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A Clockwork Orange

August 17, 2010

525. A Clockwork Orange
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
UK, 1971
IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Ally
First complete viewing


Teenage gang-member Alex (Malcolm McDowell) has three passions: Ultra-violence, rape and Beethoven. After being arrested for murder, he is subjected to an experimental treatment which causes an intense nauseous reaction to his violent and sexual urges.

Essential Scene:

Alex begins his aversion therapy. Having been injected, he is straight-jacketed and forced to endure violent film footage, his eyelids clamped open to ensure he watches. Images that would once have thrilled him begin to physically sicken him. Alex realizes with horror that the background music is that of his beloved Beethoven. The doctors continue the treatment, considering the destruction of Alex’s only innocent joy a fair punishment.


Prison Chaplain: Goodness is something to be chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.

A Clockwork Orange is memorably horrifying. Alex is painted first as ruthless criminal, then helpless victim of an equally ruthless society. He loses his free will, his very humanity, and can no longer stand to hear the music that once gave him such joy. But the ending is just as chilling, illustrating that Alex’s treatment has been reversed and the vicious circle continues.


Reviewed by Rachel
Umpteenth viewing

Essential Scene:

Seeking refuge from the police, Alex stumbles across a large home. In his pain and panic he doesn’t realise that he had been there before with his droogs, when they brutally raped a woman and severely beat her husband. The now widowed and wheelchair-bound man takes pity on Alex, not recognising him. After the man offered his hospitality, Alex settles in the bath and starts to sing “Singin’ in the Rain.” He had sung this song while he prepared to rape the man’s wife, and the man suddenly realises who Alex is as the words reverberate through the house.


A Clockwork Orange is a terrifying lesson in free-will, psychological treatment and punishment for crimes. Where should the state draw the line? Should right and wrong be a personal choice? You’ll certainly never listen to “Singin’ in the Rain” the same way again…

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jim Lawrence permalink
    August 19, 2010 1:49 pm

    Anyone who doesn’t like ACO should be beaten senseless with a big phallic ornament.

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