Close Up

12 May 2017: A Clockwork Orange


A Clockwork Orange
Stanley Kubrick
1971 | 131 min | Colour | DCP

Stanley Kubrick’s ultra-influential (and ultra-controversial) follow-up to 2001: A Space Odyssey was another masterful, future-set thought experiment that pulled no punches in its artistic resolve – much to the chagrin of finger-wagging moralists everywhere. A dystopian tomorrow tale adapted from Anthony Burgess’s notorious 1962 novel – complete with “Nadsat” street slang intact – the film adopts the viewpoint of Ludwig van-loving, sociopathic teen protagonist/narrator Alex (Malcolm McDowell, Kubrick’s only choice for the role) as he brutally robs, rapes, and murders with his gang of doped-up “droogs” in futuristic London. Double-crossed and arrested, Alex volunteers for an experimental aversion-therapy treatment to “cure” him of his sadistic impulses. Condemned by some for its perceived glorification of violence – not helped by Kubrick’s request to have the film pulled from UK distribution after a rash of copycat crimes – it still received four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture (the second and final time for an X-rated film).

Part of our retrospective on Stanley Kubrick