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Tuesday, 14 March, 2000, 15:05 GMT
Minister demanded Clockwork screening
Malcolm McDowell
Malcolm McDowell played Alex DeLarge in the film
The controversial film A Clockwork Orange so worried the UK Government when it was released that the home secretary arranged a secret viewing, according to a TV documentary.

Director Stanley Kubrick withdrew the film from UK cinemas in 1973 after allegations that it was inspiring young people to copy its scenes of violence.

Reginald Maudling
Reginald Maudling: Demanded a private screening
Based on a novel by Anthony Burgess, the plot centres on a Alex, a futuristic teenager played by Malcolm McDowell, who takes part in acts of highly choreographed violence. It included a gang rape to the music of Rossini and a mugging to the tune of Singing In The Rain.

Now, 12 months after Kubrick's death, the film is being re-released on Friday.

Before the film's original release in January 1972, the then Conservative home secretary Reginald Maudling demanded a private viewing, according to a Channel 4 documentary.

Censors' green light

The then British Board of Film Censors had just passed the film uncut, much to Mr Maudling's concern, according to one of the examiners who cleared the film's release, Ken Penry.

Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick was targeted by people imitating the film's characters
"Reginald Maudling came to the board, he had an interview with [the censor] Stephen Murphy, and as a result of that interview, at which I was not present, he said he wanted to see the film," he said.

Because the board wanted to avoid accusations of state censorship, a projectionist smuggled a copy of the film out of the back door of its West End headquarters to the Admiralty, where he supervised Mr Maudling's viewing.

Film critic Alexander Walker recalled: "Stanley Kubrick and the distributors, Warner Brothers, suddenly realised they were being put in the dock by no less a person than the home secretary of the day."

Acts of violence

Kubrick became a target for hate mail and abusive phone calls after a number of rapes and murders in the early 1970s were linked to the film, including a sex attack in Lancashire carried out by a gang chanting the Gene Kelly song.

The reclusive director, who lived with his wife Christiane and their three children in an isolated mansion in Hertfordshire, was himself confronted by people imitating the film's characters.

A Clockwork Orange
The film was withdrawn from UK cinemas in 1973
Walker said: "Stanley discovered that there were people who were are now familiar with, called stalkers, who felt that if they saw Stanley Kubrick, they could communicate a message to him that would be very valuable, and they would go to his doorstep and demand admission."

Police warned him the film was receiving a "demonic" level of attention, and eventually Kubrick decided to withdraw the film.

However, outside the UK, the film has continued to be shown. It is also available on video and DVD in the US and other countries.

The Return of A Clockwork Orange can be seen on Friday at 2330 GMT on FilmFour, and on Channel 4 on Saturday at the same time.

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