Study Guide

A Clockwork Orange Behind the Scenes

  • Director

    Stanley Kubrick

    Kubrick was born in 1928 and grew up in the Bronx, like Jennifer Lopez. He started directing films in the 1950s, and soon made the popular, but sexually explicit and controversial, films Spartacus and Lolita.

    Kubrick developed a visually stunning (and totally original) style that featured creative camerawork and often told stories about cold or emotionally detached characters. This made him the perfect director for 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and (so say conspiracy theorists) faking the moon landing in 1969.

    Oh, and Kubrick also adapted the screenplay, so click on over to the "Screenwriter" section for more.

  • Screenwriter

    Stanley Kubrick

    Kubrick's striking style was a fantastic fit for adapting and directing the film version of Anthony Burgess's insane-o book A Clockwork Orange. However, Kubrick would have failed a reading quiz if he read this book in high school…because he didn't finish it before writing his screenplay.

    Okay, we're poking fun at our pal Stanley, but the fact is that Kubrick read the American version of Anthony Burgess's novel, which didn't include the book's final chapter. His screenplay sticks close to the book and also omits the British version of the book's happy ending.

    A Clockwork Orange was so shocking, it was censored and received an X-rating in the U.S. and eventually was banned in the U.K. at Kubrick's request. Kubrick wasn't deterred from making controversial, sexually explicit films, though. He would later make Eyes Wide Shut before his death in 1999, which was censored in the United States.

  • Production Studio

    Polaris Productions and Hawk Films; Distributed By Warner Bros.

    Birds of a Feather

    Stanley Kubrick had a thing for birds. He created Hawk Films to produce Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, and A Clockwork Orange, among others. He also created Peregrine Films and Harrier Films for later movies he produced. Kubrick formed Hawk Films after allegedly falling out with his previous production partner, Jimmy Harris. Kubrick, a director known for being quite the auteur, was actually more interested in making commercially successful films, which pulled the partnership apart (source).

    What's Up, Doc?

    When you think Warner Bros., you think Bugs Bunny, Casablanca, and a woman being raped while her rapist sings "Singin' in the Rain." Okay—you don't think of that last one. This film is different from your usual Warner Bros. production…and it's different from every other production.

    Usually we hear about production companies meddling in a director's vision, but here, it was the other way around. After some shocking copycat crimes in the U.K., Kubrick requested that Warner Bros. pull the film in that country. He had received death threats from people offended by the film. The studio complied, and the U.K. didn't officially see A Clockwork Orange again until 1999, when Kubrick died. (You can't make death threats against a dead person.)

  • Production Design

    Kubrick filmed A Clockwork Orange in and around London, but you won't find the Korova Milk Bar and its obscene tables anywhere in the streets of that fair city. That was one of the only sets built for the film. The rest of the movie utilized real-world locations, from the Marina where Alex dumps Dim in the water to the record store (which is now a McDonald's).

    Although you can visit many of the film's locations—and even order a Big Mac in one—it's not quite the same as what's in the movie. The film shows us Alex's London, and the devious droog is in almost every shot of the movie. We see London as a futuristic thug might. In every corner lurks an opportunity for ultra-violence and trouble.

  • Music (Score)

    Wendy Carlos

    Wendy Carlos is credited as Walter Carlos in A Clockwork Orange because she scored the film before undergoing sex-reassignment surgery in 1972. Carlos is known for using synthesizers (instrument of choice in the 1980s) to play classical music, making her the perfect composer for Orange, a film about a punk obsessed with Beethoven. Her synth tracks were ahead of her time, which enhanced the film's near-futuristic feel.

    Two pieces of music are critical to the plot. Alex is sensitized to hate Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Music can be powerful like that, and Carlos often uses music to make the viewer feel uncomfortable. Plus, the film makes use of generally happy, popular songs, like "Singin' in the Rain" during scenes of violence and rape. You'll never look at that cheery musical the same way after watching A Clockwork Orange.

    Carlos worked with Kubrick again in 1980, and also scored films for a company more creepy and disturbed than even Kubrick could ever imagine: Disney.

  • Fandoms

    Fans of A Clockwork Orange enjoy dressing up in Alex's iconic uniform and raping people while singing "Singin' in the Rain." Yikes. That isn't the kind of fandom you want associated with your movie.

    But numerous copycat crimes swept the U.K. after the release of A Clockwork Orange. There was the aforementioned rape, and a gang of young men beat a homeless person to death, like in one of the film's early scenes.

    Thankfully, the Orange-inspired ultra-violence has diminished over the years. Fans can still dress up as droog in both original and sexy flavors…as long as they promise to behave themselves.