A Clockwork Orange (Film)

A Clockwork Orange (Film) Quotes and Analysis

"Ho ho ho! Well, if it isn't fat, stinkin' Billy Joe, Billy boy, and Poison. How are thou, thou globby bottle of cheap, stinkin' chip-oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if you have any yarbles, you eunuch Jelly thou!"

Alex, 00:05:58

This quote is a good representation of Kubrick's use of "Nadsat", the fictional language that Anthony Burgess created for the novel. Burgess often used Nadsat in the passages where he wanted to suppress the brutality of the violence he was describing. Burgess wrote, "to tolchock a chelloveck in the kishkas does not sound so bad as booting a man in the guts" (Burgess). Kubrick, however, had a more challenging task because he was working in the visual medium. So, when Alex and his droogs beat Billy boy and his droogs, there is a loud classical soundtrack over the scene, and the natural sound is very quiet. These techniques represent both Kubrick and Burgess' desire to portray the violence in A Clockwork Orange as Alex sees it, although detractors saw the theatrical depiction in the film as mere pornography.

"What gets into you all? ... You've got a home here, loving parents, you've got not too bad of a brain. Is it some devil that crawls inside of you?"

Mr. Deltoid, 00:24:53

This quote reveals the ideological divide between the young and the old in the dystopian setting of A Clockwork Orange. Alex never goes to school, and nobody makes him. Instead, he roams the streets with his droogs, stirring up senseless chaos. Mr. Deltoid is his post-correction officer but seems to be more interested in making sexual advances towards young Alex than getting the answer to the question he asks above. This quote also shows the gap in intelligence between Alex and the adults around him. It seems impossible that Mr. Deltoid can't see why, in the society the way it is, Alex has turned out so rotten. In fact, Alex manages to dupe almost every adult he comes in contact with over the course of the film - and it's likely because they don't try - or want - to understand him. They believe his behavior is something that can be turned on and off, or exorcised like an invading devil. Again, many critics ask the same question as Mr. Deltoid about the character of Alex - like Roger Ebert, who believed Kubrick manipulates the viewer into sympathizing with Alex instead of endowing the character with any sympathetic assets.

"What you've got back home, little sister, to play your buzzy warbles on? I bet you've got little, say, pitiful, portable picnic players. Come with uncle and hear old proper! Hear angel trumpets and devil trombones. You are invited!"

Alex, 00:27:53

Alex, unlike the common stereotype of "punks", "Mods", and hippies, is a lover of classical music, especially Beethoven. The tastes of the two women he picks up in the record store illustrate that Alex's passion is not common of youngsters in the world of A Clockwork Orange. The young women are shopping for top 10 pop albums, and it is Alex who introduces them to the glories of Beethoven (while engaging in group sex with them). Alex's relationship with music is one of the driving forces of the film, and proof of his cleverness and sophisticated taste. In his essay "A Bird of Like Rarest Heavenmetal", Peter J. Rabinowitz identifies the three major scenes in which the background score influences the plot: "When Alex lashes out at Dim in the Korova Milkbar, the 'heavenmetal' masturbation scene that follows his evening rampage, and the torture scene that leads to his attempted suicide" (McDougal 112). Alex's passion for Beethoven is unbridled. In fact, he can withstand the torture of the Ludovico technique until Beethoven starts to accompany the snuff films being forced to watch. This facet of Alex's personality is firm and constant throughout the film - and despite our narrator's unreliability in other aspects, it is the most honest and truthful love in the film.

"A lot of idiots you are, selling your birthright for a saucer of cold porridge."

Prison Chaplain, 00:53:22

This line is actually a clever allusion to the common phrase, "sell your birthright for a mess of pottage", which means when someone gives up something important to receive something trivial (often financial gain or momentary pleasure). The phrase comes from Genesis 25:29-34, in which Esau sells his birthright for a meal of lentil stew (pottage). It connotes misplaced priorities. The Prison Chaplain changes the line in his first sermon to his uninterested audience of prisoners, and refers to the fact that their choices have placed them in prison, eating prison food. Kubrick called the Chaplain "the moral voice of the film" because he advocated for moral choice. He believes that these prisoners have the capacity to change themselves. Later, he stands up against the Minister and his Ludovico technique, because Alex has changed not by his own choice, but because he is medically conditioned to act against his nature.

"I don't care about the dangers, Father. I just want to be good. I want for the rest of my life to be one act of goodness".

Alex, 01:00:24

Alex lies to the Prison Chaplain about his reformation because he wants so badly to get out of prison. He says this moments after imagining himself as a Roman soldier whipping Christ during the Crucifixion - all while pretending to be immersed in the Bible. Stanley Kubrick said of this moment, "The Chaplain, who is the only decent man in this story, is taken in by Alex's phony contrition. The scene is still another example of the blackness of Alex's soul" (Ciment 151). It's also one of many examples in the film of an authority figures seeing only what they choose to see. For Alex, nothing is sacred - not religion, not sex, not family, not friends. He feels no remorse for taking advantage of the Chaplain's fondness for him, but keeps himself focused on his selfish goal: to get out of prison in any way possible.

"I do not approve. An eye for an eye, I say. If someone hits you, you hit back - do you not? Why then should not the state, very severely hit by you brutal hooligans not hit back also?"

The Prison Governor, 01:05:52

The Prison Governor represents the current government that exists in the world of A Clockwork Orange, which is commonly thought to be socialist - tipping towards totalitarianism. There are common references to the overcrowded prisons and dangerous criminals roaming the streets. It is important to bear in mind that Anthony Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange after a trip to Leningrad in the early 1960s, and had started ruminating about the flawed nature of Communism - which he felt shifted moral responsibility from the individual to the state while disregarding the welfare of the individual. Meanwhile, Stanley Kubrick once said of his political beliefs, "I am of the opinion that the power and authority of the State should be optimized and exercised only to the extent that is required to keep things civilized" (Ciment 163).

"...I let them get on with what they wanted to get on with. If I was to be a free young malchick again in a fortnight's time, I would put up with much in the meantime, oh, my brothers."

Alex, 01:11:29

Alex prizes his freedom; and does not care one bit about his supposed reformation. Two years in prison have hardly lessened his desire to engage in criminal activity - and this shows the ineffectiveness of the prison system as it is in the world of the film. This also proves the Prison Chaplain's point that Alex has not been offered the choice to reform himself - his reformation is physically forced upon him. Therefore, when he is "cured" from the effects of the Ludovico treatment, he goes right back to the Alex from the beginning of the film - a free young malchick able to roam the streets and do as he pleases.

"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on a screen."

Alex, 01:12:53

Robert P. Kolker writes, "Kubrick lets the secret out with this line. It is the code to this machine that seems to instruct its viewers to respond with terror and amusement to grotesquely violent events, presented in large, spectacular strokes, as if they were in some way mirrors of the world we live in" (McDougal 35). While detractors of A Clockwork Orange criticize the brutal, unapologetic violence that the viewer experiences while watching the film - even comparing the film itself to the Ludovico technique, this line makes the audience question our relationship with violence in the movies. There are many other self-referential moments in A Clockwork Orange, from the visible 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack in the Record store to the use of "Singin' in the Rain" during Alex's brutal attack on the Alexanders.

"This young boy is a living witness to these diabolical proposals. The people, the common people, must know, must see ... there are traditions of liberty to defend!... They will sell their liberty for a quieter life!"

Mr. Alexander, 01:48:07

Before Mr. Alexander realizes who Alex is, he is fully prepared to use Alex as a political tool. When he calls the Conspirators to announce his plan, he unleashes his criticism against the current government in the lines above. Kubrick calls the character of Mr. Alexander "a lunatic of the Left," equating him with the Minister - they are on different sides but ultimately they both try to use Alex for the own political gains like a ping-pong poster boy, making both of them equally abhorrent. The resolution comes when Mr. Alexander puts aside his political agenda in order to torture Alex to practically kill himself - sending Alex to the side of the current, totalitarian government.

"[Mr. Alexander] found out that you had done wrong to him. At least, he believed you had done wrong. He formed this idea in his head that you had been responsible for the death of someone near and dear to him. He was a menace - we put him away for his own protection, and also for yours."

The Minister of the Interior, 02:10:13

This quote represents the Minister's ability to put aside the well-being of the individual for the benefit of the State - which was Anthony Burgess's criticism of socialism. Despite the fact that Alex did attack Mr. Alexander and rape his wife, he will never be punished for those crimes because he is too valuable a tool for the government that Alexander threatened. It also discredits all of the Minister's lofty ideals that he spouts earlier in the film, criticizing the overcrowded prisons and saying that incarceration does not allow for rehabilitation in criminals. In Alex's case, the Minister no longer cares about whether or not Alex is cured - he just cares that the government is no longer held under a media spotlight for putting Alex through the "tortures of the damned". In the way that Alex pretends to be studying the Bible while having rape fantasies, the Minister pretends to care about curing criminals simply so he can boast that he was able to reduce the crime rate. They are both individuals looking out for themselves, but the Minister, being in a position of power, is much more dangerous.