YMMV: A Clockwork Orange

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Did Alex really reform at the end of the novel? Or has he simply grown tired of committing violence himself?
    • How responsible is Alex for his actions? The way he describes the urge to rape the two ten-year-old girls he comes across, it's implied he acts on uncontrollable urges, but he also willingly drinks spiked milk that makes him more violent. This is probably intended by the writer, as the book deals with the concept of free choice, specifically the choice to be violent.
    • Internet film analyst Rob Ager theorizes the Ludovico technique in the film doesn't actually work, and Alex is just an Attention Whore laying it on a bit thick to get out of jail and garner sympathy from society (and the audience) for his "plight" as a tool of the establishment.
  • Adaptation Displacement:
    • Far more people have seen the (rather faithfully adapted) film than have read the book.
    • Most people have never heard the original "Music For the Funeral For Queen Mary".
  • Award Snub: Mr. McDowell ultimately didn't win an award for his performance as Alex. He didn't even get nominated!
  • Awesome Music: Wendy Carlos' score (based on Moog synthesizers), particularly her rendition of Purcell's "Music For the Funeral For Queen Mary", which can be considered the unofficial theme music for the movie. And that's not to mention Gioachino Rossini, Edward Elgar and, above all, our old friend Ludwig van.
  • Creator Breakdown: Burgess was paranoid that he was dying of a brain tumor, so he cranked it out in less than a month.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The scene where Alex kills the Crazy Cat Lady with a phallic object.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: When the novel's most sympathetic character is a murderer and child rapist, this is inevitable.
  • Dawson Casting: At the end of the story, Alex is sixteen years old. Obviously, The Film of the Book couldn't feature a sixteen-year-old having sex on screen, so they cast twenty-eight-year-old Malcolm McDowell as Alex.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The film version of Alex.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The hammy prison guard, whose uptight nature and visible outrage at the government's method of treatment for Alex is an amusing foil to the otherwise morally ambiguous film.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Or Malcolm McDowell was, anyway.
  • Executive Meddling: In a reversal of the "Hollywood Ending" stereotype, American publishers insisted that the last chapter (where Alex decides to stop being a criminal and raise a family) be removed to make the novel more depressing.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The message of the last chapter might easily be read as "affinity to rape and violence is just a phase and teenagers grow out of it around the time they come of age".
  • Fountain of Memes: Alex and his droogs' attire in the first act of the film, the various scenes (the intro, the Power Walk at the marina and the Ludivico Treatment) parodied and paid homage to in other works, the movie poster, and just about everything that comes out of Alex's mouth.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The reports in late 2013 / early 2014 of street thugs engaging in an activity called "The Knock-Out Game", where said thugs gang-up on a random stranger and beat the crap out the them for fun, is something straight out of Alex's alley, as shown with the scene at the beginning of the film where the droogs beat up a tramp.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The name of their car is the Durango 95, although it's not a truck or an SUV. Ford released a Durango throughout the 1980s while Dodge Durango SUVs have been around since the mid 1990s.
  • Hype Backlash: This film is very much a Love It or Hate It, despite being considered a classic, many people despise it for how it glorifies sex and violence and wants the viewer to sympathize with Alex.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Alex becomes one full-on by the middle of the second act. By the third act, this is arguably exaggerated considering what happens to him. A little too sympathetic a label, but his near-raped in prison, his inability to enjoy anything in life, and the merciless beatings at the hands of his victims-turned-victimizers humanize him.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Ultra-violence."
  • Misaimed Fandom: Burgess described A Clockwork Orange as "a jeu d'esprit knocked off for money in three weeks, and it became known as the raw material for a film which accused of glorifying sex and violence. "The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me till I die."
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Alex did quite a few bad things, but as soon as he raped a woman in the Singing in the Rain scene, he was beyond redemption.
    • While in the beginning, the government states that their only concern is cutting down crime. In the end, however, they cover up the whole incident with Alex's cooperation, essentially making a Deal with the Devil to protect themselves.
    • Frank Alexander and the anti-government opposition have a somewhat justified example, given that for Frank, he gains to opportunity to avenge his wife's rape and murder at Alex's hands. He then blasts classical music, putting Alex in excruciating pain, eventually leading to a suicide attempt.
  • Narm: The face that the old man makes when he remembers who Alex is; it's supposed to be twisted in rage and horror, but the angle of the shot and the fact that he's convulsing while bent completely forward makes it look a bit silly.
  • Older Than They Think: The first adaptation of A Clockwork Orange was in 1965, in the film Vinyl by Andy Warhol.
  • True Art Is Angsty: When the book was originally brought over to American shores, the last "Happy Ending" chapter was left out, since the publishers didn't think Americans would like it. When Kubrick began writing his screenplay, he was unaware of that chapter's existence; he read it only when he was nearly finished, and he decided to leave it out because he thought it would ruin the film's message. (The chapter was added back into the American version in 1986.)
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Despite Kubrick's camera tricks (especially fish-eye lenses) and the defenestration of Alex, it's pretty hard for a good portion of the audience to forgive Alex for his rather heinous crimes.
  • What Could Have Been: There were several ideas for how the droogs should be portrayed in a movie adaptation, from preteenage mini-skirted girls to old age pensioners. Anthony Burgess himself would've liked to have the Rolling Stones play the starring roles, with Mick Jagger as Alex.