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A Clockwork Orange (Warner Bros. Pictures, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee)

A Clockwork Orange: Famous for the controversy surrounding copycat violence and Kubrick’s decision to withdraw it in 1973, A Clockwork Orange can now be judged for what it is: an intelligent, visually stunning, disturbing and yet queasily entertaining adaptation of what was already a great work of literature

Adapted from Anthony Burgess’s slim best-selling novel written in the invented street slang Nadsat, A Clockwork Orange tells the story of Alex (McDowell) and his thug friends, addicted to mindless acts of violence, killing tramps and raping women. Equally violent is the state’s aversion therapy Alex is forced to endure to cure him of his addiction.

Director Kubrick’s decision to withdraw the film could be seen, cynically, as the ultimate marketing tool (after all, what film has been so notorious for so long?) but, more realistically, as a significant gesture in the annals of cinema history. The debate about whether he was the victim or instigator of the worst kind of knee jerk censorship, or even merely an artist exercising his right to choose who sees his work will run and run – not least because of Kubrick’s stony silence on the issue. The balletic violence is choreographed with an unsettling slickness, coming as a sharp jab to the kidneys. It is difficult to watch and impossible to tear your eyes from. And the film has far more to offer than violent sensationalism.

Malcolm McDowell Alexander DeLarge
Patrick Magee Mr. Alexander
Adrienne Corri Mrs. Alexander
Michael Bates Chief Guard
Warren Clarke Dim
James Marcus Georgie
Michael Tarn Pete
Carl Duering Dr. Brodsky
Paul Farrell Tramp
Miriam Karlin Catlady
Sheila Raynor Mum

Screenplay Stanley Kubrick
Director Stanley Kubrick
Producer Stanley Kubrick
Original Music Composer Wendy Carlos
Novel Anthony Burgess
Director of Photography John Alcott
Casting James Liggat
Associate Producer Bernard Williams
Costume Design Milena Canonero
Editor Bill Butler
Makeup Artist Barbara Daly

United Kingdom / Warner Bros. Pictures / 137 minutes / Released 1971-12-19

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