Inside Out but you'll have to see the director's cut.) 

All of that to say, by failing to fit into the purposeful intentions of either comedy or tragedy, it falls into neither, making it just a one-note whine.  

 

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2 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

I mean, between The Canon and Unspooled, people (not saying anyone here) have always tended to be generally dismissive toward IMDb user rankings (which is based on ratings). So I’m not sure I agree with using it here as proof of popularity or whatever. You can’t use that list to and try to diminish the importance or worthiness of movies like Shawshank Redemption and Forest Gump and then turn around and use the exact same list to raise up A Clockwork Orange. It’s either a reliable gauge of a movie’s quality and popularity or it isn’t. We can’t pick and choose when want to confirm our own bias.

I'd argue that IMDb ratings are a reliable-ish gauge of popularity, though not exactly perfect (as you note, there is going to be a lot of self-selection bias). Most of the claims of them being "unreliable" have to do with judging quality, which is not really what bleary was trying to demonstrate with the chart -- he's just looking at how the movie's ratings compare by gender and age group.

I'd also bet that women probably only account for about 13% of all people rating any movie on IMDb. "Rating" movies online tends to be a male-heavy endeavor.

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12 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

there might be self selection going on as well. 

4 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

According to that table, women also only represent about 13% of the total number of people rating it on IMDb - which is in itself a bit of self-selection as it only represents the type of people who voluntarily go that site, create an account, and rate movies. 

1 hour ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

(as you note, there is going to be a lot of self-selection bias).

Most definitely.  Unfortunately, there's literally no way to get data on this that doesn't involve a degree of self-selection.  (Is there a way to get data on anything that doesn't involve self-selection?  Even the US presidential elections only depend on the 60% of eligible voters who decide to actually vote.)  So as a math person, I've learned to take ANY statistics with a grain of salt, even when proper scientific method as been followed, which is obviously not the case here.

13 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

That could also be a generational thing.  How much violence was in films when they were younger.

Very possible, but I wouldn't think that argument would apply to the 18-29 and 30-44 age ranges, since this film literally came out before any of them were born.  But this also brings up the point that I don't know how they handle the age demographics.  I rated Clockwork a 7 out of 10 on IMDb when I was in the 18-29 age range.  Now that I'm in the 30-44 age range, does my rating of 7 move to that demographic?  I would hope not, since that number represented only how I felt about the film at that time.  I would hope that if I changed the ranking now, that 7 would disappear from the 18-29 range and my new ranking (probably a 6) would appear in the 30-44 range.

1 hour ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I'd argue that IMDb ratings are a reliable-ish gauge of popularity, though not exactly perfect (as you note, there is going to be a lot of self-selection bias). Most of the claims of them being "unreliable" have to do with judging quality, which is not really what bleary was trying to demonstrate with the chart -- he's just looking at how the movie's ratings compare by gender and age group.

4 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

It’s either a reliable gauge of a movie’s quality and popularity or it isn’t. We can’t pick and choose when want to confirm our own bias.

sycasey is right, in that I wasn't focused on the numbers, but rather the differences between them.  And I didn't post the numbers to confirm any bias I had, but rather because there was a question, and this gives a (partial, imperfect) answer to that question.  And if anything, I see these numbers mostly backing up Cameron H.'s assertion.  I'm not a statistician, but I see that .2 difference between male and female voters as statistically significant, particularly given the amount of self-selection that's been mentioned.  (That's roughly the same as the difference between female and male voters 18-44 voting on 50 First Dates, and I would say the percentage of impassioned defenses of 50 First Dates coming from females is roughly the same as the percentage of impassioned defenses of A Clockwork Orange coming from males.)

But if you want to see impassioned defenses from females, there are plenty of them in the 5 star reviews on Letterboxd (or we could take a page from Paul's book and look at the 5 star reviews on Amazon 😊).  There aren't nearly as many impassioned defenses from females as there are from males, but I don't know if anyone thought there would be.

1 hour ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I'd also bet that women probably only account for about 13% of all people rating any movie on IMDb.

Probably true for most movies, but there are a few with pretty even ratios and even a few with more female votes than male votes.  (Steel Magnolias for one!)

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1 hour ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

I'd argue that IMDb ratings are a reliable-ish gauge of popularity, though not exactly perfect (as you note, there is going to be a lot of self-selection bias). Most of the claims of them being "unreliable" have to do with judging quality, which is not really what bleary was trying to demonstrate with the chart -- he's just looking at how the movie's ratings compare by gender and age group.

I'd also bet that women probably only account for about 13% of all people rating any movie on IMDb. "Rating" movies online tends to be a male-heavy endeavor.

I get that, and this is kind of getting out of the gender issue a bit, but I feel like, in this case, if we are looking at the IMDb Top 250, the film's quality and the film's popularity have to somewhat go hand in hand. If we look at something like Shawshank and we say, "Yes, it's clearly popular. However, these people aren't professional critics. Many of them simply don't have the breadth of film knowledge to rate this movie appropriately. Popularity doesn't necessarily mean quality" then we can't exactly turn around and take another movie, and using the same pool of people we just suggested are incapable of evaluating a movie's quality, and say, "Look at how popular/unpopular it is with them! Look how these numbers compare!" I mean, I guess you can, but at best all you're really saying is, "Let's compare the popularity of this movie between two groups of people I personally don't believe know what the Hell they're talking about." Which is kind of like, um, okay...?  

We would either have to accept that the people rating Shawshank 10-stars are capable of rating a movie based on its quality, or we have to accept that it's an uniformed populist vote. And whatever is true about Shawshank, it's logical to assume that the same applies to A Clockwork Orange. Which is why I'm of the mind of disregarding those numbers altogether. All I see is that 13% of the 665,000 people, who are the specific type of movie nerd to go onto IMDb and rate movies, many of whom may or may not really know what they're actually talking about, more or less agreed with the other 87%. That's pretty much it. 

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44 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

Which is why I'm of the mind of disregarding those numbers altogether.

That's totally fair re: IMDB rating, but why aren't you dismissing your own anecdotal evidence with the same scrutiny?  Is there any actual proof of a gender issue in liking the film?  Everyone is confusing me with this line of attack, tbh.  I don't love the movie, as I said, but I do support it as a film and an artwork. I don't think it's fair to paint Clockwork supporters as bros who aren't woke enough and lack empathy, and we can't have a fair discussion about the movie if that's what's happening. 

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2 hours ago, bleary said:

But if you want to see impassioned defenses from females, there are plenty of them in the 5 star reviews on Letterboxd (or we could take a page from Paul's book and look at the 5 star reviews on Amazon 😊).  There aren't nearly as many impassioned defenses from females as there are from males, but I don't know if anyone thought there would be.

Oh, I admitted that there are probably many women who like this movie. I'm just saying I've never personally encountered one. Nor did I assume there would be that many - which was more or less my point. What I meant was, I see a lot of men defending this movie, now and throughout my life, and that defense, at least in part, comes from a place of detachment borne out of privilege. When they watch an unnecessarily long rape scene, they can sit back and think, "Oh my, how dreadful. This really makes me think..." but they're probably not experiencing that scene from the woman's perspective. Statistically, they have probably never had to worry once in their life about being viciously gang raped. (Hell, they'll probably never even have to experience it as an actor.) For lack of a better word, this isn't "real" for them. Hell, even in the scene with the writer and his wife, most men are probably more likely to place themselves in the position of the writer than the wife. So, it's not so much "How terrible it would be to be raped?" but "How terrible it would be to be beaten up and watch my wife get raped?" We don't linger on closeups of her face, but on his. The women in each of these scenes are merely props. Their rapes are merely to serve to the men in the audience - to allow them to quietly ponder the complexities of morality. And because of the safety afforded by their privilege, they are able to view these scenes as horrifying yet "engaging."

As I've said before, I simply don't feel like the underlying questions are really as deep or as interesting as defenders try to make them out to be. Certainly not to the extent that that they require much of what's presented to us in the film. If you need to see these things so graphically spelled out for you in order to consider these moral quandaries, then I really don't know what to say.

However, I'm going go ahead and let the topic drop as I feel I'm teetering outside of my depth. (I want to be an ally, but I don't want to be presumptuous or speak out of turn) Really, I would love to hear from more women in general. And, if they like, it, I would love to hear why and what they respond to.        

  

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1 minute ago, AlmostAGhost said:

 

That's totally fair re: IMDB rating, but why aren't you dismissing your own anecdotal evidence with the same scrutiny? 

Who said I wasn't? 

6 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

I mean, I’m willing to concede that even if you broaden the sample size nothing changes at all. Maybe I’m just being presumptuous and I’m flat out wrong. All I can point to is, anecdotally, in my entire life, I have never heard an impassioned defense of this movie from a person that wasn’t a dude. 

 

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Because you're still pointing it out, and using it here to make a claim.

OK so here's my defense of the violence of the film. It is a movie about ULTRAVIOLENCE.  There has to be some shockingness in it.  I'm not saying everyone has to like shocking violence, or that even the point of the film is interesting at all (it kind of isn't), but I think it does have to be there.  I don't take this as gratuitous, or purely shock value.  It's there because that's what the characters do.  They can't just be like breaking in and stealing silverware.  They have to be brutal and gross. 

Now maybe Kubrick went too far, or it is certainly too triggering for a lot of people, but I do think it has to be there in this story.

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I feel like this is a situation where it feels like we're arguing but we're actually in complete agreement.

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37 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Because you're still pointing it out, and using it here to make a claim

I’m pretty sure I only brought up anecdotal evidence that one time - and I was immediately willing to dismiss it. Regardless, you can like the film or not not. You can agree with me or not. My only point is it always seems like it’s men defending the movie, which seems to be the case here. I’m not trying to paint people as “un-woke.” I’m just stating my feelings about the movie which you are free to disagree with or ignore. I really only want to hear from more women. We’ve heard from two (that I know of ;) ) and both of them hated it. 

In terms of the movie being about Ultraviolence, my argument has always been that I don’t believe we necessarily need a movie about Ultraviolence. And if we do, I think it can be done better.

If I’m being at all unreasonable, I apologize. I didn’t mean to anger or upset anyone with my words. Please don’t take offense, and if anyone has, I’m truly sorry.

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49 minutes ago, bleary said:

I feel like this is a situation where it feels like we're arguing but we're actually in complete agreement.

100% :)

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