Monday, January 22, 2007

A Clockwork Orange

Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange had its cinema release in 1971. In 1973 Kubrick withdrew the film from distribution in Britain after it inspired a spate of violent attacks by youths. At Ninian Park, Cardiff, some football hooligans could be seen dressed up like Alex and his droogs.

The British public wouldn't see the film again until Kubrick died in 1999. The curious had to make do with low quality pirated videos or (as in my case) nipping over to Paris to watch it in the cinema where it was permanently on show.

The film of course is based upon Anthony Burgess' book of the same name published in 1962. It's worth noting the Welsh influence upon the novel. Burgess had married Llewela Jones from Bedwellty in 1942. In that same year she was violently assaulted by a gang of American GIs and suffered a miscarriage. This episode is said to have directly inspired the violence in A Clockwork Orange, in particular, the shocking scene in which Mrs Walker is raped.

Burgess was also a polyglot with a basic grasp of the Welsh language. The term 'droog' comes from the Welsh word drwg (pronounced droog) which means 'bad', 'naughty' or 'evil'. Burgess would certainly have been familiar with the word. Burgess' wife Llewela was a bit drwg herself - she became an alcoholic and regularly slept around. Burgess often came home to find her blotto on the sofa with the likes of Dylan Thomas and other members of the literati.