A Clockwork Orange

Movie review by
Afsheen Nomai, Common Sense Media
A Clockwork Orange Movie Poster Image
A violent meditation on violence; graphic and disturbing.
  • R
  • 1971
  • 137 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 39 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 75 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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
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.

What 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.

User Reviews

Adult Written byABullworthy September 2, 2014

Stanley did it again. Bring out the ultra violence

Great movie, but ultra violent. Not very bloody but lots of people been beaten with poles. 2 attempted rape scenes with full frontal nudity of women. A sped up... Continue reading
Adult Written byMostlysane April 6, 2013

Quite surprised!

Might contain spoilers: I believe this movie has a definite message. However, I have never seen such a sexual movie. On of the first scenes is a naked young wom... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byEvangray September 16, 2009
This is an amazing and yet terrifying film. The book is one of my faves, and its a fantastic movie... This shows that film can be an extremely powerful medium,... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byEntropy April 9, 2010

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... Continue reading

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?

 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.

 

Talk to your kids 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

Themes & Topics

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