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Star of cult classic went temporarily blind from ‘most gruesome scene in movie history’

Star of cult classic went temporarily blind from ‘most gruesome scene in movie history’

Malcolm McDowell opened up about the brutal scene

Malcolm McDowell really did suffer for one of the most iconic and ruthless scenes in film history.

The film is considered a must watch for any film fan, and while it might appear more tame by modern standards, when it came out in 1971 it was certainly divisive.

The flick, directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick, is set in a future England where gang leader Alex and his followers regularly go on rampages at night causing destruction and dismay.

One night they collectively rape and murder a woman with Alex agreeing to behavior modification technique to earn his freedom.

It is here that people sit through the uncomfortable scene.

While the film might appear more tame by modern standards, when it came out in 1971 it was certainly divisive.(Warner Bros)
While the film might appear more tame by modern standards, when it came out in 1971 it was certainly divisive.(Warner Bros)

In A Clockwork Orange, Alex is strapped to a chair, with his eyes pried open and forced to look at images in the hopes it will cure his violent and psychopathic tendencies.

In the book the film is based off, by Anthony Burgess, the scene is written in futuristic slang and is described as: “I had truly done my best, morning and afternoon, to play it their way and sit like a horrorshow cooperative malchik in the chair of torture, while they flashed nasty bits of ultraviolence on the screen.”

To make the scene look as realistic as possible, it involved using real lid-locks, the same kind used in eye surgery. To make things worse, the actor Malcolm McDowell was wearing a straitjacket and needed his eyes anaesthetised during the painful procedure.

Warning: Graphic content

While it can be uncomfortable for the viewer to watch, McDowell explained that he actually suffered injuries for his efforts in the scene. He event briefly went blind after shooting the scenes.

Speaking in 2019 he said: "During our preparation, Stanley showed me a picture of an eye-operation patient with lid-locks on and asked me if I could have that done to me: ‘Hell, no!’ I said.

"So he brought in a doctor to anaesthetise my eyes. But most eye operations are done with the patient lying on their back, not sitting up watching videos.”

The lab coat standing next to Alex in the film was actually a real doctor who applied eye drops to McDowell’s eyes every 15 seconds.

Alex is strapped to a chair, with his eyes pried open and forced to watch images that hopes to cure his violent and psychopathic tendencies. (Warner Bros)
Alex is strapped to a chair, with his eyes pried open and forced to watch images that hopes to cure his violent and psychopathic tendencies. (Warner Bros)

He went on to reveal that he temporarily went blind after shooting the scene, adding to the unnerving nature of the overall scene.

The actor said the clamps also kept ‘sliding off’ his eyelids ended up 'scratching his cornea'.

This left the actor in so much discomfort he ended up repeatedly banging his head against the wall.

But he confessed: “Stanley was mainly concerned about when he would be able to get his next shot.”

Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Topics: Film and TV, Celebrity