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A Clockwork Orange at 50: Malcolm McDowell “It’s a Black Comedy”

Burgess was a linguist and his resolution to make a new hybrid youth slang was a sensible one. He wished the youths on this world to really feel ‘other’ and separate from the grown ups however felt if he’d chosen to make use of up to date slang that the e-book would date rapidly. It was a shrewd transfer that Kubrick caught to, serving to the movie have a sense of timelessness.

Then there have been the enduring costumes worn by Alex and his droogs – faraway from any explicit period of trend they had been easy however instantly intimidating. The look took place through a second of serendipity between McDowell and Kubrick when Kubrick requested his star what he had in thoughts for the costume himself. 


“I said ‘Futuristic, I don’t know!’” McDowell laughs. “He goes, ‘What have you got?’  I went ‘What have I got? I mean I’ve got jeans and a T-shirt and I’ve got my cricket gear in the car’. He goes, ‘We’ll put it on. And then ‘What’s this?’ I went, ‘Well, that’s the protector’. He said ‘Wear it on the outside’. And that’s the iconic costume, right there, boom.”

McDowell says he had round six months of prep time the place he obtained to know Kubrick very well, the place Kubrick grew to belief him which he describes as being actually enjoyable. That belief between the 2 was vital – McDowell had heavy lifting to do bodily, together with the indelible scenes of the ‘Ludovico technique’ which noticed his eyelids pinned again (he scratched a cornea) and the humiliation scene, after his conversion, (he cracked a number of ribs). McDowell performs this down, “Most of the time it was fun to do. I had a couple of injuries but they weren’t life threatening. They were fairly painful, but it was really a small price to pay.”

On a rewatch these moments nonetheless standout, although there are others too – an prolonged sequence the place Alex is being drowned in a trough by his former pals knocks the breath out of you. 

“To be honest with you, it’s a complete cheat,” says McDowell of the scene. “There’s one cut right at the beginning. That water was cold and they coloured it with Bovril. I mean can you imagine beef extract? It stank to high heaven, it was absolutely like shit! And it was cold because we shot it I think in November. So they couldn’t heat the water because it steamed. I could only literally last three to five seconds before I had to come up for air. And so he put a tank of oxygen in there with a mouthpiece, and I spent my time trying to find the mouthpiece, which was bobbing around. It was harrowing.”


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