Classic of the Week: A Clockwork Orange (1971)


A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Anthony Burgess’s novel of the same name. The film is filled with disturbing, violent images to tell about psychiatry, juvenile delinquency, youth gangs and other controversial topics, in a dystopian near-future Great Britain. It stars Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Warren Clarke and James Marcus.

The film follows Alex, a classical music lover and antisocial delinquent and his gang that call themselves droogs, the Russian word for “buddy” or “friend.” They go on crime spree , Alex gets captured and is forced into a psychological experiment technique. The acts of these lads in this film, are extremely violent, disturbing, narcissistic and illegal.

At the time of this film’s original release in the UK, it was received badly, Kubrick had to pull it from UK theaters because of death threats. He then cut out parts of the film and made a theatrical version that received mixed reviews. The film did well in American box offices, with the cut and uncut versions, but still it was extremely controversial too. It received an X rating (now just R). Despite all the mess with the film, it managed to still get nominated For Picture at The Oscars. It is now considered a cult classic and is on many Greatest Films of All Time lists including the American Film Institute, Time Out New York, Time Magazine and The Guardian.

I have a love-hate relationship with this film. It is disturbing and offensive to the max, definitely one of the most violent films I’ve seen. But Kubrick films are known for causing controversy just like Lolita and Full Metal Jacket. Despite all of that, it is extremely well done. No one could play Alex but Malcolm McDowell (or Evan Peters). It is an acquired taste, definitely not a date film or one to watch with your parents.

Sure the film could use somde major toning down, but would it be the same? Nope. A lot of the scenes are over the top violent, lots of beatings and who can forget that famous rape scene after watching this? It is tattooed in my brain. This is clearly not a movie you’ll want to watch over and over. Being brutal and unsettling, just like the book, it is still a classic.

Truly bizarre is this film, quite uncomfortable and sickening, but I believe that’s what Kubrick was going for, just like Anthony Burgess and his book. Bringing the already discomforting story to life, Kubrick did outstandingly. The reason for my love-hate relationship with this film, is that it is just over the top sickening, but the acting and cinematography are great. Do I think it deserved a Best Picture nod? No.

If you can’t handle this film, go for it, but even the director’s cut can make a person feel completely disquieting and physically ill. This is not for the faint of heart, so watch at your own risk. 18+ 3.5/5


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