Trainspotting and A Clockwork Orange

I recently saw the movie “Trainspotting,” and noticed many eerie similarities between the film and “A Clockwork Orange.” You could write it all off as coincidence except for the fact that when the guys are in the nightclub where Rent Boy meets his underage lover: there is a room with black walls with (“Voloko” + something) written on them in the same font and style as the Moloko bar in ACO. Also, the shot there where it slowly zooms in to the guys is basically a reverse of Kubrick’s opening shot in ACO. So, given that the director/set designer directly references ACO, the similarities don’t seem all that coincidental!

“But Trainspotting was based on a book!” you say. “I’m sure the book didn’t have that shot in it!” This is true. And all these concurrences could be a matter of synchronicity. But I thought it would be interesting to point ’em out. So, here we go…

If you took Alex + gang from ACO and put them in the the present, substituted heroin for ultraviolence, and aged everyone 6 years, you would get Trainspotting. But it helps if you sort of see Trainspotting as a kind of “real-world” “sequel” to ACO, i.e. what happened to an older gang. ***If you don’t want spoilers, you might not want to read any further***

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No, there isn’t a free will parable here, but there is the story of Rent Boy’s “rehabilitation.” And in the end, he is presumably “cured,” although not in the sense that Alex was “cured” at the end of the ACO film….. πŸ˜€

Both heroes self-narrate (in the films).

Now, if you compare this to the book version of ACO (21st Chapter included), there is an interesting parallel. The point of Chapter 21 is that Alex chose by himself, on his own free will, to stop his ultraviolence, in contrast to the Ludovico Technique, which uses drugs and conditioning with involuntary reflexes to do so. In Trainspotting, Rent Boy is on a government-provided program to quit heroin, but everyone remarks on its ineffectiveness, etc. and his parents eventually force him to get clean cold turkey, putting him through horrible hallucinations, etc. But in the end, he is clean. This is not a direct correlation, it’s more different than similar; also, the government program is an actual thing in the UK and the film was probably meant more to criticize that than to mirror ACO. But you can still see a similarity between “natural” decision/therapy and “artificial.”

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16 Responses to “Trainspotting and A Clockwork Orange”

  1. I saw Trainspotting when it originally was released in the cinemas. I didn’t see it again until another 8 years later – that was the 2nd time.
    It was only a few years ago when I first saw A Clockwork Orange & I saw it again for the 2nd time tonight.

    As far as the stories were concerned, the two are worlds apart. But thematically & visually, the two had very similar styles. The violence of Begbie (Trainspotting) was very similar to the mindless violence in ACO.

    Perhaps because much of ACO was filmed in the UK that many of the scenes/sets looked similar.

    At least ACO didn’t have two mindless “sh!t” scenes in it… πŸ˜‰

    • Davie Jones Says:

      I thought that the first shit scence was all metaphorical. he dives into the toilet… he is flushing his life down the toilet. there are land mines in the toilet… when he was looking for his dope he had to avoid the shit. landmine = shit.

  2. Maximillian Says:

    One other note about the similarities between the movies in particular the scene you mentioned about the club where he meets the underage lover. The song that is playing is “Temptation” by Heaven 17. Heaven 17 is the name of the band the girl asks Alex about in the scene where he meets the two girls at the music shop.
    Oddly enough this is something that I was thinking about at work today and so I got home and checked to see if anyone else found interesting. Guess somebody does… oh internet.

  3. Interesting comment Maximillian: yet another dimension to the homage! I was aware that an actual music group named themselves Heaven 17 after the fictional group in ACO, but I didn’t know that their music had been used in Trainspotting!

  4. hi recca, im from buenos aires, argentina, i must say sorry for my english, cause is really bad, you know, for a long time ago, i was have the SAME theory about the similaritie about this movies, about the right of choose, that no one cant be just bad or good, a man can choose what way to follow, i cant believe that i find another person whit the same theory, “saludos” from buenos aires.
    David

  5. amazing…well right now i am watching trainspotting.never heard of this movie but while surfing around found some good review and felt that it was worth a watch and while watching this movie i just could not help but think of clockwork orange.hence, i had to surf google and see if other people found similarities too.of course,trainspotting does not have great cinematography as kubrick movie does but it is still interesting and i hope to enjoy it till the end.

  6. trainspotter Says:

    its renton not rent boy πŸ˜„

  7. Yep similar themed movies… good insight!

  8. Jonas Schreiber Says:

    Hey thanks for this. I realize I’m about two years late but this is good stuff. I also believe that in the bar scene you mentioned one of the guys from ACO is in there as an extra. @ 20.59 where heaven 17 sings “keep us.from temptation.” Anyway thanks for not another self serving blog.

  9. Jonas Schreiber Says:

    I was 5alking about Warren Clarke (Dim) but if it is him he went uncredited

  10. Other parallels:

    One of the team of four gets his hand cut by another of the team.

    They are shown all together on a bus = the “auto-team” of ACO.

    In addition to the theme of choice and control, there is a theme of loyalty and betrayal among a group of mates who do crime together.

    There are many shots of Rent staring intensely into the camera, like the many shots of Alex doing the same.

    The working class parents in a modest flat are disappointed in their son.

  11. Another one: Both films are narrated in voiceover by the main character, who speaks a dialiectical form of English.

  12. My relatives always say that I am wasting my time here at net, however I know I am getting
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  13. I didn’t really like either movie. I found both of them to be absurdly disappointing. I first saw a clockwork Orange when I was about 12 years old and have seen it several times through the years. My first experience with Trainspotting was at an even younger age and if I can recall correctly, I was no more than 4 years of age. I did not quite understand the plot of either at the time but as I grew older and became more aware of the world around me, I found myself less confused by these two movies and more and more increasingly disappointed with the lack of ass eating in both films. Here I am, spending like 5 hours of my time watching these movies and there is absolutely NOT ONE scene at all that involves eating ass. I’ve gone through every scene frame by frame at least ten times and there’s not even a slight gesture at it in either movie. I’m not sure if this was an editing mistake or for some reason purposely done, but I’m really hoping for a re-release of both these films in the near future that will live up to the potential i see in them.

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