A Clockwork Orange (1971)

clockwork orange poster 1971 movie
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great movie, visuals, sound, acting

Gets a little slow after Alex's capture

Movie Info

Movie Name: A Clockwork Orange

Studio: Warner Bros.

Genre(s): Drama/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s): December 19, 1971

MPAA Rating: R

clockwork orange alex droogs korova milk bar cast

Care for a bit of the old in-and-out?

Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his Droogs Pete (Michael Tarn), Georgie (James Marcus), and Dim (Warren Clarke) always have a fun night planned.  They hang out at the Korova Milk Bar then head out for some ultra-violence which means cracking skulls and a bit of the old in-and-out.  Alex rules the Droogs with an iron fist…but there is about to be a change in power.  Alex finds himself thrust into the system and curing Alex’s anger, lust, and actions is the only hope for rehabilitation…but rehabilitation comes at a price.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian sci-fi drama satire.  The film is an adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel and was released to positive but critical reviews due to the subject matter.  Kubrick famously withdrew A Clockwork Orange from British cinemas after accusations of copycat crimes surfaced.  The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing.  It was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry in 2020.

clockwork orange droogs car cast

Time for some Ultra-Violence!

A Clockwork Orange was a rite of passage as a kid.  With an X-Rating (lowered to an R-Rating in later years), the movie as one of those films that you bragged to friends about seeing.  When I went to England, I was able to wow people about having seen the movie without having to watch it on a bootleg copy…and quoting the cleverly written Nadsat was a thing (Nadsat was a blend of Russian/Slavic languages, English, and Cockney slang).  A lot of cult films don’t live up to their reputation, and while A Clockwork Orange sometimes has some pacing problems, it still stands tall as an edgy and dangerous movie.  Due to plot aspects, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

clockwork orange anti violence programming alex eye clamps malcolm mcdowell

It’s a SIN!!!

Anthony Burgess wasn’t a big fan of his own novel, and Kubrick changed the fundamental meaning of the novel.  In the novel, Alex is a punk.  He goes to prison and is forced into becoming an adult through an experimental programming system.  He is released and finds he can’t survive because adulthood was forced on him.  The experiment is undone, and in the film Alex heads back to a life of rape and crime again as implied by the last scene.  In the book, Alex is freed and finds that he’s outgrown his friends, the nightlife, and his bad behavior…he grows up on his own.  It isn’t very good, and it is abrupt, but it is the point of the story…Kubrick jettisons this for a hipper, darker ending.

Malcolm McDowell makes the movie.  His Alex is cocky, obnoxious, and has a strange coolness to him despite his horrible and reprehensible behavior (which led to some of the danger of the film).  There is a nice supporting cast with a number of British character actors (and also a stand-out performance by Warren Clarke as the sad-sack Dim).  The movie also features Patrick Magee in a nice role which turns the tables on who is good and who is bad.  Magee’s body in-home nurse is played by Darth Vader performer David Prowse.

clockwork orange david prowse patrick magee malcolm mcdowell

So…don’t have guests often?

Like most Kubrick films, the visuals shine.  With stark and modern Scandinavian style “future” sets, the world looks both advanced and kind of rotten at the same time.  In addition to the set-designs, Kubrick brings his excellent framing and style to enhance the already great sets.  Kubrick also closely ties the film to music which becomes its own character as Alex finds his source of relief also his own torture device (along with the key to his demise).

Cult movies sometimes can be easily dismissed as something that have been latched on to and aren’t necessarily as good as they are hyped up to be.  A Clockwork Orange feels a bit different in this sense.  If you can get past the hype and look upon the movie with pure eyes, you get a decent sci-fi thriller with a message…it is a dark message, but it is one you won’t forget (and you also won’t think of the “William Tell Overture” in the same way again).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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