A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A dystopian future London is the playground of a teenage gang leader in Stanley Kubrick’s stylish, controversial take on Anthony Burgess’s novel about violence and free will.

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“Kubrick’s dazzling visual style translates the substance of an ‘unfilmable’ book into the language of cinema. And at the dramatic core of the film is a simply astonishing performance by Malcolm MacDowell as Alex.”
Simon Braund, empireonline.com

Stanley Kubrick’s films often place individuals in conflict with authority, but never to such controversial effect as in this adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s experimental 1962 novel. A Clockwork Orange stars Malcolm McDowell as Alex, an adolescent whose principal interests include rape, assault and Beethoven, and who is eventually subjected to extreme aversion therapy by the state.

The film’s bravura style, comprising modish interiors, Wendy Carlos’s electronic score and Burgess’s invented ‘Nadsat’ dialect, was overshadowed by its exuberantly realised sexual violence. Controversy led to the film’s withdrawal from British exhibition for over two decades. It remains a powerful essay on the pleasures and consequences of physical and psychological violence.

Malcolm McDowell had played another rebellious adolescent in Lindsay Anderson’s If…. (1968). Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987) shows young men conditioned into violence, rather than out of it.

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