A Clockwork Orange

                                                                             

 

     Well, well, well! Well if it isn't fat stinking billy goat Billy Boy in poison!  How art thou,

           thou globby bottle of cheap stinking chip oil? Come and get one in the yarbles,

                      if ya have any yarble, ya eunuch jelly thou!

 

Set in a future England (1995, imagined from 1965), the film follows the life of a teenage boy named Alex DeLarge (McDowell) whose pleasures are classical music, rape, and extreme violence. He is the leader of a small gang of thugs, whom he refers to as his "droogs" (from the Russian word друг meaning friend or buddy). Alex narrates most of the film. He is irreverent and abusive of others; he lies to his parents to skip school and has an expensive stereo sound deck blasting his classics recordings collection.

After drinking narcotic-laden milk at the Korova Milk Bar, Alex and his droogs beat an old drunken tramp (an Irish immigrant) under a motorway flyover. They then proceed to a derelict casino, where a rival gang led by Billyboy are about to rape a woman. A fight between the two gangs ensues; Alex and his droogs emerge victorious and leave before the Police arrive. Alex and the gang steal a Durango 95 (a fictional sports car) for a drive into the countryside, where he leads his droogs in a home invasion, beating a reclusive writer named Mr. Alexander and raping his wife while singing and dancing to "Singin in the rain."

While skipping school for the day, Alex picks up two teenyboppers in a record shop, takes them home, and hurriedly has sex with them to the strains of the William Tell Overture.  Alex is soon faced by an attempted coup by two of his subordinate droogs, Georgie and Dim. Alex is slightly threatened, but seemingly deals with the problem by kicking the droogs into the bay as they walk along the "flatblock marina" and cuts the back of Dim's hand, demonstrating his leadership and unwillingness to be overthrown.

That night, Alex is caught during a burglary, a mutinous set-up by his ill-contented droogs. Alex breaks into a woman's house and uses a ceramic phallus to beat (and accidentally kill) the owner. Alex is then attacked by his droogs where he gets hit on the head with a milk bottle and left helpless at the scene of their crime to be caught by the police. After being arrested, he learns that his robbery victim has died, making Alex a murderer. He is sentenced to 14 years in prison.

After serving two years, he is offered a chance at parole if he submits to the Ludovico technique, an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government to solve societal crime. The technique involves being exposed to extreme depictions of on-screen violence under the influence of a nausea-inducing drug. Alex is unable to look away from the screen and has his head held immobile and each of his eyes held open by small speculums. Consequently, Alex is rendered incapable of violence, even in self-defence, and also incapable of touching a naked woman during a test of the technique. Sadly, in an unintended side effectthe technique has also rendered him averse to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the background score used in one of the films that is a montage of images of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi's; the scientist-doctors apologise: "It can't be helped", saying that musical aversion is "the punishment element, perhaps?"

Once Alex has successfully completed the therapy, he returns home, joyful at the thought of starting afresh. However, he is unpleasantly surprised by the discovery that his parents have rented out his room to a new young man, essentially "replacing" their son. With no place to go, stripped of the ability to defend himself, Alex despondently wanders London. He soon encounters the same Irish tramp, who, with his street friends, attacks the defenceless boy. He is then discovered by his two former droogs, Georgie and Dim, who have now become policemen. They take him into the outskirts of town, where they beat him and nearly drown him.

Alex wanders through the woods and unwittingly arrives upon the house of the writer whose wife he had raped and beaten earlier in the film. Mr. Alexander takes him in before discovering his identity; subsequently, he then drugs Alex and attempts to drive him insane with an electronic version of the Ninth Symphony (Second Movement) played at full volume below Alex's locked bedroom. The boy attempts suicide by jumping out a window, but survives. Thereby Alex conquers thanatophobia and inadvertently cures himself of his crippling psychological anguish.

During his long recovery in hospital, Alex is visited by the Minister of the Interior who earlier had personally selected Alex for the Ludovico treatment. He apologizes to Alex for the treatment's consequences, saying he was only following his staff's recommendations. He begins politically seducing Alex by presenting him with an enormous stereo playing the Ninth Symphony's finale (Fourth Movement), to which Alex listens with no physical reaction. The government promises Alex a job if he agrees to campaign on behalf of the ruling Conservative political party, whose public image has been severely damaged by Alex's attempted suicide. Anticipating his return to havoc, Alex relives his surreal fantasy of having sex with a woman in the snow, surrounded by applauding Victorian ladies and gentlemen. With the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in the background, Alex narrates the film's end: "I was cured, all right..."

 

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Movie Script

Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Produced by Si Litvinoff
Written by Anthony Burgess  Stanley Kubrick
Starring Patrick Magee
Malcolm McDowell
Music by Wendy Carlos
Rachel Elkind
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) December 19 1971
Running time 136 min.
Language English
Budget US$2.2 million

 

 

 

 

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