- A Clockwork Orange
- 1) (1960–1961)ANTHONY BURGESS’s novella was written early in his literary career, in 1960 and 1961. At the time, Burgess had been told that he had less than a year to live, and Clockwork was only one of several novels that he produced during an extraordinarily prolific year, in an attempt to leave his wife with as much financial security as possible.The story revolves around Alex, leader of a small band of teenaged hooligans who viciously terrorize London and its surrounding countryside in the vague near future of the 1980s or 1990s. Eventually, Alex is caught after he brutally kills a woman in a robbery attempt, and he is sent to prison. Through a bit of luck and boldness, Alex is selected for a new Pavlovian-Skinnerian kind of “treatment” for criminals, the Ludovico technique, which conditions him against violence using a combination of drugs and films, essentially taking away his capacity for moral choice. The name of the book and its main character carry numerous connotations, as Burgess explains in his book 1985: “I had always loved the Cockney phrase ‘queer as a clockwork orange’, that being the queerest thing imaginable [not necessarily sexually ‘queer’], and I had saved up the expression for years, hoping some day to use it as a title. When I began to write the book, I saw that this title would be appropriate for a story about the application of Pavlovian, or mechanical, laws to an organism which, like a fruit, was capable of colour and sweetness. But I had also served in Malaya, where the word for a human being is ‘orang. ’ . . . In Italy, where the book became Arancia all’ Orologeria, it was assumed that the title referred to a grenade, an alternative to the ticking pineapple. . . . The name of the antihero is Alex, short for Alexander, which means ‘defender of men. ’ Alex has other connotations—a lex: a law (unto himself); a lex(is): a vocabulary (of his own); a (Greek) lex: without a law. Novelists tend to give close attention to the names they attach to their characters. Alex is a rich and noble name, and I intended its possessor to be sympathetic, pitiable, and insidiously identifiable with ‘us,’ as opposed to ‘them. ’”Burgess’s original (unpublished) manuscript did not employ Nadsat—the patchwork, invented slang drawn from Russian, cockney, Gypsy, and rhyming baby-talk for which both novella and film are now famous—but rather the actual, contemporary street lingo of various British youth gangs of the day.Burgess later recalled, “This first version presented the world of adolescent violence and governmental retribution in the slang that was current at the time among the hooligan groups known as the Teddyboys and the Mods and Rockers. I had the sense to realise that, by the time the book came to be out, that slang would already be outdated, but I did not see clearly how to solve the problem of an appropriate idiolect for the narration. . . . My late wife and I spent part of the summer of 1961 in Soviet Russia, where it was evident that the authorities had problems with turbulent youth not much different from our own. The stilyagi, or style-boys, were smashing faces and windows, and the police, apparently obsessed with ideological and fiscal crimes, seemed powerless to keep them under. It struck me that it might be a good idea to create a kind of young hooligan who bestrode the iron curtain and spoke an argot compounded of the two most powerful political languages in the world—Anglo-American and Russian. ”At first, the resultant novella met with what Burgess called “an unaccountable delay” in publication. “ My literary agent was even dubious about submitting it to a publisher, alleging that its pornography of violence would be certain to make it unacceptable. I, or rather my late wife, whose Welsh blood forced her into postures of aggression on her husband’s behalf, reminded the agent that it was his primary job not to make social or literary judgments on the work he handled but to sell it. So the novella was sold to William Heinemann Ltd. in London. ” Burgess considered this publication to be the definitive version, with its 21 chapters intact (three sections of seven chapters each). That same year,W. W. Norton & Co. , Inc. , published an American edition, leaving off the 21st chapter, in which Alex “grows up” and realizes that he must become a responsible member of society. Burgess attached great thematic significance to the number 21, which represents in the United Kingdom and United States the age of full adult responsibility. Furthermore, he maintained that without the final chapter, the book is a mere fable, not a fully realized novel, as there is no real character development from beginning to end. Despite his protestations, according to Burgess, Norton would publish the book only on the condition that chapter 21 be cut: “The American publisher’s argument for truncation was based on a conviction that the original version, showing as it does a capacity for regeneration in even the most depraved soul,was a kind of capitulation to the British Pelagian spirit, whereas the Augustinian Americans were tough enough to accept an image of unregenerable man. I was in no position to protest, except feebly and in the expectation of being overborne: I needed the couple of hundred dollars that comprised the advance on the work.. . . I needed money back in 1961 . . . and if the condition of the book’s acceptance was also its truncation-well, so be it. ”Eric Swenson of W. W. Norton offered an alternate account in 1986, when, for the first time, the complete novella was published in the United States. “The author and his American publisher . . . differ in their memories as to whether or not the dropping of the last chapter, which changed the book’s impact dramatically, was a condition of publication or merely a suggestion made for conceptual reasons. ” The New York Times further quotes Swenson as asserting,“[ Burgess] responded to my comments by telling me that I was right, that he had added the 21st, upbeat chapter because his British publisher wanted a happy ending. ” The 1962 American edition also had added a Nadsat dictionary as an appendix, which Burgess found distasteful and unnecessary, and which was dropped from the 1986 version. Initially, the book received lukewarm reviews at best. In London, the reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement saw the book merely as a “nasty little shocker,” while other critics found Nadsat to be little more than a silly joke that did not quite come off.Burgess’s “nasty little shocker” attained a certain cult popularity, especially among disaffected American youth, who were chiefly taken with the book’s language—which, according to Burgess, “became a genuine teenage argot. ” Rock groups calling themselves “Clockwork Orange” sprang up on both coasts, and the Rolling Stones expressed interest in making a film version of A Clockwork Orange, but that project never came to fruition. In 1965, scenarist Ronald Tavel of Andy Warhol’s “Factory” adapted Burgess’s novella as the film Vinyl. In 64 n A Clockwork Orange the Village Voice, critic J. Hoberman describes the plot of the 70-minute film as “often indecipherable” and evoking “only the bare bones of the book. ” Directed and photographed by Warhol, Vinyl presents the strange story of a juvenile delinquent,Victor (Gerard Malanga), who is betrayed to the police by his sidekick, Scum Baby (Bob Olivo). After being tortured by the Doctor (Tosh Carillo) and professional sadists,Victor becomes a “useful” member of society.The first known stage version of A Clockwork Orange was adapted by John Godber and produced in 1980 at the Edinburgh Festival. In it, a wheelchairbound narrator, Alex II, presides over the proceedings, perched high above the stage on a platform, while Alex I enacts events onstage. This unpublished version was revived in “pub” theaters in 1982 and 1984. Partly in response to these unauthorized “amateur” adaptations, Anthony Burgess wrote his own theatrical version, published in 1987 as A Clockwork Orange: a Play with Music. This official dramatization unfolds in two acts, and closes with a banal song by Alex and the company, set to the tune of “Ode to Joy”:Do not be a clockwork orangeFreedom has a lovely voice.Here is good, and there is evil-Look on both, then take your choice.As they sing, “a man bearded like Stanley Kubrick” comes on, playing “Singin’ in the Rain” as counterpoint, on trumpet, and the company kicks him off the stage as the play ends.Another authorized musical version, A Clockwork Orange 2004, debuted in 1990 at the Royal Shakespeare Company, with book by Burgess and music by U2 band members Bono and the Edge. After selling out the initial 35 performances—due in large measure to the rock score, no doubt—the show moved to the Royal Theatre in the West End. In the mid-1990s, various stage adaptations appeared in U. S. cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago.References■ Hoberman, J. ,“Vinyl” (film review), Village Voice, April 17, 1978■ p. 51Hitchcock,Victor Paul,“A Clockwork Orange,” in Tibbetts, John C. , and James M. Welsh, Novels into Film (New York: Facts On File, 1999), pp. 36–37■ Hutchings,William,“‘What’s It Going to Be Then, Eh?’:The Stage Odyssey of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange,” Modern Drama, 34, no. 1 (March 1991): 35–48■ Kubrick-Hobbs, Katharina, “FAQ,” http://www.visualmemory.co.uk/faq/kckh.html■ Lund, Christian,“A Clockwork Orange,” http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/3111/aco.htm■ Nelson, Chris, A Clockwork Orange:Wendy Carlos’s Complete Original Score, “Switch On: Switch Off,” CD liner notes, (Minneapolis: East Side Digital, 1998).2) Warner Bros. , 137 minutes, December 1971 Producers: Stanley Kubrick, Si Litvinoff, Max L. Raab, Bernard Williams; Director: Kubrick; Screenplay: Kubrick, based on the novel by Anthony Burgess; Cinematographer: John Alcott; Assistant directors: Derek Cracknell, Dusty Symonds;Art director: Russell Hagg, Peter Shields; Costume design: Milena Canonero; Production design: John Barry; Film editor: Bill Butler; Sound editor: Brian Blamey; Cast: Malcolm McDowell (Alex DeLarge), Patrick Magee (Frank Alexander), Michael Bates (Chief Guard Barnes),Warren Clarke (Dim/Officer Corby), John Clive (stage actor),Adrienne Corri (Mrs. Alexander), Carl Duering (Dr. Brodsky), Paul Farrell (tramp), Clive Francis (Joe the Lodger), Michael Gover (prison governor), Miriam Karlin (Cat Lady), James Marcus (Georgie), Aubrey Morris (P. R. Deltoid), Godfrey Quigley (prison chaplain), Sheila Raynor (Mrs. DeLarge), Madge Ryan (Dr. Branum), John Savident (Z. Dolin), Anthony Sharp (minister), Philip Stone (Mr. DeLarge), Pauline Taylor (Dr. Taylor), Margaret Tyzack (Rubinstein), Steven Berkoff (constable), Lindsay Campbell (detective) Michael Tarn (Pete), David Prowse (Julian), Jan Adair (handmaiden), John J. Carney (CID man), Vivienne Chandler (handmaiden), Richard Connaught (Billy Boy), Prudence Drage (handmaiden), Carol Drinkwater (Nurse Feeley), Cheryl Grunwald (rape victim), Gillian Hills (Sonietta), Craig Hunter (doctor), Virginia Wetherell (stage actress), Katya Wyeth (girl).The underground writer, TERRY SOUTHERN, who had collaborated with STANLEY KUBRICK on the script for DR. STRANGELOVE, OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB, sent a copy of ANTHONY BURGESS’s 1961 novella A Clockwork Orange to Kubrick, who was then immersed in the production of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. But he didn’t have time to read the book, much less to consider it as a film project. Not to be deterred, Southern himself bought a six-month option on the novella for about $1,000 against a purchase price of $10,000, according to VINCENT LOBRUTTO. Southern adapted the book into a screenplay, which he shopped around unsuccessfully to several producers.When Kubrick finally got around to reading the novella, he was immediately interested in bringing it to the screen. He told film critic Penelope Houston, “I started to read the book and finished it in one sitting. By the end of Part One, it seemed pretty obvious that it might make a great film. By the end of Part Two, I was very excited about it. As soon as I finished it, I immediately re-read it. . . . The story was of a size and density that could be adapted to film without oversimplifying it or stripping it to the bones. ” By this time, Terry Southern had let his option drop, unable to afford the renewal fee, and the property had been picked up by his attorney, SI LITVINOFF, and another friend, Max Raab. Litvinoff and Raab sold it to Stanley Kubrick for a hefty profit. Although Terry Southern offered his services as screenwriter,Kubrick decided to go it alone, without a script collaborator. This marked the first of only two times that the director would be the sole screenwriter on one of his films. Kubrick remarked on several occasions that he found Burgess’s book to be ideally adaptable to film, so apparently he saw no need of any outside help with the screenplay. So much of what makes A Clockwork Orange such a remarkable work of cinematic art has to do with two pervasive stylistic elements: the eye-popping visuals and the revolutionary musical score. On the former, Kubrick’s chief collaborators were production designer JOHN BARRY and cinematographer JOHN ALCOTT, and on the latter, the amazing team of WENDY (WALTER) CARLOS and Rachel Elkind.Although virtually all of A Clockwork Orange was shot on location, one should not underestimate Barry’s contribution to the film’s rather singular look. Indeed, many of the existing locations had to be revamped entirely for shooting, as was the case with the DeLarge family apartment. Actor Clive Francis (“Joe the Lodger”) described shooting the scene in which Alex returns home from the Ludovico clinic, in an interview with Gene Siskel in 1972:“Kubrick searched all over London for the right apartment. He finally found one in Elstree. After he paid off and kicked out the couple that were living in it, he brought in his designer, and together they completely redecorated it, with tacky, futuristic furnishings, at a cost of about £5,000. After we had completed shooting, and the apartment had been returned to its original condition and returned to the couple, I got a call from Kubrick. He wanted to re-shoot two close-ups. We went back to the apartment in Elstree. The couple was again paid off and kicked out, and Kubrick again had the apartment completely redecorated. ” John Baxter reports that the mannequin furniture in the Korova Milk Bar was inspired by the sculptures of London pop artist Allen Jones, who had caused a sensation with three pieces of “furniture” based on the female nude in bondage. When Jones declined to have his work used in the film, Kubrick hired Liz Moore, who had done the “Star Child” model for 2001:A Space Odyssey, to create the unforgettable signature pieces seen in the Korova. In Literature/ Film Quarterly, Vivian Sobchak argues quite successfully that,“Kubrick has purposefully used the film’s decor to cinematically say what the novel only suggests: Art and Violence are two sides of the same coin, both the expression of that anti-social urge toward self-definition which equally characterizes the artist and the criminal. . . . Art and Violence spring from the same source; they are both expressions of the individual, egotistic, vital, and non-institutionalized man. ”As a counterpoint to the violent and quasipornographic nature of most of the artworks in A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick includes a relatively serene painting, visible in the scenes at the writer’s home, painted by his wife, the artist CHRISTIANE KUBRICK. An elaborate, crowded depiction of flowers and seedlings inside a greenhouse, Seedboxes offers not only a balance between nature and human constructs, common in Christiane Kubrick’s work (and perfectly suited to the themes of A Clockwork Orange), but also a glimpse into a slice of life on the grounds of the Kubrick estate. Many of Christiane Kubrick’s still-lifes and landscapes portray the everyday surroundings of the home she shared with her husband, daughters, and dogs and cats; Seedboxes is no exception. In the painting, two windows at the back of the greenhouse look out on a large, immaculate clearing, at the back of which stands a tent, with a game of Ping-Pong in progress inside. Vincent LoBrutto reasonably speculates that one of the players very well could be Stanley Kubrick. (Indeed, Stanley Kubrick was occasionally depicted in his wife’s work, notably in a portrait simply entitled, Stanley. )A crucial contributor to the futuristic post-noir look of the film, director of photography John Alcott told American Cinematographer, “A Clockwork Orange employed a darker, obviously dramatic type of photography. It was a modern story, taking place in an advanced period of the 1980s—although the period was never actually pinpointed in the picture. That period called for a really cold, stark style of photography. ” With so much location shooting,Kubrick and Alcott needed new, faster lenses in order to shoot in natural light under circumstances that would have been impossible before. When situations called for additional, artificial light, Kubrick and Alcott primarily used the “practicals,” or lights actually seen in the set, using photoflood bulbs. This approach allowed for 360-degree pans and also removed the necessity of setting up bulky studio lights, thus saving precious time on the shooting schedule. The overall result is a curious blend of gritty realism and futuristic starkness. Equally innovative as the visual style is the film’s deployment of a wide range of music on the score. As in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick infuses A Clockwork Orange with an often contrapuntal use of existing musical recordings, simultaneously giving new meaning to the music itself. The elements of visual style and musical scoring have their most rewarding meetings in the beautifully choreographed, highly stylized fight scenes, as Kubrick describes them to Penelope Houston: “Well, of course the violence in the film is stylized, just as it is in the book. My problem, of course, was to find a way of presenting it in the film without benefit of the writing style. The first section of the film that incorporates most of the violent action is principally organized around the Overture to Rossini’s Thieving Magpie, and, in a very broad sense, you could say that the violence is turned into dance, although, of course, it is in no way any kind of formal dance. But in cinematic terms, I should say that movement and music must inevitably be related to dance, just as the rotating space station and the docking Orion space ship in 2001 moved to ‘The Blue Danube. ’ From the rape on the stage of the derelict casino, to the superfrenzied fight, through the Christ figures cut to Beethoven’s Ninth, the slow-motion fight on the water’s edge, and the encounter with the cat lady where the giant white phallus is pitted against the bust of Beethoven, movement, cutting, and music are the principal considerations—dance?” In Velvet Light Trap, Walter Evans astutely points out, “Kubrick reminds the viewer . . . that Beethoven’s art—like that of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, and most of the world’s greatest artists—is both profoundly violent and profoundly sexual. . . . Throughout, Kubrick obliquely yet powerfully reminds us that there could be no Christianity without violence, no Christ without a crucifixion. ” Perhaps the most iconic juxtaposition of sexual content and classical music in the cinema occurs in the ménage à trois in Alex’s bedroom, which is set to an electronic version of the William Stanley Kubrick directing A Clockwork Orange (1971) (Kubrick estate) Tell Overture. Kubrick told Penelope Houston: “. . . The high-speed orgy—this scene lasts about forty seconds on the screen and, at two frames per second, took twenty-eight minutes to shoot. I had the idea one night while listening to Eine kleine Nachtmusik. The vision of an orgy suggested itself, shot at two frames per second. As it worked out in the film, though, the fast movement William Tell was more suitable to the purpose of the scene. ”Wendy Carlos (then Walter Carlos) together with a longtime associate, producer Rachel Elkind, had revolutionized classical music through the use of the Moog synthesizer on such albums as Switched on Bach. They created the first electronic “vocal” musical recording, of the choral movement of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9. Carlos felt that an introductory piece was needed, to ease the listener into the synthesized Beethoven, and for that purpose composed “Timesteps,” which was heavily inspired by Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange. When Carlos and Elkind learned that Stanley Kubrick was doing a film version of the book, they sent tapes of “Timesteps” and the choral movement to Kubrick’s office. In short order, Kubrick brought them on board to supply the lion’s share of music in the film; indeed, Carlos and Elkind’s music constitutes one of the most stunningly original aspects of the film, truly unforgettable and unique among film scores.On the whole, critical reception for Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange was quite positive, and the New York Film Critics Circle not only named it the best film of the year, but the eminent group also honored Kubrick with the award for best director. No less a personage that Luis Buñuel declared, “It is the only movie about what the modern world really means. ” Hollis Alpert of Saturday Review hailed Kubrick as “this country’s most important filmmaker,” and furthermore averred, “It is doubtful that any novel has ever been adapted for the screen as brilliantly as this one. ” Judith Crist of New York magazine lauded the film as “a stunningly original work even as it does full justice to Anthony Burgess’s novel. ” Vincent Canby of the New York Times chimed in:“It is brilliant, a tour de force of extraordinary images, music, words, and feelings, a much more original achievement for commercial films than the Burgess novel is for literature. ” Rex Reed, in the Daily News, called it “Kubrick’s greatest achievement. . . . The majesty and greatness of this film lie not only in its moral, but in every aspect of Kubrick’s mastery over the art of film itself. . . . A Clockwork Orange is one of the few perfect movies I have seen in my lifetime. ”A few glaring exceptions to this chorus of praise include critics Stanley Kauffmann, Andrew Sarris (who goaded his readers to see the film for themselves, “and suffer the damnation of boredom”), and Pauline Kael. Kael complains that, during the scenes of rape and beatings, “the viewer may experience them as an indignity and wish to leave,” and a few paragraphs later, declares that Kubrick intends us to “enjoy the rapes and beatings,” suggesting that Kubrick simply fails to hit the mark of his evil aim. Further, she chides Kubrick for offering us “the pleasure of watching that gang strip the struggling girl they mean to rape,” yet nothing in the film suggests that viewers are supposed to find pleasure in this act. The film’s ironic tone succeeds in putting audiences on Alex’s side, in making him attractive despite his repellent acts, but Kael interprets this mood as “exultant. ” She further criticizes Kubrick for his use of the static camera to allegedly ponderous, limp effect: “When Alex’s correctional officer visits his home and he and Alex sit on a bed, the camera sits on the two of them. When Alex comes home from prison, his parents and the lodger who has displaced him are in the living room;Alex appeals to his seated, unloving parents for an inert eternity. ” Other critics consider this essential to the unsettling effect of the scenes.In a statement released to the press in 1973, Anthony Burgess—potentially the film’s harshest critic—asserts: “My feeling about Stanley Kubrick’s film has not substantially changed since I first saw the film in late 1971. I think it is a remarkable work, and is as truthful an interpretation of my own book as I could ever hope to find . . . Most of the statements I’m alleged by journalists to have made have in fact been distortions of what I have really said. This can be blamed on the difficulties of telephonic communications between Rome, where I live, and London. But it can chiefly be blamed on the scrambling apparatus which resides in the brains of so many journalists. ”Either Burgess’s opinion did change over the years, or the “scrambling apparatus” continued to do its work. In 1987, Variety contended that Burgess found the film to be “not a real adaptation of the book,” because its “very visual” nature failed to do justice to the verbal qualities of the text. Variety reported in 1972 that Kubrick maintained a level of virtually unprecedented input with WARNER BROS. regarding the release pattern for the film. His office amassed two years’ worth of data on every theater in every city covered by Variety’s weekly box-office reports. From this, Kubrick determined what he thought to be the best theater for A Clockwork Orange in most major U. S. markets. Leo Greenfield, then vice president of U. S. sales for Warner Bros. , found Kubrick’s suggestions to be astute, and he followed them, to great box-office success. In its first two weeks of release, the film broke house records in New York,Toronto, and San Francisco. Kubrick’s business acumen prompted Ted Ashley, then head of Warner, to tell stockholders that Kubrick’s “genius” lay in his ability to combine aesthetics and fiscal responsibility. Advance ad campaigns for A Clockwork Orange ran with no Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating listed. Just four days before the December 19, 1971, opening, the ratings administration slapped an X rating on the film, over which Kubrick purportedly had final cut. That version ran for nine months in major U. S. markets. Then,Kubrick reedited the film slightly, in order to get an R rating from the MPAA. A total of 30 seconds was cut from two sequences and replaced with an equal amount of less explicit footage from those same scenes: the undercranked, fast-motion ménage à trois involving Alex and the two young girls, and the gang-rape film Alex is forced to watch during the Warren Clarke, Malcolm McDowell, and James Marcus in A Clockwork Orange (1971) (Kubrick estate) Ludovico treatment. Variety reported that Kubrick felt that “no one but the MPAA will be able to tell the difference. ” Critics of the ratings system found new fuel for their attacks in the fact that the MPAA demanded cuts in sexual content but did not object to the film’s portrayal of violence. Kubrick, ever as much a canny businessman as an artist, recognized the commercial necessity of an R rating, and he personally communicated with Dr. Aaron Stern, head of the MPAA ratings board, to thrash out the changes. Industry opinion speculated that the MPAA had considerably softened its request for changes since its prerelease demands. Still, the New York Times chided Kubrick for making the revisions, decrying them as “a particularly tawdry sell-out. ” Per industry regulations, the film had to be withdrawn from release for 60 days before the new R rating became official, so Warner Bros. withdrew the X version in October 1972, so that the R version could be released to the remaining markets in time for the Christmas holiday. A Clockwork Orange opened to tremendous success in Kubrick’s adopted home of Great Britain. It was the first film ever to run for more than a year at the Warner West End Theatre in London. Furthermore, it subsequently ran an additional year in a “moveover” at the Cinecenta, pulling in more than $2. 5 million in nationwide film rental, a figure that Variety hailed as “phenomenal. ”Despite such bravura box-office performance, Kubrick withdrew A Clockwork Orange from distribution in Great Britain in 1974. Philip French asserts that it “suddenly disappeared from British screens. . . . Most people were unaware of its having been withdrawn until 1979, when no copy was available for the National Film Theatre’s Kubrick retrospective. . . . That Kubrick was behind the picture’s withdrawal is certain, but his motives remain obscure. The rumour that the lives of the director and his family had been threatened if it were not withdrawn has not been substantiated, and even seems to have been denied. ” That rumor finally has been substantiated by Kubrick’s family. His adopted daughter, Katharina Kubrick, contributes generously to an “FAQ” (frequently asked questions) site on the Internet that is devoted to answering questions from fans about her father’s life and films. There, she states quite plainly that Stanley Kubrick received death threats against himself and his family over A Clockwork Orange, and that he withdrew the picture from distribution as a direct result of those threats. This has been confirmed by ANTHONY FREWIN, longtime assistant to Stanley Kubrick and now a representative of the Kubrick estate.In October 1993, Channel Four tested the selfimposed British “ban” on Clockwork by including clips in a 25-minute documentary about the film, using 12 minutes and 30 seconds of footage. The program focused on Kubrick’s withdrawal of the film from British distribution, citing copycat crimes as the reason behind the decision. Warner Bros. sued, but Channel Four was victorious, as the court ruled that the broadcaster was within “fair use” rights in including clips in a journalistic piece. Also in 1993, Time Warner sued the Scala Cinema Club in King’s Cross for illegally showing a bootleg copy of the movie. The Scala went out of business as a result. The New York Times reported that the reasons for the film’s withdrawal in the first place remained unclear, and that Time Warner refused to comment on the film or the distribution ban, and that efforts to reach Kubrick or his agent were unsuccessful. Furthermore, the article refers to numerous copycat crimes reported in the London papers of 1971: “In Lancashire, a young woman was raped by a gang of youths who sang ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ in imitation of Gene Kelly, just as Alex and the droogs did in the film. In another case, in which a 16-year-old wearing the white overalls, black bowler and combat boots favored by Alex was convicted of a savage beating, a British judge told the court,‘We must stamp out this horrible trend, which has been inspired by this horrible film. ’” Finally, in March 2000, a year after Stanley Kubrick’s death, A Clockwork Orange was rereleased in Great Britain.Back in the United States, the film helped on some level to raise awareness of experimental behaviormodification and aversion-therapy techniques that were actually being used in U. S. prisons at the time. A 1974 article for the NewYork Times by Nick DiSpoldo, a writer and Arizona prison inmate, chronicles the use of electric shock “therapy” on prisoners as punishment to reduce the strength of will of those inmates considered to be politically dangerous or rebellious. Arizona state senator John Roeder introduced a “Clockwork Orange” bill in order to curb such heinous practices. More than being merely a curious anecdote, this example illustrates the vast extent to which A Clockwork Orange has entered the collective consciousness of American culture. There is one major thematic point in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange that merits detailed attention here: the film’s unrelenting condemnation of fascism. To mount a successful narrative analysis of any film, one must first make a sequential list of important narrative events, a process which film scholar David Bordwell and others have called “segmentation. ” This involves breaking the film down into rational narrative chunks, or segments, which may or may not coincide with scenes of the film, but mark narrative development occurring within a unified space and time. Thus, the following segmentation of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is offered:1. Alex introduces himself and his droogs, in the Korova Milk Bar.2. Alex and droogs attack an elderly homeless man.3. In the derelict casino, Alex and droogs attack Billy Boy and company.4. Alex and droogs take a spin in the Durango 95, through “real country dark. ”5. Alex and droogs pay a surprise visit to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander.6. Back at the Korova for a nightcap, Alex disciplines Dim for being rude after hearing a woman sing “Ode to Joy. ”7. Alex goes back to his apartment complex.8. Alex prepares for bed.9. Listening to Beethoven’s Ninth, Alex masturbates and fantasizes.10. Next morning, Alex claims to be too sick for school. Mum and Dad discuss.11. Mr. Deltoid pays Alex a surprise visit.12. Alex shops for records and picks up two girls.13. Alex and the girls have prolonged sex, to the William Tell Overture.14. Droogs pay Alex a surprise visit, talk of a “new way” in which Alex will no longer lead.15. Alex attacks Georgie and Dim to put them back in line.16. At the Duke of New York, Georgie tells his plan to pull a big job.17. Alex breaks in and attacks the Cat Lady, while the droogs wait outside. They betray him, and the police arrive.18. Police interrogate Alex. Mr. Deltoid arrives, with news of the Cat Lady’s death.19. Alex enters prison and encounters Chief Guard Barnes for the first time.20. Prison chaplain gives sermon; Alex operates overhead transparency of hymns.21. In the prison library, Alex has erotic and violent fantasies inspired by the Bible.22. Alex asks the chaplain about the new (Ludovico) treatment he has heard about.23. Minister of the interior visits the prison and chooses Alex to participate in the Ludovico treatment.24. Prison governor (warden) speaks with Alex.25. Alex enters the Ludovico clinic.26. Dr. Branson gives Alex his first injection of experimental serum number 114.27. Alex watches films and gets sick.28. Dr. Brannon explains that, thanks to the treatment, Alex is getting healthier.29. Alex views more films, one of which is scored with Beethoven’s Ninth. He screams in protest.30. Minister of the interior demonstrates the success of the cure, by having Alex perform on stage.31. Alex returns home to discover he is not welcome.32. After contemplating suicide, Alex is attacked by homeless man from segment 2, along with others.33. Georgie and Dim, now police officers, attack Alex.34. Disoriented, Alex stumbles upon the Alexanders’ home from segment 5. He immediately recognizes Mr. Alexander, who eventually recognizes Alex.35. Mr. Alexander’s political friends arrive and talk to Alex, who passes out, presumably from drugged wine.36. Locked in a room, Alex is forced to listen to Beethoven’s Ninth, as Mr. Alexander and company wait below. Alex attempts suicide, jumping from a second-story window.37. Alex emerges from his comatose state in the hospital, wearing numerous casts.38. Newspaper montage indicates that the current government (and the minister of the interior) are blamed for Alex’s tragedy.39. Dad and Mum visit Alex in hospital.40. Alex takes a psychiatric test.41. Minister of the interior visits Alex in hospital and offers him a deal. The visit culminates in a photo opportunity and the gift of an expensive stereo system, blaring Beethoven.42. Alex fantasizes about sex on a ski slope, reflecting,“I was cured all right. ”At first glance, this segmentation may appear to be a mere list of scenes. However, it allows one to notice some larger narrative chunks or “supersegments. ”On the one hand,we could break the film down into the classical “beginning, middle, and end,” which would also correspond to the three major sections of Burgess’s book. However, a more useful grouping of segments results in five, not three, supersegments. Segments 1 through 18 could be labeled “Alex as criminal and free individual. ” Segments 19 through 24 constitute “Alex in prison. ” Segments 25 through 30 are “Alex’s treatment. ” Segments 30 through 36 comprise “Revenge upon Alex,” and finally, “Alex’s reward” consists of segments 37 through 42. An analysis of the character interactions in Kubrick’s film reveals a number of key relationships between Alex and various institutions, represented by synecdochal characters: the family, represented by Mum and Dad; religion, represented by the prison chaplain; the medical establishment, represented by the doctors at the Ludovico clinic, as well as the psychiatrist and other doctors in the hospital; the cultural elite, represented chiefly by Mr. Alexander and his political friends, and also by the “sophistos” in the Korova Milk Bar. But the most important relationship in the film exists between Alex and the government, represented severally on the one hand by the minister of the interior, the police, and the penal system, and countered on the other hand by those operating outside the law—the criminal element, represented by many characters, most importantly Georgie, Dim, Alex himself, of course, and even the aforementioned representatives of “the law” as they also engage in criminal activities.These relationships, considered in tandem with the five supersegments identified above, yield insight into the film’s narrative trajectory. At first,Alex operates completely outside the law and establishment. Rather than working for a living, he merely “plucks from the trees” any material goods he desires, and he fulfills his violent sexual appetite chiefly through rape and other brutality, as well as transgressive, casual sex. The fact that all of the events depicted in segments 1 through 17 take place within just two days suggests that this is a typical slice of Alex’s life. While Alex has had run-ins with the law before, the results have been none too serious, as we gather from Mr. Deltoid’s dialogue in segment 11, where he identifies himself as Alex’s postcorrective adviser and warns that any future infractions will land Alex in prison, rather than the juvenile correctional facility where we presume Alex has been more than once before. Eventually, though, Alex’s crimes become severe enough and newsworthy enough to warrant retaliation from the power structure, and Alex goes to prison as punishment. There is no question whether prison life might rehabilitate Alex. On the contrary, the experience merely introduces Alex to forms of manipulation subtler than the gross violence he had practiced hitherto. In the words of the minister of the interior, prison teaches Alex “the false smile, the rubbed hand of hypocrisy, the fawning, greased, obsequious leer,” as well as reconfirming him in his past bad habits. The scornful, sadomasochistic Chief Guard Barnes clearly derives equal pleasure from bending Alex to his will—forcing him to empty his pockets in a certain way, from behind a white line, making it difficult for Alex to put things down “properly,” then to strip and submit to an intimate physical examination and a humiliating series of questions—as from himself taking a submissive role in the presence of the governor, the minister, and anyone else in a position of authority. This model clearly has far less to do with rehabilitation than with a fascistic beating down of individual will—the forcible enactment of a lawand-order approach to government.In the next supersegment,Alex’s “cure” is far from a humane one. Rather,Alex is merely used as a pawn in a power play by the political party recently risen to prominence. Although it may appear to be kinder and gentler than prison life, the Ludovico treatment is equally forcible, and it offers a brand of torture rendered even more disturbing by its veneer of benevolence. While Alex sits in the “chair of torture,” pleading that the doctors not use Beethoven in the procedure, Dr. Brodsky comments privately that “here’s the punishment element, perhaps; the governor ought to be pleased. ” Upon Alex’s release, he embarks upon a series of encounters in which he must face elements from his past, and in which prior situations are negated, in what Kubrick called “an almost magical coincidence of retribution. ” His sudden reappearance at home catches his parents off guard, as they had been unaware of the turn in Alex’s fate until that very morning, when they read of his release in the newspapers. Having formerly lorded it over his “P and M,” Alex now finds himself at their mercy, his status in the household little more than that of a beggar turned up at the door. The “bad son” has been replaced by the “good son,” the lodger Joe, and one gets the impression that P and M, having enjoyed their months of peaceful living, have no intention of going back to life with Alex as it was before. If their turning him out is not an act of vengeance, at least it is done with only a pretense of regret. With nowhere to turn, and still feeling the effects of the illness brought on by his argument with Joe, Alex contemplates suicide as he stares into the dark, calmly swirling currents of the Thames. As if fate had led Alex to this particular spot by the river, the bum whom Alex and his droogs attacked in segment 2 appears, using the same words as before: “Can you spare some cutter, me brother?” Quickly recognizing Alex as his former assailant, the tramp rallies his cronies around, and they kick and beat the defenseless youth, with a bizarre glee in their sudden, presumably rare moment of power over the young. Then, in what may be the film’s most striking irony, Georgie and Dim, now officers of the law, arrive to break up the fracas. They take the horrified Alex to a remote spot on the outskirts of town, where they arduously torture him, almost to the point of death. Their laughter and cheerful manner disguise neither their rancorous motives nor the sadistic pleasure they take in inflicting pain on their former droog and deposed leader. The last character to take vengeance on Alex is Frank Alexander, the writer. Having drugged Alex’s wine and enlisted the help of his companion, Julian, and two political conspirators, Frank subjects Alex to perhaps the cruelest torture of all, incessantly playing Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 until Alex can stand no more and attempts suicide-almost successfully—by jumping from a secondstory window. As Alex screams for mercy from upstairs, Mr. Alexander listens joyfully from below, wringing his hands and fluttering his eyes in a state of near orgasmic bliss (and bearing a disturbing resemblance to Beethoven himself ). And Mr. Alexander’s dialogue has already belied his progressive veneer, revealing an underlying tendency toward fascism:“The common people must be led! Driven! Pushed!” F. Alexander, like all the characters who were victimized in one way or another by Alex, all too readily takes on the role of gleeful victimizer, given the least opportunity.Before considering the final section of the film, rhetorically labeled here as “Alex’s reward,” we must address the question: For what is Alex rewarded? Certainly not for his earlier actions against the law, nor for his “good behavior” in prison, and indeed not really even as compensation for his suffering as a result of the Ludovico treatment. In fact, Alex is not “rewarded” so much as he is “paid off,” in exchange for his willingness to “go along,” to become, if not a “productive” member of “society,” then at least to become a non-disruptive one—to fit into the system, to become essentially a cog in the clockwork of the status quo, his initial threat to which was the source of all his troubles. So, the end of the film is even more cynical than other analyses have allowed. Although much has been made of the overt theme of the book and film—that free will makes the man and that it is better to have an evil man than a robot incapable of choice—the film actually goes beyond this theme, for so little (if any) of the events in the film have anything to do with good or evil. We have already seen that Alex’s victims lie ready to attack him at the first opportunity, so they can hardly be called “good. ” If they are not good, is Alex evil to have attacked them in the first place? And in the fictional world as in the real one, the law has nothing to do with morality; rather it is merely a fascist complex of power relationships. Individual characters shift easily from one side of the law to the other—Georgie, Dim, and the police are prime examples—and at any given moment, those on the right side of the law can be infinitely more sadistic than those on the wrong side. No, this film is not primarily about impulses of good and evil. Those concepts arise only in the laughable pleadings of the prison chaplain, who even during a sermon says “damn you” to members of his congregation. While Alex’s narration in Burgess’s book does explicitly iterate the theme that good must be chosen and not enforced, Kubrick wisely eliminates that overt thematic statement from his film (except, again, as it comes from the mealymouthed chaplain), allowing a more complex theme to emerge. Kubrick turns the focus away from morality toward the broader issue of the capacity for choice—“When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man”—an ability that fascism would quell. Thus, rather than being about the moral quandary of “a clockwork orange,” the narrative trajectory of the film chronicles the ultimately successful, multifaceted, fascistic process of making an “orange” into “clockwork. ” In a review of A Clockwork Orange for the New Leader, Edgar Hyman wrote, “Alex always was a clockwork orange, a machine for mechanical violence far below the level of choice, and his dreary Socialist England is a giant clockwork orange. ” As astute as Hyman’s observation is, it makes the common mistake of confusing socialism with fascism. Furthermore, he misses the mark in asserting that Alex always is a clockwork orange. Rather, one might rightly say that almost everyone else in the story is already a clockwork orange: his parents, the agents of the law, the chaplain, even the mindless, consumerist girls whom Alex picks up for an afternoon tryst—all cogs in the giant clockwork society. But not Alex, who begins the story as a free agent, operating pretty much by natural law, answerable only to himself, taking what he wants from the world without permission. In one way or another, every institution with which Alex comes into contact-family, religion, the penal system, the medical establishment—attempts to quell Alex’s willful individuality, to rein him in, to integrate him into the clockwork—with little success. Mum and Dad are portrayed as lower-middle-class simpletons, who believe what they read in the papers (“It said the government had done great wrong to you”) over what their own son tells them (“I’ve suffered, and I’ve suffered, and I’ve suffered”), not realizing for a moment that the papers are servants to a higher power structure. For whatever reason, they have failed to raise their son to be a sheep like they, hence his run-ins with the law. Religion, in the person of the prison “Charlie” (chaplain), derides the Skinneresque conditioning of the Ludovico treatment, but the chaplain’s words of criticism could just as easily be leveled against the methods used by religion to keep people under control: “Self-interest, the fear of physical pain, drove him to that grotesque act of selfabasement. ” Indeed, the fear of hell, with its “flame hotter than any human fire,” often drives people to acts of self-abasement such as self-flagellation, prostrating themselves before God, kissing rings on the fingers of religious leaders, and so on. The aim of religion, at least in this film, is made “as clear as an unmuddied lake,” in the lyrics of the hymn sung in prison, which Alex helps to lead: “I was a wand’ring sheep; I did not love the fold. I did not love my shepherd’s voice; I would not be controll’d. ”With Alex’s sadomasochistic fantasies, induced by reading the Bible,we can imagine that he might make a fine crusader or inquisitor indeed, but never a sheep. In the world of the film, where family and religion fail, prison is the next recourse. If rebellious tendencies such as thievery and unsanctioned murder (in Alex’s case), open homosexuality (in the case of many of his fellow inmates), or political dissidence (in the case of Mr. Alexander at the end of the film) cannot be frightened out of the rebels, then they will be beaten out. And if not, the rebel “oranges” will at least be put away where they can do no harm to the status quo. Indeed, had Alex served his 14-year sentence, perhaps his willfulness would have been beaten down completely by that time. But the minister of the interior finds some political usefulness in Alex and begins the process of treatment. But even this severest attempt to condition Alex’s behavior, the Ludovico method, backfires politically, as public opinion shifts so easily. Finally, the minister sees what he must do: rather than trying to turn the orange into clockwork from the inside, he must seduce the orange into becoming a willing part of the larger clockwork, which he successfully does by offering Alex a comfortable job at a high salary in exchange for Alex’s political complicity. The end of the film does not, as some critics have claimed, celebrate the return of Alex the criminal; rather, it laments (albeit sardonically) the victory of institutional fascism over individual human nature. Like the apocryphal drivers of Model T Fords—who could have any color they liked, as long as they liked black—Alex is allowed to choose, but only if he chooses to cooperate with the state.In a rare explication of thematic intent, Kubrick elaborated on the film’s various levels of meaning, including its stance toward fascism, in a 1972 New York Times interview:The story functions, of course, on several levels: political, sociological, philosophical, and—what’s most important—on a kind of dream-like psychological-symbolic level. Alex is a character who by every logical and rational consideration should be completely unsympathetic, and possibly even abhorrent to the audience. And yet in the same way that Richard III gradually undermines your disapproval of his evil ways,Alex does the same thing and draws the audience into his own vision of life. This is the phenomenon of the story that produces the most enjoyable and surprising artistic illumination in the minds of an audience. . . . Alex symbolizes man in his natural state, the way he would be if society did not impose its ‘civilizing’ processes upon him. What we respond to subconsciously is Alex’s guiltless sense of freedom to kill and rape, and to be our savage, natural selves, and it is in this glimpse of the true nature of man that the power of the story derives. . . . Man isn’t a noble savage, he’s an ignoble savage. He is irrational, brutal, weak, silly, unable to be objective about anything where his own interests are involved . . . and any attempt to create social institutions based on a false view of the nature of man is probably doomed to failure. . . . Many aspects of liberal mythology are coming to grief now—but I don’t want to give any examples, or I’m going to sound like William Buckley. . . . But in this movie you have an example of social institutions gone a bit berserk. Obviously social institutions faced with the lawand-order problem might choose to become grotesquely oppressive. The movie poses two extremes: it shows Alex in his precivilized state, and society committing a worse evil in attempting to cure him. . . . The question must be considered whether Rousseau’s view of man as a fallen angel is not really the most pessimistic and hopeless of philosophies. It leaves man a monster who has gone steadily away from his original nobility. It is, I am convinced, more optimistic to accept [Robert] Ardrey’s view [from The Social Contract] that,“. . . we were born of risen apes, not fallen angels, and the apes were armed killers besides. . . . The miracle of man is not how far he has sunk but how magnificently he has risen. We are known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses. ” The thesis, so far from advocating that fascism be given a second chance,warns against the new psychedelic fascism-the eye-popping, multimedia, quadrasonic, drugoriented conditioning of human beings by other human beings—which many believe will usher in the forfeiture of human citizenship and the beginning of zombiedom.References■ “A Clockwork Orange,” Times (London), January 18, 1973;■ Alpert, Hollis, “Milk-Plus and Ultra-Violence,” Saturday Review, September 25, 1971;■ 40–41+; Baxter, John, Stanley Kubrick: A Biography (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1997);■ Buckley,William F. , Jr. ,“Movies: A Clockwork Orange,” Home Video, October 1981;■ Burgess, Anthony, A Clockwork Orange (New York:W. W. Norton), 1962, 1986;■ “Burgess, Originator Of ‘Clockwork,’ Says ‘Let Kubrick Defend Film,’” Variety, August 22, 1973: 2;■ Canby, Vincent, “A Clockwork Orange” (film review), New York Times, December 20, 1971; 44;■ “‘Clockwork’ Author Lambastes Censors,” Variety, September 2, 1987, 2;■ Dawtrey,Adam,“Court backs ‘Clock’ doc, ticking off Time Warner,” Variety, November 15, 1993, 27; DiSpoldo, Nick, “Arizona’s ‘Clockwork Orange’ Bill,” New York Times, June 20, 1974, 39; Evans,Walter,“Violence and Film:The Thesis of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange,” Velvet Light Trap, no. 13 (fall 1974); 11–12; “Facesaver: Dr. Stern Or Dr. Kubrick?” Variety, August 30, 1972, 4; French, Philip,“You Looking at Me?” Observer (London), February 27, 2000; Goldfarb, Michael,“‘Clockwork Orange,’With Music by U2,” Newsday, February 6, 1990; 3+; Gritten, David, “Rewinding ‘A Clockwork Orange,’” Los Angeles Times, Calendar section, February 18, 1990; 5+; Kael, Pauline, “The Current Cinema: Stanley Strangelove,” New Yorker, January 1, 1972; 50–53; Kubrick-Hobbs, Katharina, “FAQ,” http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/faq/kckh.html; LoBrutto, Vincent, Stanley Kubrick: A Biography (New York: Da Capo, 1999); Lund, Christian, “A Clockwork Orange,” http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/3111/aco.htm; McDowell, Edwin, “Publishing: ‘Clockwork Orange,’” New York Times, December 31, 1986, C-16; Nelson, Chris, “Switch On: Switch Off,” CD Liner Notes, A Clockwork Orange:Wendy Carlos’s Complete Original Score, Minneapolis (East Side Digital): 1998; Phillips, Gene D. , Stanley Kubrick:A Film Odyssey (New York: Popular Library, 1975); Phillips, Gene D. , ed. , Stanley Kubrick: Interviews (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2001); Pirani, Adam, “A Clockwork Orange 2004,” Starlog, April 1991; 26–28; “Ratings for Sale,” New York Times, September 3, 1972; Reed, Rex, “A Clockwork Orange” (film review), Daily News, December 26, 1971, 9; Rosen, Joe,“A Clockwork Orange” (film review),New York Morning Telegraph, December 28, 1971, 3; Sarris, Andrew, “Films in Focus,” Village Voice, December 30, 1971, 49; Schmidt,William E. , “British Test 19-Year Ban On ‘Clockwork Orange,’” New York Times, February 6, 1993, L-11; Schwartz, Emanuel K. , “A Psychiatric Analysis of Kubrick’s ‘Clockwork Orange,’” Hollywood Reporter, January 31, 1972, 8+; Sobchack, Vivian C. , “Décor as Theme: A Clockwork Orange,” Literature / Film Quarterly IX, no. 2 (1981); 92–102; “Think ‘Orange’ Took $2,500,000 in Gt. Britain,” Variety, January 16, 1974, 3; “Vitamin C (Cash) In ‘Orange’Yield,” Variety, January 12, 1972;Walker, Alexander, Sybil Taylor, and Ulrich Ruchti, Stanley Kubrick, Director (New York:W. W. Norton, 1999);“X For ‘Clockwork’:WB Must Accept ‘As Is’ Of Kubrick,” Variety, December 15, 1971.
The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. Gene D. Phillips Rodney Hill. 2002.
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