List of cultural references to A Clockwork Orange
Popular culture references to Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange (1962) and Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film adaptation have been wide-ranging, from popular music and television to movies and other media. Some references are based on themes central to the story, such as the use of Nadsat words or phrases, whilst others have incorporated visual elements from the film. The film made Kubrick one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, and the film has become a cult classic.
- The film version influenced bands' fashion styles.
The film version of A Clockwork Orange immediately revolutionized the science fiction film genre, opening the way for other films to portray elaborate dystopian narratives and to intelligently analyze social dilemmas. Many film directors have borrowed themes and cinematic techniques from the film. The film is an essential part of modern cinema and films often reference it.
- Heath Ledger said he was inspired by Alex DeLarge to play the Joker in The Dark Knight.
- Films that use similar cinematic techniques to A Clockwork Orange include A Boy and His Dog, THX 1138, and Westworld.
- The torture scene in Reservoir Dogs, set to "Stuck in the Middle With You", was described by Quentin Tarantino in an interview as a direct reference to the scene in A Clockwork Orange where Alex kicks the writer and rapes his wife to the tune of "Singin' in the Rain". A Clockwork Orange is also referenced at the beginning of the film when all the men are walking in slow motion, as Alex and his droogs did.
- In Gangster No. 1, a 2000 British crime film, Malcolm McDowell, who played Alex in the film, plays the protagonist gangster as a sort of older version of Alex.
- In Trainspotting, director Danny Boyle references the bar Alex and his droogs sit in during the opening scene, where a club has similar text-based wall art.
- A reference to A Clockwork Orange is made in the Coen brothers film Fargo when a character says that they're in town for "the old in and out".
- In Batman & Robin, gang members resembling droogs from A Clockwork Orange can be seen.
- In the film Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, Jack Black, while trying to sleep on a park bench, is assaulted by a gang dressed as the droogs.
- In Richard E. Grant's film Wah-Wah, the main character, Grant himself as a child, takes comfort in watching a late-night screening of the film.
- The protagonist in Good Bye, Lenin! is named Alex, and the film features a furniture-shifting scene set to a sped-up synthesized version of the "William Tell Overture".
- In the 1999 film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Cartman is made forcibly averse to swearing through the implantation of a V-chip, much like Alex's subjection to the Ludovico technique. As with Alex, Cartman eventually loses this aversion but can use the V-chip's electroshocks that once harmed him on other people.
The original Chinese title of A Perfect Crime (下面我该干些什么?) by Chinese author A Yi (translated by Anna Holmwood) was based on the opening line of A Clockwork Orange: "What's it going to be then, eh?"
- David Bowie started most of his concerts during his Ziggy Stardust period with Beethoven’s 9th from the film's soundtrack, used the film as inspiration for stage costumes during that time, and used Alex's word for his friends when Bowie wrote the line “say droogie don’t crash here!” for the song Suffragette City.
- The WEA subsidiary record label Korova, named for the film's Korova Milk Bar, was founded in 1979 for post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen and later issued recordings by artists such as The Sound and Strawberry Switchblade.
- Post-punk band Scars referenced the film on "Horrorshow", the B-side of their debut single, "Adult/ery" (1979).
- Heaven 17, also from Sheffield, England and formed in 1980, named themselves after a fictional pop group in the book and film.
- Rosemary's Babies, a Lodi, NJ hardcore punk band formed in 1981, included the Nadsat word "ultraviolence" in their song "Happy Song". Their vocalist J.R. dressed as a droog in publicity photos and on the covers of their 1981 EP Blood Lust and its later CD release as Talking to the Dead. Both J.R. and drummer Eerie Von dressed as droogs during live performances.
- The group New Order titled one of their songs "Ultra-Violence" on their album Power, Corruption and Lies (1983).
- Seminal punk rock band Ramones named their instrumental song "Durango 95" after the car given a joyride by Alex and his droogs. The band dressed up as characters from A Clockwork Orange on the front of the album Too Tough to Die (1984).
- The music video for "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns n Roses featured Axl Rose, in occasional scenes, strapped in a chair with a brace on his forehead while watching stacked TVs with various images of violence and sex, much like the Ludovico treatment in A Clockwork Orange.
- The title of the Death Angel album The Ultra-Violence (1987) is likely a reference to A Clockwork Orange.
- In 1988, German punk rock band Die Toten Hosen released a concept album Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau (a reference to Alex's Nadsat phrase, "a bit of [the old] horrorshow [ultraviolence])", with the main song "Hier Kommt Alex" ("Here Comes Alex"). The members were also involved as musicians in a German stage production of A Clockwork Orange in 1988, and in 1994 they released an English version called "The Return of Alex".
- The 1991 single release of U2's "The Fly" featured the B-side "Alex Descends Into Hell for a Bottle of Milk/Korova 1", from the score of the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of A Clockwork Orange. The performance was scored by Bono and The Edge.
- British indie group Campag Velocet took the word "Velocet" from a word written on the wall in the opening scene of the film.
- Anglo-Irish band Moloko, who debuted in 1995, took their name from the slang term for milk (itself from the Russian word for milk, молоко)
- Blur borrowed imagery from A Clockwork Orange for the music video to their song, "The Universal" (1995).
- The song "Well, Well, Well" from the album Giant Robot (1996) by Buckethead's band Giant Robot contains samples from the film.
- The music video to Rob Zombie's "Never Gonna Stop (The Red Red Kroovy)" was inspired by the film.
- Kylie Minogue wore a white jumper and fake eyelashes, similar to Alex's, while performing on her Fever (2001) tour.
- Polish band Myslovitz's album Korova Milky Bar (2002) referred to the film, comparing it to present situation in Poland.
- The music video for "Pacifier" by Shihad featured the band dressed as droogs in the Korova Milk Bar and also reenacting the film's joyride scene.
- A Clockwork Orange, like other dystopian science-fiction novels, had an important influence on industrial and cyberpunk music.
- The title of Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One second album, Victims of the Modern Age (2010), was a direct quote from the film. Track 4, also called "Victims of the Modern Age", is based on A Clockwork Orange with Russell Allen from Symphony X singing as the character Alex.
- In her unreleased song "Hundred Dollar Bill", Lana Del Rey references the book: "Cause I love your ultra-violent swing, I like it when you treat me mean". The title of her album, Ultraviolence (2014), is likely a reference to A Clockwork Orange.
- Cyberpunk band Sigue Sigue Sputnik referenced the film numerous times in their work. Debut single "Love Missile F1-11" opened with the word "ultraviolence" sampled directly from Alex's opening monologue in the film. This was followed by a few bars of the film's opening theme which faded into the song. Later, the phrase "righty-right", sampled from the scene where the hospitalized Alex is being assessed by the psychologist, can be heard. Part of the video made to accompany the single's release was shot in the Trinity Road underpass in Wandsworth, the same underpass where Alex and his droogs attack the vagrant at the beginning of the film. The band also recorded a song called "Ultra Violence" for their album The First Generation which featured some of the lyrics in Nadsat.
- "A Crockwork Lemon", a Mad satire by writer Stan Hart and artist George Woodbridge, appeared in the June 1973 issue. Norman Mingo's illustration for the cover showed Alfred E. Neuman as Alex.
- There have been many references to the film on South Park (when asked to name something he considered a mind-altering work of art, series co-creator Trey Parker said, "It's super cliché, but A Clockwork Orange really did fuck me up".) In the show's controversial 201st episode, "201" (2010), Mitch Connor (Cartman's hand-puppet) pretends to be a black man and asks to use the telephone at someone's house, alluding to the similar scene in A Clockwork Orange. In episode 206, "Coon 2: Hindsight" (2010), the scene where the Coon attacks the rest of his gang was reminiscent of the scene in which one of the Clockwork Orange droogs insists things be run in a "new way" that entails less power for Alex, who responds by attacking them while walking in order to re-establish his leadership. The scene also has the same music playing: an excerpt from the overture of The Thieving Magpie by Gioacchino Rossini. In episode 245, "A Song of Ass and Fire" (2013), the phallus-shaped sculpture in the house of George R. R. Martin is the same one Alex used to kill the Cat Lady.
- The Simpsons contains frequent references to the film. In the episode "Dog of Death" (March 12, 1992), Mr. Burns brainwashes the Simpsons' dog Santa's Little Helper into being one of his attack dogs by using the Ludovico Technique. In the episode "Treehouse of Horror III" (October 29, 1992), Bart dresses up as Alex DeLarge from the film. Also, in the episode "Duffless" (February 18, 1993), as a result of Lisa's electroshock therapy, Bart experiences difficulty in reaching for the cupcakes after dinner, in a manner similar to the effects of Alex's therapy; in particular, one shot parodies the film, with Bart looking up at the cupcakes on the table, in the same way Alex looks up to the actress' chest after his therapy. In the episode "Treehouse of Horror XXI", at the end of a segment titled "Master and Cadaver", Maggie is seen wearing Alex's hat and eyelash. She drinks milk from her bottle with the film's theme song playing. On October 19, 2014, the show parodied the film with a segment titled "A Clockwork Yellow" in the episode "Treehouse of Horror XXV".
- In an episode of The Goodies, titled "Invasion of the Moon Creatures", Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie return from the moon brainwashed by rabbits; they are seen harassing and beating people dressed in costumes like Alex's gang, albeit with rabbit ears on their heads and with buck teeth.
- In the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted!", the military school the boys are sent to after getting busted uses the Ludovico Technique in order to stop Phineas and Ferb from using their imagination.
- In the series Franklin & Bash, Malcolm McDowell's character uses the phrase "bit of the old in and out".
- A season 4 episode of BBC children's series Grange Hill features a shoplifting scene set in a clothes shop called Clockwork Orange.
- In the Regular Show episode "The Unicorns Have Got to Go", one of the unicorns is clearly dressed as Alex DeLarge and/or one of his droogs.
- The title of Fanboy and Chum Chum episode "A Bopwork Orange" directly referenced A Clockwork Orange; the title card of the episode also directly parodied the film's poster. The episode also featured Beethoven's Ninth Symphony prominently as incidental music and the plot bore many similarities to the film.
- In the British TV show The Thick of It, Nicola Murray refers to her daughter as "...turning into a total droog". In a later episode, Phil Smith refers to the character of Terri Coverley as "Terri's Clockwork Orange" (also a reference to Terry's Chocolate Orange, a type of chocolate in England).
- In "Moving On" (2013), a season 9 episode of The Office, Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) nicknames Clark Duke (Clark Green) "Clarkwork Orange".
- In "Untitled", the fifth episode of season 5 of Louie (2015), Louie's daughter Lily describes watching the movie during a sleepover to her father while they shop in a grocery store. Louie responds negatively.
- Professional wrestler Patrick Martin takes the first part of his ring name Alex Shelley from Alex DeLarge.
- While appearing for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Raven created the eponymous Clockwork Orange House of Fun match.
- The Netherlands national football team was nicknamed Clockwork Orange in the 1974 FIFA World Cup, for its playing organization, which became known as Total Football, combined with the orange color of its uniform.
- The opening cutscene to Rare Nintendo 64 video game Conker's Bad Fur Day is a homage to the film.
- The character Mr. Umblla (Ｍｒ．アンブラ, lit. Mr. Umbra, alternatively known as Mr. Umbrella), its respective trial "Code: Present" and the Umblla mag device in Japanese online game Phantasy Star Online 2 are a reference to Alex and some of the film's themes.
- A limited Clockwork Orange-style costume for Moe Szyslak (called "Moog") was released for the game The Simpsons: Tapped Out as a tie-in to the annual Simpsons Halloween episode, "Treehouse of Horror XXV" (which featured a parody titled "A Clockwork Yellow"). The costume could only be unlocked by playing on consecutive days in the lead-up to the premiere of the episode, and collecting all four parts of the costume.
- The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth includes an item called The Ludovico Technique.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, playing for a combined total of around 75 hours will cause the game to state the player's Addiction Level as "Ready for the old ultra-violence". This is a reference to the phrase said by Alex in the beginning of the film.
- In Borderlands 2, various Vladof guns are named using the Nadsat slang from the movie and book.
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