A Clockwork Orange Movie Poster Image

A Clockwork Orange



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

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.


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.


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.


"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."

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.

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.


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

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

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

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • A dark, philosophical sci-fi drama for older teens.
  • Bloody, gruesome black comedy that's not for kids.
  • Lurid, twisted, and violent. Not for kids.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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 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, 14 years old Written byplo334 January 18, 2012


well the movie is violent and have drugs and robs etc.. but this masterpiece of movies. have one very positive message of being diffrent on you own way and dont do bad things(even this message is more for teens who is getting out of adolecensse).it says too that if you do something wrong you deserve punishement and make people change you for"better"will not help you. it syas to you respect people cause one day when you were weak they will have them revenge. the movie even being violent and disturbing is something that parents have to watch with their sons(they are surely watching things worse than this) so talk open about alex and the things that he does. and why he gets on that situation. talk to them too for when they have their childs to they give them education values unlike alex parents. is one grat movie for when you see that something is not going well with your children me and my father watched this and we both refelxed and get on the conclusion of this. grat movie watch it!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byyourfunny August 15, 2011

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


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide