Photo by Warner Bros.
In December 19 1971, was released one of the most classic movies of all time, ‘A Clockwork Orange’. The movie is about Alex DeLarge, an “ultraviolent” youth in futuristic Britain. As with all luck, his eventually runs out and he’s arrested and convicted of murder and rape. While in prison, Alex learns of an experimental program in which convicts are programmed to detest violence. If he goes through the program, his sentence will be reduced and he will be back on the streets sooner than expected. But Alex’s ordeals are far from over once he hits the mean streets of Britain that he had a hand in creating.
Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates
Director: Stanley Kubrick
To celebrate the 45th anniversary, here are some of the curiosities about this movie.
- Malcolm McDowell’s eyes were anesthetized for the torture scenes so that he would film for periods of time without too much discomfort. Nevertheless his corneas got repeatedly scratched by the metal lid locks.
- The snake, Basil, was introduced into the film by Stanley Kubrick when he found out Malcolm McDowell had a fear of reptiles. This was to make McDowell’s character seem more intimidating, and as a practical joke by Kubrick.
- The doctor standing over Alex as he is being forced to watch violent films was a real doctor, ensuring that Malcolm McDowell’s eyes didn’t dry up.
- Alex performing “Singing in the Rain” as he attacks the writer and his wife was not scripted. Stanley Kubrick spent four days experimenting with this scene, finding it too conventional. Eventually he approached Malcolm McDowell and asked him if he could dance. They tried the scene again, this time with McDowell dancing and singing the only song he could remember. Kubrick was so amused that he swiftly bought the rights to “Singing in the Rain” for $10,000.
- Stanley Kubrick had his assistant destroy all unused footage.
- Although he is playing a 15-year-old (17 in the latter half), Malcolm McDowell was actually 27 at the time of filming.
- According to author Anthony Burgess, the title of the book (and the movie) came from East London slang, deriving from the phrase, “as queer as a clockwork orange.” No independent references are known, however, and it is thought that Burgess invented the phrase himself.
- Stanley Kubrick’s first solo screenplay.
- One of only two movies rated X on its original release (the other beingMidnight Cowboy (1969) to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
- This film was shot almost entirely on real locations as opposed to sets and was lit almost entirely with a Lowell Kit, a staple for film students, perhaps as a reaction against the huge apparatus needed for Stanley Kubrick’s previous film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
- Unusually for a film of this period, all the credits are at the end.
- Malcolm McDowell is actually urinating in the toilet scene early in the film, when he goes home and prepares for bed. He drank a lot of coffee before filming the shot.
- Stanley Kubrick was afraid theatre owners would edit the movie. So every week, the reels would be exchanged for a clean, inspected copy.