Protagonist Alex DeLarge is an “ultraviolent” youth in futuristic Britain. As with all luck, his eventually runs out and he’s arrested and convicted of murder and rape. While in prison, Alex learns of an experimental program in which convicts are programmed to detest violence. If he goes through the program, his sentence will be reduced and he will be back on the streets sooner than expected. But Alex’s ordeals are far from over once he hits the mean streets of Britain that he had a hand in creating.
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film adapted, produced, and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange. It employs disturbing, violent images to comment on psychiatry, juvenile delinquency, youth gangs, and other social, political, and economic subjects in a dystopian near-future Britain.
Alex (Malcolm McDowell), the main character, is a charismatic, sociopathic delinquent whose interests include classical music (especially Beethoven), rape, and what is termed “ultra-violence.” He leads a small gang of thugs (Pete, Georgie, and Dim), whom he calls his droogs (from the Russian word друг, “friend,” “buddy”). The film chronicles the horrific crime spree of his gang, his capture, and attempted rehabilitation via controversial psychological conditioning. Alex narrates most of the film in Nadsat, a fractured adolescent slang composed of Slavic (especially Russian), English, and Cockney rhyming slang.
The soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange features mostly classical music selections and Moog synthesizer compositions by Wendy Carlos (then known as Walter Carlos). The artwork of the now-iconic poster of A Clockwork Orange was created by Philip Castle with the layout by designer Bill Gold.
About the Story
In futuristic London, Alex DeLarge is the leader of his “droogs”, Georgie, Dim and Pete. One night, after getting intoxicated on drug-ladened “milk-plus”, they engage in an evening of “ultra-violence” including a fight with a rival gang led by Billyboy. They drive to the country home of writer F. Alexander and beat him to the point of crippling him for life. Alex then rapes his wife while singing “Singin’ in the Rain”. The next day, while truant from school, Alex is approached by his probation officer Mr. P. R. Deltoid, who is aware of Alex’s activities and cautions him.
Alex’s droogs express discontent with petty crimes and want more equality and high yield thefts, but Alex asserts his authority by attacking them. Later, Alex invades the home of a wealthy “cat-lady” and bludgeons her with a phallic statue while his droogs remain outside. On hearing sirens, Alex tries to flee but Dim smashes a bottle on his face, stunning him and leaving him to be arrested by the police. With Alex in custody, Mr. Deltoid gloats that the woman he attacked died, making Alex a murderer. He is sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Two years into the sentence, Alex eagerly takes up an offer to be a test subject for the Minister of the Interior’s new Ludovico technique, an experimental aversion therapy for rehabilitating criminals within two weeks. Alex is strapped to a chair, injected with drugs, and forced to watch films of sex and violence with his eyes propped open. Alex becomes nauseated by the films, and then recognizes the films are set to music of his favorite composer, Ludwig van Beethoven.
Fearing the technique will make him sick on hearing Beethoven, Alex begs for the end of the treatment. Two weeks later, the Minister demonstrates Alex’s rehabilitation to a gathering of officials. Alex is unable to fight back against an actor that taunts and attacks him, and becomes ill at the sight of a topless woman. The prison chaplain complains Alex has been robbed of his freewill, but the prison governor asserts that the Ludovico technique will cut down crime and alleviate crowding in the prisons.
Alex is let out as a free man, only to find his parents have sold his possessions as restitution to his victims, and have lent out his room. Alex encounters an elderly vagrant that he had attacked years earlier, and the vagrant and his friends attack him. Alex is saved by two policeman, but shocked to find they are his former droogs Dim and Georgie. They beat him up, drive him to the countryside, and nearly drown him before abandoning him. Alex barely makes it to the doorstep of a nearby home before collapsing.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Warren Clarke, Adrienne Corri, Clive Francis, Aubrey Morris, Miriam Karlin
Screenplay by: Stanley Kubrick
Production Design by: John Barry
Cinematography by: John Alcott
Film Editing by: Bill Butler
Costume Design by: Milena Canonero
Art Direction by: Russell Hagg, Peter Sheilds
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: February 2, 1972