Malcolm McDowell Can’t Stomach Watching ‘Clockwork Orange’

by | Sep 20, 2021

Malcolm McDowell has enjoyed a fine career in American film and TV since moving to the States in the 1980s, but it was his role as Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s classic movie A Clockwork Orange that made his name in Hollywood. The film, based on the book by Anthony Burgess, is a hard hitting look at societies  ‘real’ definition of virtue and evil, and nature of humanity. Whilst it might sound a little haughty taughty, there is no pretentiousness surrounding the story of a young hoodlum who rapes and brutalizes innocent people. But it seems that the star of the film can’t bare to watch the film, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. 

The film and book both follow Alex, the leader of a brutal gang who get off on sex and violence. When Alex is arrested and sent to prison, he is used a in a controversial experiment to try to cure him through subjective torture. The story ultimately asks the audience if it’s possible to psychically change something in order to control it, or should we all be allowed to choose our own paths, even if it’s an immoral one. Does the experiment make Alex a better person, or will he always be a violent and dangerous man? Or to put it more elegantly, does making an orange clockwork make it any less of an orange? Ultimately, it’s a story of morality and free-will. 

The film was met with much praise when it hit cinemas on the 13th January 1972, but it did not go without it’s controversy.  The film was withdrawn from British release in 1973 by Warner Brothers at the request of Kubrick, in response to allegations that the film was responsible for copycat violence. 

With a brand new 4K print made avaible on September 21st, McDowell chatted with Yahoo about the film, where he revealed that he still finds it difficult to re-watch, even if the film is 50 years old now. 

“To be honest, I really couldn’t really stomach watching it again… I mean, give me a break here. It’s still the same movie. It may look a little sharper, the color might be a little brighter, but it’s still the same movie. But listen, I’m thrilled to be a part of it. I mean, my god, it’s cinema history. Not many actors in their careers can have such an experience.”

The 78-year-old British actor estimates he’s seen A Clockwork Orange about 10 times since the films first release. 

“A lot of times it’s been at some festival and I’m stuck watching it. The last time I was stuck watching it was a the Cannes Film Festival, sitting next to one of the head honchos of Warner Bros. because we were celebrating the 40th anniversary. Thank god we don’t have to go to Cannes because I’d be stuck up there watching it again.”

When asked about Kubrick pulling the film from circulation, McDowell had this to say. 

“I just thought it really made copy… It was just something for the tabloids to have fun with. Whether of not a film really makes any difference to what’s really going on, socially… Psychos are psychos. You don’t know what’s going to set them off. It could be a black cat crossing a road… Did I feel any responsibility? Absolutely not. We made a movie that was reflective of the times we lived in. Anything else would’ve been a form of censorship.”

You can pick up a copy of A Clockwork Orange in 4k at Amazon. Amazon UK or Amazon US.


Don’t forget to let us know if you’ll be picking up a copy.  Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @Lallen_UK

Stay in, Stay Safe, Love Horror!

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