Why Stanley Kubrick Banned “A Clockwork Orange”

This is story of why one of the world’s great directors pulled his own movie from circulation.

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The crimes could be scenes from A Clockwork Orange: a boy beats a homeless man to death for a few pennies; a 16-year old dressed like Alex and his droogs savagely beats and kicks a 15-year old; a 17-year old Dutch girl is gang raped by a group of Lancashire boys as they sing Singin’ In The Rain.

But these weren’t scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece – they were events that occurred in the real world a year after its release. The film, a smash hit, immediately got the attention of moralizers and puritans, who were shocked and appalled at the way Kubrick mixed sex and violence, and the seductive way that he portrayed Alex’s life of delinquency. When these crimes started happening – crimes that one judge explicitly said were part of a “horrible trend which has been inspired by this wretched film” – the outcry against A Clockwork Orange grew louder.

Kubrick had stood steadfast by his film, but something about these crimes troubled him. He met with Warner Bros and they came to a decision: the movie would be pulled from release in the United Kingdom.

Over the years legend had it that A Clockwork Orange was one of the Video Nasties, one of the films banned by Britain because of its content, but the truth is that it was Kubrick himself who made the choice. Julian Senior, who was then vice-president of Warner Bros, told The Guardian, “The police were saying to us: ‘We think you should do something about this. It is getting dangerous.’”

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