The late, great Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange tells the story Alexander DeLarge, a sociopathic juvenile delinquent who lives in a dystopian version of London in the not-so-distant future. Alex revels in what he calls "ultraviolence," which includes robbery, assault (including sexual assault) and eventually murder. Basically, he makes Joffrey Baratheon look like Dennis the Menace.
Despite that, Alex DeLarge remains one of the most iconic characters in the history of film. In 2003, Alex was ranked as the 12th greatest villain of all time by AFI. Stars such as Heath Ledger and David Bowie have used Alex as a muse for their work. Even The Simpsons has referenced Alex on multiple occasions. What is it about Alex? Why is a young man so evil so appealing at the same time?
Alex May Be Malicious, But He's Also Charming And Funny
Part of Alex's allure is his charm and wit. His easygoing personality and seemingly affable nature make him extremely difficult to hate. Yes, he's a demon at night, but during the day — when it’s time to put on appearances and/or seduce women into consensual sex — he’s cooler than the other side of the pillow.
Even when he’s out committing egregious acts, his repulsive antics can be absolutely hilarious. A prime example is the scene where he invades Mr. and Mrs. Alexander’s home and sings "Singin' in the Rain" while assaulting them. He even manages to showcase his sense of humor while winning over the minister of the interior towards the end of the film, as seen in the video below.
He's One Smart Mofo
Another reason we as the audience are so drawn to Alex is because of his intelligence. He knows exactly how to manipulate certain people, and he uses it to his advantage.
After he’s imprisoned, he immediately gets on good terms with the prison chaplain to appear like a model inmate (all the while daydreaming of being one of the Roman soldiers that leads Jesus to his crucifixion). When the minister of the interior visits the prison to choose a guinea pig for the Ludovico Technique, Alex makes sure he impresses him so he can be chosen. Naturally, Alex doesn’t want to be picked for the experiment to truly change his ways. He does it for his "get out of jail free" card, and it works.
Alex is also bilingual. Throughout the film, he and his "droogs" speak Nadsat, which is a language made up of Cockney rhyming slang, Russian colloquialisms and some elementary school style vernacular.
Alex Is Actually A Victim ... Sort Of
Remember when I mentioned that Alex signing up for the Ludovico Technique was a get out of jail free card? Well, that pass cost him a lot — a whole lot. The technique not only rids Alex of his violent tendencies, but it also rids him of his ability to defend himself against people that attack him. It even prevents him from listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which is Alex’s favorite musical piece.
After the experiment, Alex becomes the eponymous clockwork orange: organic on the outside, but mechanical on the inside — a tool used by the government to sway public opinion. You can’t help but feel bad for the guy when he’s released from prison and all his former victims exact their revenge on him. Alex is completely helpless to protect himself and each situation escalates into something worse.
On the other hand, I must admit that it's also a bit satisfying to see Alex's bad karma come back to haunt him. Towards the end of the film, the government uses Alex yet again to gain popularity, only this time, they have to make up for the bad press they received for Alex’s multiple assaults and eventual suicide attempt. To rectify things, they reverse the treatment and give Alex a job in their organization, making him even more dangerous.
Last But Not Least, Alex Was A Style Icon
Ever since A Clockwork Orange was released, Alex and his droogs' style has been imitated by nearly everyone from Rupert Grint (otherwise known as Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter series) to Christina Aguilera. Yes, men and women have dressed as Alex for Halloween parties and makeup artists have used Alex's influence for runway models. Rihanna bit Alex's style for her 2011 "You Da One" video. Check it out below:
Alex may be a heinous little sh*t, but he’s an appealing little sh*t. Unlike the Ramsey Boltons of the world, Alex DeLarge has great characteristics that go hand-in-hand with his deplorable persona. It’s safe to say that Alex’s charisma, intelligence, chic fashion sense and empathetic story gave birth to lovable villains like Hans Landa, Loki and Hannibal Lector.
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So let's show the proper admiration for our dear little Alex, who has provided so much enjoyment and inspiration for us to viddy. Rightey-right.
Do you find Alex charming or just totally evil? What other characters do you hate and love at the same time? Let us know in the comments below!