A Clockwork Orange’s Malcolm McDowell Thinks Many Misunderstood The Classic Film – SlashFilm


McDowell said he was a little shocked to learn that so many audiences only responded to the violence in “A Clockwork Orange” when it was first released. Yes, it has many scenes of assault, but he felt the violence was so unbearably over-the-top that it would be hard for audiences to take it seriously. Surprisingly, they did. McDowell said: 

“Well, of course, I was thrilled when it came out. People have recognized it. I was a bit perturbed that they seemed to think it was a very violent film. And I honestly thought they missed the point there, because it’s really satirical, that part. I mean, yes, it’s violent, more violence, it’s psychological violence, which is, of course, harder to take. But it’s certainly not violent like a Sam Peckinpah movie. I mean, that, that’s real violence all in slow motion and exploding bodies and all the rest of it. But even that, to me, was like a ballet.” 

McDowell’s viewpoint goes to a longstanding contemporary argument about depiction vs. advocacy. If a filmmaker chooses to put an act of violence in their film, some feel that it counts as an implicit approval. Others more wisely point out that a film’s attitude and context provide the true viewpoint on its violence. McDowell sees the violence in “A Clockwork Orange” as wholly artificial and presented in a so wild a context that one could watch it without being disturbed. Indeed, on a certain level, “A Clockwork Orange” might be seen as a particularly aggressive slapstick comedy. Just one that happens to be about moral depravity. 

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