A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime movie adapted, produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel of the same name. The movie shows disturbing, violent images to comment on psychiatry, juvenile delinquency, youth gangs, and other social, political, and economic subjects in a dystopian near-future Britain. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and fascinating facts bout A Clockwork Orange.
1. The soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange features mostly classical music selections and Moog synthesizer compositions by Wendy Carlos.
2. The artwork for the now iconic poster of A Clockwork Orange was created by Philip Castle with the layout by designer Bill Gold.
3. 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.
4. The snake, Basil, was introduced into the movie by Stanley Kubrick when he found out Malcolm McDowell had a fear of reptiles. The stated purpose was to make McDowell’s character seem more intimidating, but secondarily it functioned as a practical joke by Kubrick.
5. Stanley Kubrick’s first cut, before hiring several assistant editors, ran almost four hours long.
6. According to Malcolm McDowell, on the commentary track from the 2007 DVD release, the sped-up sex scene was originally filmed as an unbroken take lasting 28 minutes.
7. The doctor standing over Alex as he’s being forced to watch violent movies was a real doctor, ensuring that Malcolm McDowell’s eyes didn’t dry up.
8. Stanley Kubrick had his assistant destroy all unused footage.
9. Although he’s playing a 15 year old, and 17 in the latter half, Malcolm McDowell was actually 27 at the time of filming.
10. During the filming of the Ludovico scene, Malcolm McDowell scratched one of his corneas and was temporarily blinded. He suffered cracked ribs during filming of the humiliation stage show as well.
11. Malcolm McDowell chose to play Alex while speaking in his normal Northern English accent instead of a Cockney accent. McDowell felt that his softer accent would strike an interesting contrast with Alex’s menacing personality and also help him stand out among his friends.
12. The final scene of A Clockwork Orange was done after 74 takes.
13. Before the rape scene was filmed, Adrienne Corri walked up to Malcolm McDowell and said, “Well, Malcolm, today you’re going to find out I’m a real redhead.”
14. The two copycat crimes that prompted Stanley Kubrick to have the movie withdrawn in the United Kingdom were the rape of a Dutch girl in Lancashire in 1973 at the hands of men singing “Singin’ in the Rain” and the violence of a 16 year old boy who had beaten a younger child while wearing Alex’s uniform of white overalls, a black bowler hat and combat boots.
15. A Clockwork Orange is Stanley Kubrick’s first solo screenplay.
16. In the scene after Alex talks with the priest about Ludovico therapy, we see the prisoners marching in a circle around the exercise yard, recreating an 1890 painting by Vincent van Gogh called “Prisoners Exercising.”
17. 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.” However, no independent references are known,and it’s thought that Burgess invented the phrase himself.
18. The doorbell at the Alexander residence, “Home,” plays the first four notes of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony.”
19. A Clockwork Orange 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 creation against the huge apparatus needed for Stanley Kubrick’s previous movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
20. Unusually for a movie of this period, all the credits are at the end.
21. A Clockwork Orange is one of the first movies to use radio mics to record the sound. No posy syncing was required.
22. Stanley Kubrick was afraid that theater owners would edit the movie. So every week, the reels would be exchanged for a clean, inspected copy.
23. Stanley Kubrick handled the advertising campaign, including posters, commercials and the trailer.
24. Of the 11 adaptions that Stanley Kubrick worked on in his career, A Clockwork Orange is the most faithful to its source material.
25. In the music shop scene, there is a list of Top Ten music bands up on the wall. One of the bands listed is Heaven 17, which one of the girls mentions to Alex. This name was used by a real band in the 1980s.
26. Although the car used by Alex and the droogs was called a “Durango 95” in the movie, it’s really the “Adams Probe 16,” one of three ever made.
27. Malcolm McDowell is actually urinating in the toilet scene early in the movie, when he goes home and prepares for bed. He drank a lot of coffee before filming the shot.
28. When Alex is being drowned, there is a barely perceptible micro-cut in which Malcolm McDowell was able to use the oxygen mask that was hidden in the water. The bath was muddied by using Bovril, which is a beef extract.
29. Malcolm McDowell found the strange language easy to deal with as he was used to playing William Shakespeare’s plays with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
30. Malcolm McDowell suggested that it wasn’t until the 21st century that audiences saw the movie properly as a black comedy, and that earlier audiences he saw the movie with were always too unsettled by the opening 20 minutes of violence and rape scenes to appreciate the humor in the rest of the movie.