Kubrick’s Approach to Burgess: The Significance of Costume in A Clockwork Orange

  • Dijana Metlić Academy of Arts University of Novi Sad
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, Stanley Kubrick, Alex Delarge, film costume, class society, art, erotic art, kitsch


Based on the 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess, Stanley Kubrick wrote a screenplay, produced and directed film A Clockwork Orange in 1971. Made as decadent and nihilistic (Denby), designed in such a way as to enable viewers to enjoy scenes of rape and beatings (Kael), the film was shown in London theaters until 1974, when Kubrick withdrew it from the circulation due to the copy-cat murders in England and anonymous death threats that director’s family began to receive. This text focuses on Kubrick’s specific approach to the adaptation of Burgess’s novel through his significant use of costumes and artworks as important part of the set design, which helps the viewers to understand complex social circumstances of the late 1960s and early 1970s that caused the crucial cultural and political changes in the world. The Cold War crises, uneven economical development and the Vietnam War (1954-1975) moved young people in their teens and twenties to protest against the (unacceptable) way of life they were offered by their patriarchs. Burgess sets the story in England, in near future, after the enlightening changes initiated by the Mods and Rockers in the 1960s, announcing the emergence of the radical punk style in the second half of the 1970s. Opposing to this utopian world and the class society, Burgess’s main character Alex will have to fight against the state in order to retain his freedom of choice. By virtue of an actor Malcolm McDowell, in the Kubric’s version of the story, Alex becomes charismatic, conscious and powerful person, strong enough to confront the society and eventually retain his free will.


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How to Cite
Metlić, Dijana. 2016. “Kubrick’s Approach to Burgess: The Significance of Costume in A Clockwork Orange”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 11 (2), 477–495. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v11i2.8.