A Clockwork Orange

  • Review Date: October 30, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1971
  • Running Time: 137 minutes

Common Sense Media says

A violent meditation on violence; graphic and disturbing.
  • Review Date: October 30, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1971
  • Running Time: 137 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
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5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

As a dark dystopian satire that explores whether or not sociopathic criminals can be reformed by behavior modification and reconditioning, there is not much in the way of positive messages.

Positive role models

Although certainly an engaging and charming anti-hero of a narrator, Alex is a sociopath in every sense of the word, and those around him aren't really that much better.

Violence

Extreme violence throughout the movie. Within the first 15 minutes, a drunken homeless man is beaten up on the street by four young men, and these four young men watch a group of other young men begin to rape a woman before the two gangs engage in a fight with knives, chairs, and fists, and a woman is raped by these same men while her husband is forced to watch. A young man is forced to watch violent images on a movie screen -- first, a man being beaten and bloodied by a group of young men, and next, a woman raped by a group of young men.

Sex

Full-frontal female nudity, sexual innuendo, male nudity, explicit sex scenes. Characters are frequently surrounded by sexual images -- paintings of naked women, sculptures of penises, naked women mannequins who produce milk for consumption out of their nipples. A male social worker engages in inappropriate touching with a young man under his jurisdiction; he eventually reaches down and grabs the young man's penis as he sits next to him in his underwear.

Language

"F--king hell," "bastard," "s--t." Characters use their own slang, which is generally made up of Russian words, and they refer to sex as "In-out."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink a beverage in a bar called "Moloko," which is a mix of milk and an unknown drug that the narrator claims sharpens one's senses and makes him more desirous of committing acts of extreme violence. Early in the film, a homeless man is shown drunk and singing, surrounded by nearly empty booze bottles.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is an extremely violent film. Within the first 13 minutes there is a violent beating of a homeless man, an attempted rape, a gang fight, another beating, and a rape. Sex and violence are paired. Hope for a "cure" for violence is scuttled. Profanity includes "f--k." There is full-frontal female nudity, sexual innuendo, male nudity, and explicit sex scenes. Characters are frequently surrounded by sexual images: paintings of naked women, sculptures of penises, naked women mannequins who produce milk for consumption out of their nipples. A male social worker engages in inappropriate touching with a young man under his jurisdiction; he eventually reaches down and grabs the young man's penis as he sits next to him in his underwear. For mature viewers, the messages about violence and cultural decay are present, but these may be lost on younger viewers amid the sensationalism.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Based on the Anthony Burgess novel, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE tells the tale of Alex (Malcolm McDowell), a young man whose cravings for sex and violence rule almost his every motivation. He and his roving gang of "droogies" fight and rape their way around town, beating up hapless strangers or rival gangs. But Alex's droogies aren't that happy with his leadership. They soon ambush Alex and leave him for the police to find after he murders a woman in her home. After two years in prison, Alex is chosen to participate in an experiment to brainwash the violent tendencies out of criminals: He becomes deathly sick and incapacitated anytime he encounters or thinks about violence. The unintended side effect is that he also feels this way when he hears his favorite composer, Ludwig van Beethoven. The latter is exploited to disastrous ends in a case of political and personal revenge.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

 A Clockwork Orange has earned the title of "cult classic," and rightfully so. This is the darkest of satires, exploring the deepest of themes: behavioral conditioning, crime and punishment, and the quote attributed to the anarchist Emma Goldman: "A society gets all the criminals it deserves." The end result also is a lampooning of youth culture as well as of those who espouse "law and order" at the expense of free will.

As the anti-hero Alec, Malcolm McDowell presents so much style and élan that the iconic stature of the character has only grown in the decades since the movie was released. It isn't for the squeamish, but, unlike so many films in which sex and violence are omnipresent, there are reasons behind the brutality and the gratuitousness. It is an unforgettable movie and ranks as among Stanley Kubrick's finest.

 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the nature of violence. Are some people naturally destined to be violent, or does it come from experience? Does our current penal system work? Is it ethical to try to brainwash criminals, as they did to Alex? Or are there other means to use psychology that might help?

  • The novel A Clockwork Orange ends differently from the movie. Why do you think the filmmakers chose a somewhat different ending?

  • What do you see as the challenges in adapting a movie from a well-known novel?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 9, 1971
DVD release date:May 6, 1991
Cast:Adrienne Corri, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee
Director:Stanley Kubrick
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Book characters
Run time:137 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:rape, violence, sex, and nudity.

This review of A Clockwork Orange was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byEntropy April 9, 2010
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Fantastic, Original, Controversial, NOT FOR KIDS.

This is probably the most graphical, and most twisted film I have seen. At the same time. It is so incredibly well done, it simply cannot be ignored. This film weaves an interesting, terrifying, and shockingly graphic tale. There are almost no good role models, nearly all main characters engage in horrible, immoral, violent, and sexual behavior. This movie is filled with merciless brutality, often inflicted upon the innocent. The violence includes, but is not limited to: Multiple accounts of very graphic on-screen rape, many extremely violent beatings and murders, attempted suicide, torture, police brutality, and other such horrible acts. There is also EXTREMELY Graphic On-Screen Sexual Content. Including, full female nudity, and male nudity, and several scenes in which the sex is almost entirely visible. Including the afore mentioned Rape. Just to be able to grasp some idea of what I am talking about, I might mention that this film was originally rated X. Surprisingly NO foul language in this film whatsoever. In fact, in replacement of the usual insulting words, very colorful and seemingly sophisticated phrases are used. Much ado about drugs, main characters drink drugged milk to sharpen their instincts and focus. The "Droogs" use this ability to violently harm innocent citizens. In this society, it is shown how it is possible to get a kick, or a high, out of violence. They use it like a drug. And refer to it as Ultra Violence. Anyway, I would not recommend this film for anyone under 18+. As it conveys such a disturbingly violent story, younger viewers might be too shocked by the graphical content to understand the true message, and the more subtle undertones.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byyourfunny August 15, 2011
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Oh My

Well, this movie is definetly not as bad as people say it is. It's a classic, a masterpiece, and actually has some lessons that can be learned. The violence is pretty tame.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written byREDSOX101 July 21, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Great Piece of Art SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

I would say that the movie is really a gem of an art piece. The use of excellent imagery coupled with pretty out-of-the-place background score tells us about the uniqueness of this movie. Stanley Kubrick has really applied a lot of thought into this. The director wants the audience to feel something as bad not because he is showing it as bad but because it really is bad. The background music accompanying the ultra violent scenes is comical, and not dramatic or anything else that is commonly associated with such scenes. This gives the viewer an opportunity to feel the bitterness not because the music hints so but because he himself feels so. Viewer's emotions should arise irrespective of what the director is trying to show, and this is one of the greatest successes of the movie. Another glorifying feature is the central idea of the movie. If a human is striped of the choice to choose from good and evil, he no longer remains a human, he becomes a clockwork. When Alex is brain-washed and "programmed" to choose only good, he wasn't accepted by the society and this shows the irony in the objectives of the British Government. The word Orange from the title presumably comes from the word "Ourange" that loosely means man. And hence the title is so appropriate to the movie. The artificiality in dialogues and sets give the movie a unique feature and enhance the grip on it. This also means that the viewer has to get more involved. This is definitely one of the best technically shot movies, another masterpiece of Kubrick like the Space Oddessey. For the uninitiated, set in near future Britain, the movie shows Malcom MacDowell as the head of a group of youngsters involved in sexual violence. Turn of the events leave the protagonist in the hands of the police. Worried by the growing number of prisoners the British Government devises a method of "programming" them so that they always choose the good. Alex is chosen as one of those on which the new system is to be tested. The rest unfolds as a saga of the very human characteristic. Lastly, I would like to say that you may be compelled to leave the movie in between, but if you are watching it for art and cinematic experience, I recommend you to sit through.
What other families should know
Too much sex

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