Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

A Clockwork Orange (1971)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

A Clockwork Orange (1971, UK)

In producer-director-screenwriter Stanley Kubrick's randomly ultra-violent, over-indulgent, graphically-stylized film of the near future - it was a terrifying, gaudy film adaptation of Anthony Burgess' 1962 satiric, futuristic novel of the same name. It was unique for its use of doublespeak slang-dialogue throughout, derived from Burgess' novel and filled with an onomatopoetic, expressive combination of English, Russian, and slang. Some words were decipherable in their contextual use, or as anglicized, portmanteau, rhymed, or clever transformations or amputations of words.

The striking and unforgettable film's poster and tagline advertised its themes of violence in a police state, teen delinquency, technological control, and dehumanization:

"Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven."

In the plot set in a futuristic, dystopic world of Britain, Alex - an "ultraviolent" juvenile delinquent leader of a gang of four anarchic thugs ("droogs"), went on various crime sprees and rampages of rape, theft, assault and murder, intensified by Alex's love of Ludwig von Beethoven's music. Alex's droogs were beginning to show signs of resentment of his forceful leadership and authoritarianism. Their most vicious gang-rape and assault was of a couple, the Alexanders, in their country home, to the tune of 'Singin' in the Rain.' Later, after also sexually attacking and killing a Catlady (a proprietess of a health farm) with an enlarged plastic sculpture of a phallus, Alex was arrested, charged, convicted, and imprisoned. Alex served a few years of his 14 year sentence, but then volunteered to participate in a program to be rehabilitated by behavioral programming (an example of aversion therapy known as the "Ludovico Technique"), to reduce his sentence to just two more weeks. It was an experimental criminal reform effort to cut crime and reduce prison overload, promoted by the government's Interior Minister.

During reconditioning, Alex was subjected to a total of 14 harsh treatments to rid him of his anti-social and violent tendencies, including the forced watching of films exhibiting rape, beatings, and Nazi atrocities, while he was drugged up and listening to the music of his favorite composer. Alex was supposedly 'cured' and now averse to violence and sexual assault. His rehabilitation was successfully demonstrated to an audience of government officials. However, according to the prison's Chaplain, he had been debased as a human being and deprived of his free will to choose between either good or evil. Alex was released and returned to his previous life, but found himself disabled and unable to cope, as he faced many of his former victims who sought revenge. A former vagrant he had beaten up attacked him with a group of other bums, and two of his resentful ex-droogs, now police officers, nearly drowned him in a cattle water trough.

In the company of vengeful leftist and subversive writer Mr. Alexander, Alex was manipulatively used as a political weapon, and was driven to commit suicide. He survived a jump from a second-story window, but then became a political pawn in the hands of anti-government protestors who vilified the Interior Minister for inhumane experimental tactics of criminal reform. Alex's 'Ludovico Treatment' was reversed and he received apologies for his previous harsh reconditioning, and was given promises of being cared for by the government. As the film concluded, Alex again experienced fantasies of sex and violence, and stated to himself: "I was cured, all right."

The frightening, chilling and tantalizing film (a morality play) raised many thematic questions and presented a thought-provoking parable: How can evil be eradicated in modern society? If the state can deprive an individual of his free will, making him 'a clockwork orange,' what does this say about the nightmarish, behavioral modification technologies of punishment and crime? Do we lose our humanity if we are deprived of the free-will choice between good and evil?

Originally rated X, A Clockwork Orange was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Screenplay, but was defeated in each category by William Friedkin's The French Connection (1971). It was one of only two movies rated X on its original release (the other was Midnight Cowboy (1969)) that was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award.

  • the title of the film was set against an orange-shaded background
  • the opening memorable image was a close-up of slyly grinning hoodlum Alex (Malcolm McDowell) wearing a bowler hat; one eye was decorated with a false eyelash staring directly at the camera, followed by the pull-back view of him lounging with his 'droogie' friends in the Korova Milk Bar with white furniture of submissive nude women; the image was accompanied by a voice-over beginning with: "There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs..."
  • Alex's "droog" gang members included Georgie (James Marcus), Dim (Warren Clarke), and Pete (Michael Tarn), all wearing large codpieces over their white protective combat suits; they were drinking spiked, hallucinogenic drink concoctions (called "milk-plus") served from the nippled breasts of the coin-operated mannequins, before an entertaining night of sado-masochistic mayhem
  • every night, the delinquent gang committed stylized but meaningless acts of terrorism including rape ("the old in-out, in-out"), robbery, and assaults; first, the youth gang mugged a drunken Tramp (Paul Farrell) who had sought refuge in a gutter under a pedestrian underpass
  • on the empty stage of a derelict, abandoned opera house/casino, a buxom rape victim or 'devotchka' (Shirley Jaffe) had her clothes torn off by five other mad-faced delinquents from the Billyboy (Richard Connaught) rival gang; from the shadows, Alex's gang observed and then challenged them to a fight, all synchronized with music from Rossini's The Thieving Magpie
  • afterwards, Alex and his gang escaped, crammed into a stolen sports car - a Durango-95, and went on a joyride; driving recklessly; they played "chicken" with other vehicles, exhilarated by the panic and excitement of forcing other cars and drivers off the road
  • at an opulent futuristic residence welcomingly marked with a lit "HOME" panel sign, the droog gang (wearing bizarre comical masks) entered and assaulted elderly husband Frank Alexander (Patrick Magee), a left-leaning novelist; both victims were bound and gagged and the house was ransacked; brutal kicks were delivered to the old man's body during the choreographed rape of his wife Mrs. Alexander (Adrienne Corri) wearing a red pajama suit; first, Alex attacked her breasts by snipping off two circles of jumpsuit cloth around them, and then slit her entire suit off from her pant leg upward prior to the rape; in the disturbing sequence, the blows to the husband's midsection were rhythmically punctuated with the lyrics of Singin' In The Rain (1952)
Assault and Choreographed Rape of the Alexanders in Their Home
  • after the night of debauchery, they briefly stopped back at the Korova Milk Bar for a nightcap, where Alex went into ecstasy by listening to a rendition of Schiller's Ode to Joy chorale movement from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony: "I felt all the malenky little hairs on my plott standing endwise and the shivers crawling up like slow malenky lizards and then down again. Because I knew what she sang. It was a bit from the glorious Ninth, by Ludwig van"; Alex also briefly quelled some protest, dissatisfaction and discontent with his leadership from a resentful Dim, who backed down and declined to fight
  • just before dawn, Alex returned to his trashed lower-class apartment, where he lived with his impotent, confused, weak and foolish parents Pee (Philip Stone) and violet-haired Em (Sheila Raynor) de Large wearing micro-skirts; while listening to a cassette tape of his favorite composer and classical piece, the Ninth Symphony, Alex laid back on his bed and moaned orgiastically: "Oh bliss, bliss and heaven. Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh..."

Alex's Bedroom

Alex's Father Pee de Large (Philip Stone)

Alex's Mother Em de Large (Sheila Raynor)
  • the next morning, Alex (still in his underwear) was confronted by his sexually-deviant, social worker/probation officer ("Post Corrective Adviser") Mr. Deltoid (Aubrey Morris), who cornered him on a bed, got handsy, and then cautioned and questioned his criminal behavior of the previous evening and his truancy from school - he even threatened jail time
Two Girls From Record Shop Invited to a Slapstick, Sped-Up Orgy in Alex's Bedroom - To the Tune of the William Tell Overture
  • later in the day, the stylishly-dressed Alex visited a local shopping mall record store, where he picked up two teenaged girls (brunette Marty (uncredited Barbara Scott) and redhead Sonietta (Gillian Hills)) licking lollipops; after inviting them to his home, in a sped-up, slapstick, group-sex orgy scene accompanied by the William Tell Overture, Alex had sex with both girls in his bedroom
  • to appease his gang members, Alex considered a suggestion from discontented droog Dim, who was leading a mutiny against him for being dictatorial, to score the "big, big, big money" for themselves; but then after suggesting that he would buy drinks, they walked along the flatblock marina to the bar; in graceful slow-motion, he thrust both Georgie and Dim into the water, and slashed the back of Dim's hand with a dagger; he completely subjugated them into submission by resuming power, as the group retired to the Duke of York restaurant
  • however, Alex did accept Georgie's scheme to visit and rob the almost-deserted, isolated Woodmere Health Farm outside of town: ("It's full up with like gold and silver, and like jewels"); it was owned by rich Englishwoman Miss Weathers, also known as the Catlady (Miriam Karlin); the inside of the facility was decorated with gigantic, modern pornographic art (lewd scenes of sexual intensity and bondage), and garish, decadent art objects; when she refused to open her door, Alex snuck through a 2nd floor window; he then approached and brutalized the lady with her enormous, white obscene phallus sculpture with testicles, while she fought back and dueled against him by wielding a bust of his beloved Beethoven; when she fell to the floor, Alex raised the white sculpture-weapon above her and plunged it down into her - filmed from a low angle
  • with the sound of approaching sirens, Alex raced for the front door, where henchman Dim struck him in the face with a milk bottle; he was blinded and left there to be arrested; with a large bloody-nosed bandage on his face, Alex was questioned in a police interrogation room; Alex's vindictive social worker Mr. Deltoid arrived and gleefully gloated about the bludgeoning murder of his victim: "You are now a murderer, little Alex. A murderer...I've just come from the hospital. Your victim has died," and then spit in his face

Alex Questioned


Subjected to Cavity Search
  • following his arrest and conviction by the totalitarian government for 1st-degree murder, Alex was sentenced to fourteen years in prison; in an extended scene, Alex was systematically inducted into H. M. Prison Parkmoor; he was stripped of his clothes, subjected to a rectal cavity search, and given a prison number and uniform
  • two years later into Alex's sentence, the Chaplain/Priest (Godfrey Quigley) threatened the inmates with a choice - "What's it going to be then?" - he offered them a choice between Hell's damnation or Heaven's redemption; Alex described his awful incarceration: "It had not been edifying, indeed not, being in this hellhole and human zoo for two years now"
  • to pass the time in the prison library, Alex read the Bible and imagined the more lurid and violent parts of the Old and New Testaments; he fantasized about being a Roman guard at the Crucifixion whipping Jesus, and thought of himself as an Old Testament warrior in battle, and afterwards surrounded by half-naked, bare-breasted handmaidens or concubines (Prudence Drage, Vivienne Chandler and Jan Adair) feeding him grapes

Alex Studying the Bible ("The Big Book") in the Prison Library

Alex's Fantasy of Being a Roman Guard Whipping Jesus

Alex's Fantasy of Eating Grapes with Bare Handmaidens (l to r: Prudence Drage, Vivienne Chandler, Jan Adair)
  • after learning about a new, experimental, brain-washing reprogramming treatment by the State against sex and violence called "aversion therapy," aka the Ludovico Treatment Technique, Alex expressed an interest in volunteering to become a subject to reduce his sentence to a mere two weeks longer; the Chaplain doubted the expedient treatment methods to cure anti-social behavior, considering them dangerous because they scientifically would deprive him of his humanity, and his free will and moral choice
  • during a visit to the prison, the Minister of the Interior (Anthony Sharp) advocated the imposition of the Ludovico Technique to clear the prison of mere "common criminals" so that there may be more room for "political offenders"; considered the perfect guinea-pig candidate, Alex was chosen for the controversial rehabilitation treatment, and transferred from the prison to the Ludovico Medical Center
  • during treatment including being injected with an experimental serum, Alex was transported to a screening room where his eyelids were painfully kept open with pitiless clamps, and he was forced to watch films (with a violent beating and gang-rape of a victim of Billyboy's gang (Cheryl Grunwald)) that deliberately followed the succession of crimes that Alex had committed with his droogs; he reacted to the torturous behavioral treatment: "When it came to the sixth or seventh malchick, leering and smecking and then going into it, I began to feel really sick. But I could not shut my glazzies. And even if I tried to move my glazz-balls about, I still could not get out of the line of fire of this picture"; the films were paired to an induced, convulsive nausea caused by the injections, part of the behavioral theory of conditioned-reflex therapy
  • on the second day of watching films to provide a cure, Alex was forced to watch scenes of Nazi atrocities paired to the Fourth Movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, and Alex pleaded with his doctors to stop playing his favorite piece of music; at his breaking point, Alex admitted and confessed that he was cured of his anti-social tendencies ("I've learned my lesson, sir"); as "a free man" but trained to become docile and harmless, Alex was destructively robbed of his individuality, personality and humanity by being transformed into a 'clockwork orange' - a compliant and mind-numbed citizen
Demonstration of the Effectiveness of Alex's Treatment to an Audience in an Auditorium - Alex's Revulsion At Touching the Female's Breasts
  • after two weeks (and presumably 12 more treatments), Alex attended an unusual graduation ceremony in an auditorium with dignitaries in attendance; the Minister of the Interior proudly introduced Alex to demonstrate the effectiveness of his behavioral modification and rehabilitation: ("The problem of criminal violence is soon to be a thing of the past"); when approached by an abusive, homosexual Irish actor named Lardface (John Clive) who insulted, taunted and attacked him and forced him to be subservient and lick his boots, Alex was unable to defend himself; he also became exceedingly sick and vomited when tempted to lustfully reach out and touch the breasts of a topless blonde stage actress (Virginia Wetherell) wearing only bikini panties who stood before him
  • although pronounced 'cured' by the Minister, the Chaplain argued that Alex had been deprived of his free will (and moral choices) with the shock therapy that had nauseated him; he was not a free man but "a clockwork orange" - a mechanically-responsive non-human
Newspaper Headlines of Murderer Alex's Release and Cure
  • Alex was released and returned home where he pronounced himself "cured," however, he discovered that his surprised and bewildered parents had displaced him with a teenaged renter named Joe (Clive Francis), who criticized Alex for making life with his parents miserable; Alex seemed completely unprepared and helpless to totally reenter society and cope with the real world; all of his things had been confiscated by the police; Alex started to contemplate committing suicide
  • for the remainder of the film, Alex was assaulted or rejected by the people from his past who had been his abused victims, and now sought retribution; the drunken old Tramp recognized him and other bums helped him to beat up Alex in a dark underpass; his two former gang members - Dim and Georgie - who were now in police uniforms, handcuffed him, dragged him into their car, drove him into the country, struck him all over his body with a blackjack club, and nearly drowned him in a cattle watering trough
  • next, the injured and bleeding Alex entered the HOME of the leftist, anti-government Dissident writer Mr. Alexander - the widower of the rape victim who was now impotent and crippled in a wheelchair, with weightlifter/male manservant Julian (David Prowse); Alex was recognized, not as the previous assaulter, but as the notorious subject-"victim" treated by the "horrible" Ludovico Technique of conditioning; believing he had been blessed by Providence, Mr. Alexander plotted to manipulatively use Alex as a political weapon, to discredit the Government's new approach to dealing with crime

Alex in the Home of Mr. Alexander and Manservant Julian

In Horror - Mr. Alexander Realized Alex's True Identity

Alex Drugged at the Dinner Table - And Falling Face-First into His Plate of Spaghetti
  • however, when Mr. Alexander heard Alex involuntarily humming "Singin' in the Rain" while taking a bath in the nearby room, a look of horror crossed his face when he realized that Alex was the hoodlum that had earlier invaded his house; Alex was drugged with wine at the dinner table, and fell face-first into his plate of spaghetti
  • two of Mr. Alexander's friends arrived - Dolin (John Savident) and a blonde female named Rubinstein (Margaret Tyzack); the fiendish conspirators took Alex to an upstairs attic bedroom in Dolin's Country Manor, to vengefully torture him by playing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at top volume; Alex attempted suicide by throwing himself from the 2nd floor window, but survived
  • Alex regained consciousness in a hospital with serious injuries, and wrapped head to toe in a body cast; Alex's death wish and attempt to kill himself had brought widespread protest, and prompted newspapers to criticize the government and the Minister of the Interior over its inhuman, brainwashing experiments, and for changing Alex's nature; Alex (dubbed the 'crime cure' boy) was now in the hands of opponents of the government, Dissidents, who wished to reverse his conditioning

Government Accused of Inhuman Treatment Methods After Alex's Suicide Attempt

Alex Recuperating in Hospital After Failed Suicide

Alex's Psychiatrist - Tests Revealed Alex Was Slowly Deconditioning and Making a "Complete Recovery"
  • a procession of individuals visited Alex in the hospital; his parents apologized for their behavior, blamed the government, and urged him to return home; psychiatrist Dr. Taylor (Pauline Taylor) realized that Alex's brain was slowly becoming deconditioned and that he was becoming his old self without any aversions to sex or violence; his reactions to a slide-show of cards revealed that he was 'recovering' from his "cure" and was again showing violent and sexual urges
  • the malleable Minister also visited, apologized for his past treatment, and promised to restore Alex to his previous condition so that he could find pleasure in violence once again; he spoon-fed Alex his food, and promised him a government job with great pay if he was supportive of the conservative Government's party and helped to sway public opinion in its favor during the next election; he also mentioned how the subversive and menacing Mr. Alexander, regarded as a political prisoner, had been institutionalized by the totalitarian government
  • as the film concluded, Alex was viewed as a celebrity in the hospital, surrounded by flowers and fruit, and Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" was broadcast over loud-speakers; the Minister posed for pictures with Alex; Alex's eyes rolled back in his head as he entered a dream reflecting his old, preconditioned behavior
The Apologetic Minister of the Interior Visited Alex, Spoon-Fed Him and Persuaded Him to Turn Public Opinion in His Favor For the Election; He Posed For Pictures With the Minister of the Interior - And Then His Eyes Rolled Back
  • in his fantasy dream, he was semi-'reborn' as he imagined himself nude and frolicking in slow-motion on piles of white snow while making love (it's unclear whether it's a rape fantasy?) to an equally-naked, beautiful blonde female (Katya Wyeth) astride him wearing only black silk stockings, while an audience of two rows of genteel Victorian Londoners sedately observed and applauded his return to criminality; Alex - in voice-over, triumphantly and sardonically delivered the film's closing line: "I was cured all right"; his words were followed by a hard cut to a bright orange title card pronouncing: 'Produced and Directed by Stanley Kubrick'
  • the film's implication was that Alex was not really cured although he was now healed of his psychic castration -- but in fact, he was still "a clockwork orange" lacking free will; the only difference was that now, he was programmed by the totalitarian government in the completely opposite direction, to now embrace immoral behavior
  • Gene Kelly's original rendition of Singin' in the Rain was heard during the end credits

Reverse Tracking Shot of Anarchic Leader of Gang of "Droogs" - Alex (Malcolm McDowell)

The Gang in a Korova Milk Bar Drinking Milk-Plus Laced With Drugs (l to r): Pete, Dim, Alex, Georgie

The Droogs Assaulting a Tramp in an Underpass

Alex's Rival Gang Led by Billy Boy Raping a Devotchka on an Opera House Stage Before A Gang Fight

Alex and the Droogs Joyriding in a Stolen Sports Car - a Durango 95

Novelist Mr. Alexander in his "HOME"

After a Night of Carousing, Dim Back at the Korova Milk Bar For a Nightcap

Alex in Ecstasy Listening to Beethoven's Ode to Joy

Dim's Weak Protest Against Alex's Leadership

Alex's "Bliss" Listening to Beethoven's 9th Symphony Back in His Bedroom

Alex's Handsy and Deviant Social Worker/Probation Officer ("Post Corrective Adviser") Mr. Deltoid (Aubrey Morris)

Walking Along the Marina With His Droogs Before Alex Asserted His Dominance

Penis-Sculpture Lethal Assault on Cat-Lady

Alex Struck in Face with a Milk Bottle - Blinded and Arrested

Two Years Later, The Prison's Chaplain: "What's it going to be, eh?"

Alex Selected to Participate in New Ludovico Treatment Technique by Minister of the Interior

Aversion Therapy While Watching Films of Violence, Gang-Rape and the Nazis

Demonstration to Show How Alex Had Been Successfully Cured

Although 'Cured' Acc. to the Minister of the Interior, Had Alex Lost His Free Will Acc. to the Priest?

Teenaged Renter Joe (Clive Francis) Displacing Alex in His Own Home

Former Droog Gang Members (Now Police Officers) Assaulting and Nearly Drowning Alex

New Torture Tactics Used Against Alex in Dolin's Country Manor - Forced to Listen to Music of Beethoven

Alex's Film-Ending Fantasy: "I was cured all right"


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