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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Patrick Magee
Adrienne Corri
Warren Clarke
Malcolm McDowell.
Directors
Stanley Kubrick.
Screenwriters
Stanley Kubrick.
Running Time
137 minutes

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A Clockwork Orange
Controversial and self-suppressed Kubrick sci-fi satire


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Plot
In a futuristic Britain, a gang of thugs (droogs) controlled by one young man, Alex, run rampant - perpetrating rape, muggings, beatings galore. Eventually Alex is captured, subjected to experimental treatment to cure him of his anti-social tendencies, and released back into polite society...


Review
Now it can be seen again, perhaps the nonsense talk that has surrounded Kubrick's adaptation of Anthony Burgess' dystopian novel will finally evaporate. From the controversy, you'd think the film was like, say, Romper Stomper (1992): a glamorisation of the violent lifestyle of its teenage protagonist, with a hypocritical gloss of condemnation to mask delight in rape and ultra-violence. Actually, it is resoundingly both fable-like and abstract.

Alex (McDowell), juvenile delinquent of the future, gets a brief 20 minutes anarchic rampage before his apprehension by brutal authorities, whereupon he changes from defiant thug into cringing boot-licker, volunteering for a behaviourist experiment that removes his capacity to do evil. The "cured" Alex finds he has made sadistic monsters of his former victims, and is paid back in full. Alexander (Magee), the last decent man in a corrupt world, is transformed by Alex's assault on his home into a freak, toted about in a wheelchair by Dave Prowse (speaking with his own Bristol voice, for a change). Even more appalling is the realisation that Alex's old "droogs" have gone straight by joining the police, channelling brutishness into the service of the state.

It's all stylised, from Burgess' invented pidgin Russian to 2001-style slow tracks, through sculpturally-perfect sets (like many Kubrick movies, the story could be told through decor alone) and exaggerated, grotesque performances (on a par with those of Dr. Strangelove). Made in 1971, based on a novel from 1962, A Clockwork Orange resonates across the years. Its future is quaint now, with Alexander pecking out "subversive literature" on a giant IBM typewriter, "lovely, lovely Ludwig Van" on vinyl, and Alex stranded alone in a vast and empty National Health hospital ward. However, the world of "Municipal Flat Block 18A, Linear North" is very much with us: a housing estate where classical murals are obscenely vandalised, passersby are rare and yobs loll about with nothing better to do than hurt people.


Verdict
A much-maligned and misunderstood classic, this is one of Kubrick's finest movies.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for A Clockwork Orange
Empire Star Rating

Scary? Disturbing? Funny? What About all three and more?

What kind of movie is this? A drama about life? A film about the life of crime? A Sci-Fi? A film about or against violence? Well, maybe everything I just said and more! The story is about Alex "DeLarge" (Malcolm McDowell), a young teenager, music lover of Beethoven, who lives a life of what he calls "ultra-violence". He and his small group of criminals terrorize London night with all imaginable kinds of crimes, from rape to assaulting houses and beating up on thugs. After al... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ralph25 at 15:47, 12 April 2013 | Report This Post


A controversial and unforgettibale masterpiece

For me "A Clockwork Orange" remains even after 40 years one of the greatest movies ever made. The story of Alex(Malcolm Macdowell in the role of a lifetime) and his ultra violent ways remains as powerful and important today as it did then. And to think no-one ever thought Stanley Kubrick could adapt Anthony Burgess novel into a film...oh how wrong they were. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stephen35 at 10:36, 04 July 2011 | Report This Post


Absolute heaven for filmgoers like myself

This is the second most amazing film i've ever seen (2001 being the rockstar). THIS was the film that illustrated to me what a genius Kubrick was. I've always wanted to become a director, but when i saw this film it completely shattered my confidence. In a good way. I was like "Shit, I'll NEVER make a film like that". And nobody will, probably. You don't get films like that anymore. Because Kubrick is no longer with us. RIP Stanley. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lewistarantino at 18:26, 04 April 2011 | Report This Post


A clockwork orange

A darkly humorous film based on the darkly humorous book. An astonishing adaptation by Kubrick ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Blue Ryan at 14:49, 30 August 2009 | Report This Post


I had a lot of hopes for this film and for the first hour or so it really lived up to its hype but I felt it dragged out for far too long. Great opening 20 minutes or so which, though horrifying are just incredible to watch. It is a good film but I felt it was too drawn out and lacking for the last 40 minutes or so. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PureAinmhi at 15:57, 14 June 2009 | Report This Post


Kubrick is Great

Two biggest morons in life : 1. A guy who executes some act in real life JUST BECAUSE it was shown in a movie 2. A guy who think story-lines in movie should follow morals. Stating some FACTS for those who talk of morals: 1. Movies do not glorify anything(read 'evil'). Films just reflect the society's behaviour and NEVER, NEVER is it vice versa. 2. (Justifiable & Meaningful) Violence is a necessary part of life for maintaining an equilibrium in the universe. Eg: If Rabbits breed too much wi... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Amol at 13:21, 26 September 2008 | Report This Post


I don't think you guys have enough morals

the film glorifies everything that is wrong with the world, don't we want to move on? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:57, 21 July 2008 | Report This Post


A real horrorshow.

No one can get out of the line of fire of this movie. One of me favourites. Uncompromising and groundbreaking. Sexy, stylish and captivating. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 00:29, 09 May 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Mind-blowing

I liked A Clockwork Orange because it is a really diffrent film. Although its not my favourite Kubrick film its still good anyway. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Chris66 at 09:37, 26 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Mind-blowing

The best Kubrick film I've seen. Malcolm McDowell is extraordinary. Still can't believe that's Fred from Coronation Street at the end of the film though. ... More

Posted by paul_ie86 at 01:20, 26 April 2008 | Report This Post


Mind-blowing

The best Kubrick film I've seen. Malcolm McDowell is extraordinary. Still can't believe that's Fred from Coronation Street at the end of the film though. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paul_ie86 at 01:18, 26 April 2008 | Report This Post


amaaaazinggg!!!

the reason I gave it such a low star rating is because I couldn't give it ten stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by cdxbl empire at 20:31, 14 March 2008 | Report This Post


AWESOME!

Weird, brutal, magnificent, thrilling, metamorphorical, exciting and frightening. Kubrick's masterpiece. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 16:25, 23 February 2008 | Report This Post


iv seen this loads of times. Its very Kubrick which in this case is not a good thing. Including the Wicker Man its the most strangly dated film i can think of. The first section is the only bit that is watchable or laughable? not good ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 12:27, 25 October 2007 | Report This Post


Unsatisfying, uninspired and above all unfinished

For starters: it pisses me off the movie got so much more recognition than the book. OK fine, it must of been real controversial back then, but that's only because the audience had never seen violence and rape of such intense proportions. The script, outshining all other factors of the movie, is a fine adaptation of Burgess' ingenious and original novel. But Kubrick had to go and mess it up by deserting the last and most powerful chapter of the book just because he felt like finishing on a s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mogolimovieman at 16:27, 01 October 2007 | Report This Post


6-Stars!

Everything that needs to be said about this film has been said already. My favourite scene is strangely enough the drunk old man's folky singing at the very beginning but this film has masses of brilliant scenes that form a comprehensible whole. You could almost accuse McDowell of over-acting but he's so engaging that if it is then it is justified. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dhollseed at 01:16, 18 August 2007 | Report This Post


Brutal, uncompromising, shocking. More relevant than ever. Another masterpiece by Kubrick. Malcolm McDowell maybe the scariest teenager ever depicted on film and Singing in the Rain was never the same. Brilliant and terrifying. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 21:42, 18 April 2007 | Report This Post


Brutal, uncompromising, shocking. More relevant than ever. Another masterpiece by Kubrick. Malcolm McDowell maybe the scariest teenage who ever lived and Singing in the Rain was never the same. Brilliant and terrifying. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 21:40, 18 April 2007 | Report This Post


Disturbingly Good

After watching 'A Clockwork Orange' I was somewhat disturbed, but not as shocked as I suppose people are expected to be. I found myself contemplating my own conscience! The scenes of violence and cruelty didn't make me feel much sympathy for the victims, if it had been any other film then I would have, but let me tell you why. The music. The classic Beethoven and other jolly tunes accompanied the malevolent deeds, making the viewer almost think that the brutality was alright. The main protagonis... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Steviebow at 00:36, 18 February 2007 | Report This Post


... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edu at 17:23, 04 December 2006 | Report This Post


A Clockwork Orange

I watched the film ten minutes ago. i don't know what to do anymore. I feel very very different to anything i've ever felt about anything. This film is so powerful that I cannot really feel my legs, Anybody who wants to push the boundaries of psychology should be made to watch this film. I look forward to adult life knowing the ripples of this film will still be there. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ainsinnes at 19:50, 02 December 2006 | Report This Post


very wierd but very good ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by casino at 14:34, 19 July 2006 | Report This Post


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