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A Clockwork Orange

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE



UK, 1971


Director: Stanley Kubrick

Production: Hawk Films; Warnercolor, 35mm; running time: 135 minutes, some sources list 137 minutes. Released 20 December 1971 in New York by Warner Bros. Filmed September 1970 to March 1971 in MGM British Studios, Borehamwood, England.


Producers: Stanley Kubrick with Max L. Raab and Si Litvinoff serving as executive producers; screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, from the novel by Anthony Burgess; photography: John Alcott; editor: Bill Butler; sound: John Jordan; production designer: John Barry; art directors: Russell Hagg and Peter Shields; music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Edward Elgar, Gioacchino Rossini, Terry Tucker, and Erika Eigen; original electronic music: Walter Carlos; costume designer: Milena Canonero; make-up: Fred Williamson, George Partleton, and Barbara Daly; paintings and sculptures: Herman Makking, Cornelius Makking, Liz Moore and Christiane Kubrick; stunt arranger: Roy Scammer.

Cast: Malcolm McDowell (Alex); Patrick Magee (Mr. Alexander); Michael Bates (Chief Guard); Warren Clark (Dim); John Clive (Stage actor); Adrienne Corri (Mrs. Alexander); Carl Duering (Dr. Brodsky); Paul Farrell (Tramp); Clive Francis (Lodger); Michael Gover (Prison governor); Miriam Karlin (Cat lady); James Marcus (George); Aubrey Morris (Deltroid); Godfrey Quigley (Prison chaplain); Sheila Raynor (Mum); Madge Ryan (Dr. Barnom); John Savident (Conspirator); Anthony Sharp (Minister of the Interior); Philip Stone (Dad); Pauline Taylor (Psychiatrist); Margaret Tyzack (Conspirator); with Steven Berkoff, Lindsay Campbell, Michael Tarn, David Prowse, Barrie Cookson, Jan Adair, Gaye Brown, Peter Burton, John J. Carney, Vivienne Chandler, Richard Connaught, Prudence Drage, Carol Drinkwater, Lee Fox, Cheryl Grunwald, Gilliam Hills, Craig Hunter, Shirley Jaffe, Virginia Wetherell, Neil Wilson, and Katya Wyeth.

Awards: New York Film Critics Awards for Best Film and Best Direction, 1971.



Publications


Script:


Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, Based on the Novel byAnthony Burgess (shot by shot script), New York, 1972.

Books:

Kagan, Norman, The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick, New York, 1972.

Walker, Alexander, Stanley Kubrick Directs, New York, 1972.

Phillips, Gene D., The Movie Makers: Artists in Industry, Chi-cago, 1973.

Devries, Daniel, The Films of Stanley Kubrick, Grand Rapids, Michi-gan, 1973.

Bobker, Lee R., Elements of Film, New York, 1974.

Haskell, Molly, From Reverence to Rape, New York, 1974.

Phillips, Gene D., Stanley Kubrick: A Film Odyssey, New York, 1975.

Taylor, John Russell, Directors and Directions: Cinema for the '70s, New York, 1975.

Wagner, Geoffrey, The Novel and the Cinema, Madison, New Jer-sey, 1975.

Parish, James Robert, editor, The Science Fiction Pictures, Metuchen, New Jersey, 1977.

Ciment, Michel, Kubrick, Paris, 1980, revised edition, 1987; trans-lated as Kubrick, London, 1983.

Kolker, Robert Phillip, A Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Kubrick,Coppola, Scorsese, Altman, Oxford, 1980; revised edition, 1988.

Hummel, Christoph, editor, Stanley Kubrick, Munich, 1984.

Brunetta, Gian Piero, Stanley Kubrick: Tempo, spazio, storia, e mondipossibili, Parma, 1985.

Falsetto, Mario, Stanley Kubrick: A Narrative and Stylistic Analysis, Westport, Connecticut, 1994.

Corliss, Richard, Lolita, London, 1994.

Falsetto, Mario, editor, Perspectives on Stanley Kubrick, New York, 1996.

Baxter, John, Stanley Kubrick: A Biography, New York, 1997.

LoBrutto, Vincent, Stanley Kubrick: A Biography, New York, 1997.

Walker, Alexander, Stanley Kubrick: Director, New York, 1999.

Raphael, Frederic, Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick, New York, 1999.

Philips, Gene, editor, Stanley Kubrick: Interviews, Jackson, Missis-sippi, 2000.


Articles:

Hofsess, John, "Mind's Eye," in Take One (Montreal), May-June 1971.

Canby, Vincent, in New York Times, 20 December 1971.

Cocks, Jay, in Time (New York), 20 December 1971.

Alpert, Hollis, "Milk-Plus and Ultra-Violence," in Saturday Review (New York), 25 December 1971.

Houston, Penelope, "Kubrick Country," in Saturday Review (New York), 25 December 1971.

Hughes, Robert, "The Decor of Tomorrow's Hell," in Time (New York), 27 December 1971.

Sarris, Andrew, in Village Voice (New York), 30 December 1971.

Kael, Pauline, in New Yorker, 1 January 1972.

Canby, Vincent, "Orange, Disorienting, but Human Comedy," in New York Times, 9 January 1972.

Millar, Gavin, "Treatment and Ill Treatment," in Listener (London), 20 January 1972.

Gow, Gordon, in Films and Filming (London), Winter 1972.

Burgess, Anthony, "Clockwork Marmalade," in Listener (London), 17 February 1972.

Zimmerman, Paul, "Kubrick's Brilliant Vision," in Newsweek (New York), 3 January 1972.

Bourget, Jean-Loup, in Positif (Paris), March 1972.

Burgess, Jackson, in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Spring 1972.

Houston, Penelope, and Philip Strick, "Interview with Stanley Kubrick," in Sight and Sound (London), Spring 1972.

Krassner, P., and others, in Take One (Montreal), April 1972.

Barr, Charles, "Straw Dogs, A Clockwork Orange, and the Critics," in Screen (London), Summer 1972.

Boyers, Robert, in Film Heritage (Dayton, Ohio), Summer 1972.

Gumenik, Arthur, "A Clockwork Orange: Novel into Film," in FilmHeritage (Dayton, Ohio), Summer 1972.

Kolker, Robert Phillip, "Oranges, Dogs, and Ultraviolence," in Journal of Popular Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio), Summer 1972.

Benayoun, Robert, "Stanley Kubrick le libertin," Positif (Paris), June 1972.

Burgess, Anthony, in Positif (Paris), June 1972.

Ciment, Michel, "Entretien avec Stanley Kubrick," in Positif (Paris), June 1972.

Costello, Donald, "From Counter-Culture to Anti-Culture," in Commonweal (New York), 14 July 1972.

Strick, Philip, "Kubrick's Horrorshow," in Sight and Sound (Lon-don), Winter 1972.

McCracken, Samuel, "Novel into Film: Novelist Into Critic: AClockwork Orange Again," in Antioch Review (Yellow Springs, Ohio), no. 3, 1973.

Isaac, Neil D., "Unstuck in Time: Clockwork Orange and Slaughterhouse 5," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Mary-land), Spring 1973.

Mamber, Stephen, in Cinema (Los Angeles), Winter 1973.

Evans, W., "Violence and Film: The Thesis of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange," in Velvet Light Trap (Madison, Wisconsin), Fall 1974.

Gow, Gordon, in Films and Filming (London), October 1975.

Feldmann, H., "Kubrick and His Discontents," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), no. 1, 1976.

Elsaesser, Thomas, "Screen Violence: Emotional Structure and Ideological Function in A Clockwork Orange," in Approaches toPopular Culture, edited by C. W. E. Bigsby, London, 1976.

Moskowitz, Ken, "A Clockwork Orange," in Velvet Light Trap (Madison, Wisconsin), Fall 1976.

Moskowitz, Ken, "Clockwork Violence," Sight and Sound (Lon-don), Winter 1977.

Sobcharck, V. C., "Decor as Theme: A Clockwork Orange," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), no. 2, 1981.

Collins, F., "Implied Metaphor in the Films of Stanley Kubrick," in New Orleans Review, no. 3, 1989.

French, P., in Sight and Sound (London), no. 2, 1990.

Bourguignon, T., in Positif (Paris), September 1992.

Stein, M.E., "The New Violence, or Twenty Years of Violence in Films: An Appreciation," in Films in Review (Denville, New Jersey), vol. 46, January/February 1995.

Ng, Y., "A Clockwork Orange: The First 25 Years," in Kinema (Waterloo, Ontario), no. 5, Spring 1996.

Rouchy, Marie-Élisabeth and François Gorin, "Kubrick a des pépins," in Télérama, no. 2443, 6 November 1996.


* * *

Still circulating in Europe and America but withdrawn from British distribution by Kubrick in 1973, within a year of its first release, A Clockwork Orange currently remains a paradoxical testament to the manipulative obsessions of its director. On the one hand, Kubrick has taken to extremes his habitual attention to every detail of the shaping and presentation of his work by, in this instance, deciding not to let it be shown at all. On the other, the "suppressed" film has validated its own theme by refusing to be manipulated out of existence; instead, its notoriety has served only to enhance its creator's reputation despite his change of heart, thanks to the seductive skill and extraordinary impact with which his tale is told. That it is his tale, although phrased in the appealingly hybrid language devised by Anthony Burgess (who in 1962 based his brutally comical novel on a real-life incident of 20 years earlier), is obvious from the parallels in structure, emphasis and technique with all Kubrick's other dramas, from Day of the Fight in which arenas and split personalities find an uncanny preface, to Full Metal Jacket in which, once again, conditioned killers pursue the excesses of a fiercely private war.

The setting for A Clockwork Orange is Britain in the near future— "just as soon as you could imagine it, but not too far ahead—it's just not today, that's all"—when teenage thug Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) enjoys a daily routine of crime, sex, and Beethoven. Caught and imprisoned for murder, he volunteers for experimental shock therapy available as a government scheme to reduce prison overcrowding, which brainwashes him so effectively that he becomes in his turn a helpless victim incapable of defending himself and nauseated by all his former passions. Trapped by the deranged writer Mr. Alexander, once attacked by Alex and now intent on revenge (and author, we learn, of a book called A Clockwork Orange), he is driven to attempt suicide after an overdose of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The popular press rushes to his support, and the government hastily agrees to reverse the "rehabilitation" treatment. Like the astronaut of 2001, Alex is reborn ("I came back to life after black, black night for what might have been a million years") and, restored to rude health, prepares to make up for lost time.

Boisterous, intimate, explicit and gaudy, Kubrick's forecast owes nothing to the high-tech elegance of 2001, his other speculative trend-setter, except for the same scrupulous perfectionism. The costumes by Milena Canonero and the set designs by John Barry are a spectacularly lurid blend of transient fashion, stockbroker-belt kitsch, clownish irony and plundered grandeur, as if the palatial vaults of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining had been taken over for an acid-house boutique. The effect is more pantomime than prophecy, but it defines with hilarious clarity a society of fevered excess where the older generation clings listlessly to a dismal past while the present is ruthlessly pillaged by the young. Art has been reduced to tepid pornography, with sculpted nudes as furniture in the "milk-bars" (where drinks are automatically spiced with drugs) and erotic images as commonplace domestic wallpaper, while music has become mechanical and formulaic, even the classics (beautifully rearranged by Walter Carlos) converted to a remorseless clockwork rhythm.

In this weary, decaying environment, physicality offers the only reliable truth. With joyful energy, Clockwork Orange presents a torrential, dancing flow of movement, celebrating the simplicity of brute strength. A superb fight sequence quickly establishes the mood: in a derelict opera house lit by huge shafts of light across its rubbish-strewn floor, two gangs confront each other gleefully and plunge into a ballet of dazzling violence, hurling each other through furniture and windows with slapstick enthusiasm. Urged on by, and often synchronised with, Rossini's thunderous "Thieving Magpie," their exhilaration then bursts out into a headlong chase aboard the stolen Durango-95, scattering other traffic in wild panic and yelling with the sheer ecstasy of speed. Alex's night-ride recalls the toppling "Star Gate" sequence of 2001, the rush through the hotel corridors in The Shining, or more subtly the long journeys of Lolita and Barry Lyndon and the flight of the nuclear bomber in Dr. Strangelove. These anguished, self-defeating but inescapable odysseys, shaped from Kubrick's perpetually prowling camera, continue into the final image of Full Metal Jacket—a defiant advance into darkness by spirits who know the worst and no longer fear it.

Repeatedly, Kubrick opens his scenes with immense tracking shots, like the low-angle spin around the record-shop just ahead of Alex on the hunt, or the triumphant sweep through the wards with the psychiatrist and her trolley of equipment. Scenes of urgency and impending disaster are filmed with a hand-held camera (held by the director himself): Alex's fight with the cat-lady, a struggle in torrential rain, a march towards retribution in muddy woodland. And more than anywhere else in his work, Kubrick uses subjective shots, identifying us with Alex so that we too are crushed to the floor, lie powerless in hospital, or, most unsettling of all, fall in despair from a window to be smashed on the pavement below. This emphasis ensures that Alex has our sympathy despite the extremes of his behaviour, that he remains the misunderstood sufferer from social injustice ready to accumulate a further load of misunderstanding as soon as the opportunity arises.

"The story can be taken on two levels," said Kubrick before the film opened: "as a sociological treatment of whether behavioural psychology will lead to evils on the part of a totalitarian government (which I think is the less important level), or as a kind of psychological fairy-tale. And I don't frankly believe that audiences in general will see Clockwork Orange other than as a fairy-tale, which it also resembles in its symmetry, with each character encountered again at the end. There's a lot of hypocrisy about what the human personality really is: the Id may be largely suppressed by the super-Ego but it's with us just the same—and it identifies with Alex all the time. This darker side of our subconscious finds release in Alex: he makes nothing out to be better than it is, he's completely honest. How can we not sympathise with him?" Soon on the defensive, his film accused of inspiring new waves of delinquency (with about as much logic as if Full Metal Jacket were interpreted as an army recruitment exercise), the director with characteristic discretion has temporarily retired Alex as best he can from public gaze. But he compiled a portrait too potent to be forgotten: Alex's tortured face, enfolded in straps and wires, his eyelids held open by pitiless clamps, is one of the most haunting and vital apparitions the cinema will ever have to offer.

—Philip Strick

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