The World and A Clockwork Orange


Hi, hi, hi there.

In our upcoming episode of WTM we'll be breaking down Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. To better prepare you, I wanted to set the stage of what the world was like during the filming of the movie.

While watching older films, I often ask myself - what was happening in the world at this time? Film and world events are often intertwined. Art is representative of life, as much as life imitates art. The main themes I pull from A Clockwork Orange are the love of and desensitization to violence, escape and isolation of people, freedom of choice (moral or immoral) and social disorder and fears of the state. With those themes in mind, I analyzed (e.g. Googled, Wiki'd) historical events that took place during the filming and up to the release of the film in New York City (September 1970 - December, 1971).

The events primarily relate to the US and Britain, given the film has an American director and is set in Britain. There are exceptions, but this was the best way to cut to the core of the audiences most represented in the film. In addition, I've added a quote to each theme to support my reasoning and photos for your enjoyment.

Theme #1: Love of and Desensitization to Violence

Alex DeLarge

Alex DeLarge

"What we were after now was the old surprise visit. That was a real kick and good for laughs and lashings of the old ultraviolent." - Alex

  • Monday Night Football debuts on ABC thus bringing one of America's most violent sports to prime time TV..
  • In Los Angeles, Charles Manson and 3 female "Family" members are found guilty of the 1969 Tate–LaBianca murders. Charles Manson is sentenced to death.
  • Evel Knievel sets a world record and jumps 19 cars in Ontario, California.
  • Boxer Joe Frazier defeats Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden in "The Fight of the Century".
  • In Washington state, a man calling himself D. B. Cooper parachutes from the Northwest Orient Airlines plane he'd hijacked, with $200,000 in ransom money, and is never seen again.
D.B. Cooper

D.B. Cooper

Theme #2: Escape and Isolation of People

Alex and his Droogs

Alex and his Droogs

"What sort of a world is it at all? Men on the moon, and men spinning around the earth, and there's not no attention paid to earthly law and order no more." - Tramp

  • Space race is in full swing, with the US and Soviet Union focusing on exploration outside of Earth:
    • Luna 16 lands on the Moon and lifts off the next day with samples.
    • The Soviet Union launches the Zond 8 lunar probe.
    • The Soviet Union launches Luna 17. This orbiting spacecraft goes on to launch Lunokhod 1 on the Moon, making it the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another world.
    • The Soviet Union's Venera 7 becomes the first spacecraft to land successfully on Venus and transmit data back to Earth.
    • Apollo 14 lands on the Moon.
    • Mars 2 is launched by the Soviet Union.
    • The Soviet Union launches Salyut 1, the world's first manned space station.
    • Mariner 9 is launched toward Mars and becomes the first spacecraft to enter Mars orbit successfully.
    • After a successful mission aboard Salyut 1, the crew of the Soyuz 11 spacecraft are killed when their air supply leaks out through a faulty valve.
    • The United Kingdom opts out of the Space Race, with the cancellation of its Black Arrow launch vehicle.
    • Apollo 15 is launched.
  • American musician Jimi Hendrix dies from an overdose of sleeping pills.
  • Paul McCartney sues to dissolve The Beatles' legal partnership.
  • An air crash at Rijeka Airport, Yugoslavia kills 78 people, mostly British tourists.
  • Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors is found dead in his bathtub in Paris, France.
  • Intel releases the world's first microprocessor, the Intel 4004. Thus begins the rise of the robots.
Apollo 14 Crew

Apollo 14 Crew

Theme #3: Freedom of Choice

Prison Chaplain addressing prisoners

Prison Chaplain addressing prisoners

"Goodness is something to be chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man." - Prison Chaplain

  • The first women's only tennis tournament begins in Houston, known as the Houston Women's Invitation.
  • A ban on radio and television cigarette advertisements goes into effect in the United States.
  • Switzerland gives women voting rights in state elections, but not in all canton-specific ones.
  • The 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution, formally certified by President Richard Nixon, lowers the voting age from 21 to 18.
US President Nixon addressing Americans

US President Nixon addressing Americans

Theme #4: Social Disorder and Fears of the State

Minister of the Interior and Alex

Minister of the Interior and Alex

"We are not concerned with motives, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime and with relieving the ghastly congestion in our prisons." - Minister

  • An assassination attempt against King Hussein of Jordan precipitates the Black September crisis.
  • The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacks 4 passenger aircraft from Pan Am, TWA and Swissair on flights to New York from Brussels, Frankfurt and Zürich.
  • A bomb explodes in the men's room at the United States Capitol. The Weather Underground claims responsibility.
  • The British postal workers' strike, led by UPW General Secretary Tom Jackson.
  • Five hundred thousand people in Washington, D.C. and 125,000 in San Francisco march in protest against the Vietnam War.
  • The Canadian government declares a state of emergency and outlaws the Quebec Liberation Front.
  • The government of Poland announces food price increases. Riots and looting lead to a bloody confrontation between the rioters and the government.
  • The United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is established.
  • Nixon signs into law the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
  • Strikes in Poland demand the resignation of Interior Minister Kazimierz Świtała. He resigns and is replaced by Franciszek Szlachcic.
  • The US, UK, USSR and others sign the Seabed Treaty, outlawing nuclear weapons on the ocean floor.
  • Protesting Belgian farmers bring 3 live cows to crash the EEC meeting in Brussels.
  • The Citizens' Commission to Investigate the Federal Bureau of Investigations breaks into their offices.
  • The New York Times begins to publish the Pentagon Papers. The Supreme Court rejects the government injunctions to prevent their release.
  • President Richard Nixon declares the U.S. War on Drugs.
  • British troops are stationed on the Ireland border to stop arms smuggling.
  • Camden, New Jersey erupts in race riots following the beating death of a Puerto Rican motorist by city police. Looting and arson occurred. This is a turning point in Camden's decline to one of the poorest and highest-crime municipalities in the United States.
  • A bomb explodes at the top of the Post Office Tower in London.
US President Nixon and John McCain

US President Nixon and John McCain

The historical context helps to appreciate the film in it's time and better place you in a theater seat upon it's initial release. This background will ensure your listening of our newest podcast is real horrorshow.