Thoughts on A Clockwork Orange

I finally got around to watching Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

Image by Adam Rablais (

Firstly, I’m stunned by how well the movie holds up visually. This thing was made in 1971. The Lord of the Rings looks dated today; a Clockwork Orange merely looks experimental. Why is this? Is it film vs digital? Or is it down to really good set design and color grading?

Secondly, I can understand why there was such a massive backlash in the United Kingdom against this movie. Apparently it was banned until 2000, and it’s hard not to see why. Other than the rape scene, the entire movie made me empathize with a pure sociopath. Hannibal Lecter would have been proud.

Thirdly, the sex. Almost every single scene has strong sexual imagery woven in. From the opening scene at the Kurova milk bar weird plastic penis-sculptures to the two girls’ lollipops to the corrections advisor. I don’t know why, but it adds very powerfully to the world that’s implied behind the story. It’s a world of plastic and sex and sometimes plastic sex.

And lastly, once the movie was done, the story. Apparently, the movie is extremely faithful to Anthony Burgess’ book, to the point where Kubrick and the actors would carry copies of the book around on set instead of dialogue. It’s clearly a masterpiece of storytelling.

I skimmed through an overview of the book and found that the two girls in the story were ten years old – and rather than having consensual sex with Alex, as implied in the movie, they’re actually raped.

I started reading around the book more. Anthony Burgess apparently wrote the book in three weeks (just three weeks!), creating the Russo-slang language of Nadsat along the way. Goals.