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How Long Did it Take Anthony Burgess to Write “A Clockwork Orange”?

John Anthony Burgess Wilson was an English writer and composer. Despite being primarily a comic writer, Burgess’s dystopian satire, A Clockwork Orange, is his best-known novel. Stanley Kubrick adapted it into a controversial film in 1971, which Burgess said was primarily responsible for the book’s popularity. Did you know how long did it take him to write the novel?

After being misdiagnosed with brain cancer and given a year to live, Anthony Burgess wrote A Clockwork Orange in three weeks. He decided to spend that year writing five novels to provide for his wife after his death. He, ironically, outlived her.

The Controversial Orange 

A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick was once an X-rated film that Roman Catholics in the United States were forbidden from seeing. The film, which was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, is now in the National Film Registry, and it was named to the AFI’s list of the 100 greatest American films of all time.

Because it was a British co-production, it was also included on the BFI’s list of the 100 best British films. However, Warner Bros. pulled it from release in the United Kingdom. At Kubrick’s request, it was removed from the market in 1973 and was not reintroduced until after he died in 1999.

In a nutshell, A Clockwork Orange is a classic with a contentious past. Kubrick was known for his systematic approach as a filmmaker.

Plays like a critique of control-freakery made by a control freak. Was Kubrick effectively the victim of censorship, or its most notorious and autocratic perpetrator?

Stanley Kubrick

Kubrick’s film was widely released in the United States in 1972, but the Anthony Burgess novel from which it was adapted and voiceovers were already published ten years earlier. However, following the film’s release, the book was banned in schools and libraries across the country. The moving image’s power had a significant impact on how people perceived it.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) eventually phased out the X rating after it became associated with pornography. The sexual violence in A Clockwork Orange contributed to the film’s intense controversy. (Source: Slash Film

The Disturbing Orange

The character of Alex DeLarge is introduced in A Clockwork Orange played by Malcolm Dowell.  

The most controversially notorious scene in A Clockwork Orange is the home invasion, in which thugs paralyze a writer, and Alex sexually assaults his wife to the tune of Singing in the Rain, a song previously associated with the beloved Gene Kelly musical of the same name.

In contrast to that film, there is no romance in A Clockwork Orange, and the comedy is only described as the darkest of gallows humor. However, the home invasion scene was based on a true crime committed by four soldiers against Burgess’ wife in 1944.

Concerns about copycat violence arose again, fueled by the murder of a homeless person in England.  In A Clockwork Orange, Alex assaults a homeless man and murders a cat lady before being arrested. He then volunteers for rehabilitation through governmental aversion therapy, in which his eyes are literally pried open and he is forced to watch disturbing images until the mere thought of sex and violence makes him sick.

Kubrick cut two explicit scenes to get an R-rating, but the film’s legacy transcended censorship and endured. Nonetheless, given the film’s visceral subject matter, it’s easy to see why A Clockwork Orange was so divisive in its day. (Source: Slash Film

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