A Clockwork Orange (Film)

Differences between the film and the novel

Kubrick's film is relatively faithful to the Burgess novel, omitting only the final, positive chapter, wherein Alex matures and outgrows sociopathy. Whereas the film ends with Alex offered an open-ended government job — implying he remains a sociopath at heart — the novel ends with Alex's positive change in character. This plot discrepancy occurred because Kubrick based his screenplay upon the novel's American edition, its final chapter deleted on insistence of the American publisher.[55] He claimed not to have read the complete, original version of the novel until he had almost finished writing the screenplay, and that he never considered using it. The introduction to the 1996 edition of A Clockwork Orange, says that Kubrick found the end of the original edition too blandly optimistic and unrealistic.

  • In the novel, Alex's last name was never revealed, while in the film, his surname is 'DeLarge', due to Alex's calling himself "Alexander the Large" in the novel.
  • At the beginning of the novel, Alex is a 15-year-old juvenile delinquent. In the film, to minimize controversy, Alex is portrayed as somewhat older, around 17 or 18.
  • Critic Randy Rasmussen has argued that the government in the film is in considerable shambles and in a state of desperation while the government in the novel is quite strong and self-confident. The former reflects Kubrick's preoccupation with the theme of acts of self-interest masked as simply following procedure.[56] One example of this would be differences in the portrayal of P.R. Deltoid, Alex's "post-corrective advisor". In the novel, P.R. Deltoid appears to have some moral authority (although not enough to prevent Alex from lying to him or engaging in crime, despite his protests). In the film, Deltoid is slightly sadistic and seems to have a sexual interest in Alex, interviewing him in his parents' bedroom and smacking him in the crotch.
  • In the film, Alex has a pet snake. There is no mention of this in the novel.[57]
  • In the novel, F. Alexander recognises Alex through a number of careless references to the previous attack (e.g., his wife then claiming they did not have a telephone). In the film, Alex is recognised when singing the song 'Singing in the Rain' in the bath, which he had hauntingly done while attacking F. Alexander's wife. The song does not appear at all in the book, as it was an improvisation by actor Malcolm McDowell when Kubrick complained that the rape scene was too "stiff".[58]
  • In the novel, Alex is offered up for treatment after killing a fellow inmate who was sexually harassing him. In the film, this scene was cut out and, instead of Alex practically volunteering for the procedure, he was simply selected by the head of the government due to speaking out of turn.
  • Alex's prison number in the novel is 6655321. His prison number in the film is 655321.
  • In the novel, Alex drugs and rapes two ten-year-old girls. In the film, the girls are young adults that seem to have consensual, playful sex with him, with no suggestion of using any drugs and without any violence.
  • In the novel, the writer was working on a manuscript called A Clockwork Orange when Alex and his gang are breaking into his house. In the movie, the title of the manuscript is not visible, leaving no literal reference to the title of the movie. Some explanations of the title are offered in the Analysis section of the novel.
  • Early in the film, Alex and his droogs brutally attack a drunk, homeless man. Later, when Alex is returned to society, he is recognised by the same man. The homeless man gathers several other homeless men to beat Alex, who is unable to defend himself. These scenes do not appear in the book, but there is a similar scene in which an elderly man heading home from the library is beaten and his books destroyed by the droogs. After Alex is returned to society, he decides he wants to kill himself and goes to a library to find a book on how to do it. There, he is recognized by the man he had beaten and is attacked by him and a gang of other old library patrons.
  • Alex is beaten nearly to death by the police after his rehabilitation. In the film, the policemen are his former droogs, Dim and Georgie. In the book, instead of Georgie, who was said to have been killed, the second officer is Billy Boy, the leader of the opposing gang that Alex and his droogs fought earlier, both in the movie and the book.
  • In the novel, Alex is accidentally conditioned against all music, but in the film he is only conditioned against Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

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