A Clockwork Orange

1971

A Clockwork Orange

Critics Consensus

Disturbing and thought-provoking, A Clockwork Orange is a cold, dystopian nightmare with a very dark sense of humor.

90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 60

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 436,388
User image

A Clockwork Orange Photos

Movie Info

Stanley Kubrick dissects the nature of violence in this darkly ironic, near-future satire, adapted from Anthony Burgess's novel, complete with "Nadsat" slang. Classical music-loving proto-punk Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his "Droogs" spend their nights getting high at the Korova Milkbar before embarking on "a little of the old ultraviolence," such as terrorizing a writer, Mr. Alexander (Patrick Magee), and gang raping his wife (who later dies as a result). After Alex is jailed for bludgeoning the Cat Lady (Miriam Karlin) to death with one of her phallic sculptures, Alex submits to the Ludovico behavior modification technique to earn his freedom; he's conditioned to abhor violence through watching gory movies, and even his adored Beethoven is turned against him. Returned to the world defenseless, Alex becomes the victim of his prior victims, with Mr. Alexander using Beethoven's Ninth to inflict the greatest pain of all. When society sees what the state has done to Alex, however, the politically expedient move is made. Casting a coldly pessimistic view on the then-future of the late '70s-early '80s, Kubrick and production designer John Barry created a world of high-tech cultural decay, mixing old details like bowler hats with bizarrely alienating "new" environments like the Milkbar. Alex's violence is horrific, yet it is an aesthetically calculated fact of his existence; his charisma makes the icily clinical Ludovico treatment seem more negatively abusive than positively therapeutic. Alex may be a sadist, but the state's autocratic control is another violent act, rather than a solution. Released in late 1971 (within weeks of Sam Peckinpah's brutally violent Straw Dogs), the film sparked considerable controversy in the U.S. with its X-rated violence; after copycat crimes in England, Kubrick withdrew the film from British distribution until after his death. Opinion was divided on the meaning of Kubrick's detached view of this shocking future, but, whether the discord drew the curious or Kubrick's scathing diagnosis spoke to the chaotic cultural moment, A Clockwork Orange became a hit. On the heels of New York Film Critics Circle awards as Best Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, Kubrick received Oscar nominations in all three categories. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

Watch it now

Cast

Patrick Magee
as Mr. Alexander
Adrienne Corri
as Mrs. Alexander
Michael Bates
as Chief Guard
John Clive
as Stage Actor
Carl Duering
as Dr. Brodsky
Michael Gover
as Prison Warden
Miriam Karlin
as Cat Lady
James Marcus
as Georgie
Godfrey Quigley
as Prison Chaplain
Madge Ryan
as Dr. Branom
John Savident
as Conspirator Dolin
Anthony Sharp
as Minister of Interior
Pauline Taylor
as Psychiatrist
Margaret Tyzack
as Conspirator Rubinstein
Steven Berkoff
as Constable
Jan Adair
as Handmaiden
Prudence Drage
as Handmaiden
John J. Carney
as C.I.D. Official
Carol Drinkwater
as Nurse Feeley
George O'Gorman
as Bootick Clerk
Cheryl Grunwald
as Rape Victim in Film
Gillian Hills
as Sonietta
Craig Hunter
as Dr. Friendly
Virginia Wetherell
as Stage Actress
Katya Wyeth
as Girl in Fantasy
Gaye Brown
as Sophisto
Peter Burton
as Junior Minister
Barrie Cookson
as Dr. Alcott
Lee Fox
as Desk Sergeant
Neil Wilson
as Prison Check-in Officer
Shirley Jaffe
as Victim of Billy Boy's Gang
View All

News & Interviews for A Clockwork Orange

Critic Reviews for A Clockwork Orange

All Critics (60) | Top Critics (14)

  • All of the film's provocation and jaded sexual politics are flavoured with histrionic cynicism and disillusion.

    Apr 5, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • If pride of place must go to A Clockwork Orange, it is because this chilling and mesmeric adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel could well become one of the seminal movies of the seventies.

    Feb 17, 2016 | Full Review…

    Derek Malcolm

    Guardian
    Top Critic
  • What our nightmares have accustomed us to see in dreams, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange shows us in broad daylight. It is one of the most unsettling films in the whole of cinema.

    Feb 16, 2016 | Full Review…
  • A mind shattering experience with its exaggerated violence and outrageous vulgarity.

    Jan 29, 2016 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
    New York Daily News
    Top Critic
  • A painless, bloodless, and ultimately pointless futuristic fantasy.

    Feb 6, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Kubrick's contributions are his wit and his eye. The wit, too much at times, is as biting as in Dr. Strangelove, and the production, while of another order, is as spectacular as in 2001.

    Jan 18, 2013 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for A Clockwork Orange

  • Apr 18, 2017
    Are there any science fiction/futuristic films that don't have a cynical or dire viewpoint on the world and society as a whole? A Clockwork Orange is a cerebral look into a group of young males venture into ultraviolence and mass crime against the innocent. It's known for its deep themes and moralistic questions that it proposes. Oh, and it's pretty dark and haunting. Although 30 years apart, A Clockwork Orange reminds me a lot of Requiem for a Dream. Both films explore a group of troubled young adults who get their hands far too deep into something dangerous. For Requiem it was drugs, Clockwork it was violence. Both films also do a nice job at miraculously making criminals likable, or at least people who you can have sympathy for. Most of all, both films are thought provoking pieces of art, but something that I never want to re-watch. Clockwork particularly follows Alex DeLarge, a delinquent who takes a lot of joy out of committing crime. But his heinous crimes of rape and murder finally catch up to him and he's sent to jail, where an offer to rehabilitate and set him free catches his eye (pun intended). Before I get into the meat of what this film deals with, it's worth talking about Stanley Kubrick for a second. He's directed some of the most famous, and usually divisive, films of the 20th century. All visually stunning, thought provoking, and graphic in detail. A Clockwork Orange is all of those things, but there's no particular moment that I want to revisit, and perhaps that was Kubrick's intent. Perhaps, he wanted the audience to always feel uneasy and on the edge of their seat. Perhaps, Kubrick wanted us to go through a similar treatment to what Alex underwent. The Ludovico technique. Kubrick has a knack for producing imagery that will never leave your mind. Just as I'll never look at hotel rooms the same after The Shining, or A.I. after 2001, I don't think I'll ever be able to erase the image of Alex brutally raping and murdering a woman while singing 'Singin' in the Rain'. Shocking, disturbing, you name it. That was an extremely powerful scene. That pretty much goes for the whole film as well. Malcom McDowell provides an engrossing and charismatic turn as Alex. I'm sure it's incredibly difficult to make this character someone who you actually root against and then subsequently root for, but he does it. And that's not even mentioning the difficult physicality of this role. Overall, A Clockwork Orange is a film filled with deep and dark themes that will stick with you long after you see them. Great performances and great directing from Kubrick power the film through what should be purely exploitative, into something influential. +McDowell's impressive performance physically and emotionally +Thought provoking +Haunting imagery -Difficult to imagine myself ever revisiting it 8.0/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • May 22, 2016
    As you may have guessed from my profile picture, i am a huge fan of A Clockwork Orange. Yes it is quite violent and will not be everyones cup of tea. But this is a piece of cinematic genius by Kubrick. A very unusual film, darkly funny with a great score. An amazing book to film adaptation as well.
    Peter B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 13, 2015
    The most controversial film I've ever seen!!!
    Serge E Super Reviewer
  • Jan 04, 2015
    Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Anthony Burgess' novella lives up to the term "controversial". Violent, explicit & troubling to say the least. It's ruthless tone and insightful portrayal of its dystopian-landscape & devious antagonist makes A Clockwork Orange cult-like and iconic. 4.5/5
    Eugene B Super Reviewer

A Clockwork Orange Quotes

News & Features