A Clockwork Orange (film) - Reception

Reception

Despite the film's controversial nature, A Clockwork Orange was a hit with American audiences, grossing more than $26 million on a conservative budget of $2.2 million, and was critically well received and nominated for several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture (losing to The French Connection). It also boosted sales of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. More recently, A Clockwork Orange earned a 91% "Certified Fresh" rating in the Rotten Tomatoes movie review website.

Despite general praise from critics, the film had notable detractors. Film critic Stanley Kauffmann commented, "Inexplicably, the script leaves out Burgess' reference to the title". Roger Ebert gave A Clockwork Orange two stars out of four, calling it an "ideological mess." In the New Yorker review titled "Stanley Strangelove", Pauline Kael called it pornographic because of how it dehumanised Alex's victims while highlighting the sufferings of the protagonist. Kael derided Kubrick as a "bad pornographer", noting the Billyboy's gang extended stripping of the very buxom woman they intended to rape, claiming it was offered for titillation.

John Simon noted that the novel's most ambitious effects were based on language and the alienating effect of the narrator's Nadsat slang, making it a poor choice for a film. Concurring with some of Kael's criticisms about the depiction of Alex's victims, Simon noted that the writer character (young and likeable in the novel) was played by Patrick Magee, "a very quirky and middle-aged actor who specialises in being repellent". Simon comments further that "Kubrick over-directs the basically excessive Magee until his eyes erupt like missiles from their silos and his face turns every shade of a Technicolor sunset."

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