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The ending of the film perplexed me a bit. The main hero says, quote, "I was cured alright".

While that could be interpreted as honest and truthful, the final scene (the fantasized orgy) makes me think, he might have been sarcastic with that last remark, and maybe he pretended to be cured to get out of the therapy program. Is there any (other) significance to that fantasy? Was Alex honest when he said he was cured?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 32 down vote accepted

One thing you have to understand is that the book this movie was based on had a missing last chapter in American books. In the American books, the last chapter mirrored the last part of the film. In the UK version, the last chapter shows that Alex was 'cured' as much as possible, in that he ultimately gave up on violence of his own free will. See the Wikipedia article here.

In the movie, as it stands, the 'cure' is that Alex was able to think for himself again, society be damned. The implication of the ending of the movie is that the politicians were willing to let Alex be his old self again, as long as it made them (temporarily) look good (not to mention that they used Alex's conditioning and subsequent rehabilitation to settle a score against the writer who drove Alex insane). So yes, he was being sarcastic, in that he was cured, all right - he was back to the same guy he was before.

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What Barry says could be correct, but I doubt Mr Kubrick would show anything that goes against proven science. The conditioning shown in this movie is also known as Pavlovian conditioning. In short, Pavlovian conditioning says that once your mind is conditioned to perform certain activities in the presence of certain stimuli (external or otherwise), it will continue to do so involuntarily.

Read the the Pavlov dog experiment for more details.

In this movie, the example would be the scene when Alex throws while indulging in violence after the conditioning is complete.

So I think, that when Alex says 'I was cured alright', he means that even though he is willing to continue his violent lifestyle (read conscious remains uncured) he cannot do to so because his body betrays him (read subconsciously cured (from society's perspective of preventing violence).

Just my tuppence worth.

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A very interesting view on the matter, and certainly food for thought. Thank you. – OddCore Dec 29 '11 at 7:41
Extra info: Something interesting is that Mr Kubrick might have misinterpreted the original work of Burgess: The book I am best known for, or only known for, is a novel I am prepared to repudiate: written a quarter of a century ago, a jeu d’esprit knocked off for money in three weeks, it became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence. The film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me till I die. I should not have written the book because of this danger of misinterpretation. – Lelouch Lamperouge Dec 29 '11 at 7:54
This is important - have you read the book yourself? I would love to gain some insight into what the original meaning, feeling and interpretation behind the book is, and how the movie misdirected the viewer's perspective on the story. – OddCore Dec 29 '11 at 10:06
I really have not, although I would definitely love to – Lelouch Lamperouge Dec 29 '11 at 11:17

IMHO, the final scene in the movie shows Alex's priorities have changed: he formerly enjoyed being a criminal who operated outside of society, but now he looks forward to a more socially acceptable lifestyle -- while still retaining some of his wild nature.

Note the scene appears to be a fantasy Alex experiences just after he agrees to play along with the government's explanation of what happened to him. In effect, Alex has just made a deal with society in which he will be rewarded if he controls himself to some extent. In a sense, he has matured.

Accordingly, this change is evident in the final scene's fantasy depiction of a man (presumably Alex) having sex with a woman as a crowd of well-dressed "normal" people watches and applauds. Note how Alex's fantasy-life has changed: The sex seems a bit wild, but it is monogamous (contrasting with an earlier threesome) and it is consensual (at least in comparison to earlier rapes) -- which is apparently enough to earn the approval of society (versus the condemnation of society that Alex used to earn).

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shane finneran hit it in the head...i'd also add that alex's comment at the end was indeed sarcastic in the sense that he was "cured" as in "he gave in and conformed to society," which is pretty nuts in and of itself...if we want to refer conforming to society as being cured, it is indeed pretty twisted, is it not? :) anyway, loved the movie!! – user5674 Aug 5 '13 at 4:54

Personally, I don't think its positive for "our narrator" when he says 'I was cured' and then has that mad look on his face lets us imagine he is cured from being able to use his own will...and bad things are still going to happen to him.

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I believe in a sort of compromise between the previous responses. In the last couple scenes Alex appears with a seemingly well respected, or at least important, member of society. He makes a deal with this man (Fred) which symbolizes his deal with the government and therefore society. Fred arranges for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony to be played, as a treat for Alex because he thinks he will enjoy this song. Previously in the movie, this song made Alex want to kill himself. It made him go crazy (due to the conditioning). Just as Beethoven meant for the song to symbolize when he wrote it, it symbolizes in Alex the ups and downs of his life. This parallels the ups and downs of society, as Beethoven had hoped. While this song is playing Alex is being photographed by paparazzi and is conforming to proper societal norms in these photographs. He is seen hugging Fred; symbolically approving of the government. However, the very last scene of the movie is an orgy with Alex and a women, along with a group of proper, elderly women who are applauding him. The last words of the movie were "I was cured alright." This can be interpreted as sarcastic or sincere, yet I believe it is a slight mixture. The orgy appears to be consensual and non violent, as well as monogamous (as opposed to his previous sexual acts). The fact that the orgy is in combination with approving, conservative women, and the fact that he is looking good in societies eyes (the paparazzi), seems to hint that he is accepted in society. The last line purposefully sounds satyrical because it shows the real Alex that we knew in the beginning, yet a nonviolent version; a changed version. It shows that now he is conscious and able to make decisions and think for himself, as if the treatment no longer effects him in such harmful ways, but the fact that the orgy is consensual, monogamous, and approved by society shows that he is now a "good person."

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I think all these answers forget just how self centered the character is throughout the movie. He knows he is in a position of power and having the official cutting his steak and feeding it to him symbolizes that. Still, he's not a bright individual so he sees his future as "cured" meaning a part he can play that will be sanctioned by higher powers. Yes, the girl in the final scene is smiling, but her wrists are being held. He, Alex, is in power, and he's going to use it to get all the sex and money he can get his hands on. The one caveat is that there is no blood or violence overt in the scene. That could be that the people cheering him on, as the establishment, will whitewash his actions and/or it may mean that he has "evolved" past his need for violence in favor of power.

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Hi! Welcome to Movies & TV! I hope you're enjoying it here. One small request, though: I think it's pretty clear that you thought this answer out pretty well, but is there any chance you could provide some citation? (Even just one or two picture(s), screenshot(s), or videos from "Clockwork Orange" to illustrate your point.) Thanks! – ghostdog Oct 17 at 1:33

protected by Ankit Sharma Nov 6 at 10:46

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