Even in death, A Clockwork Orange's Anthony Burgess is more productive than you

Even in death, A Clockwork Orange's Anthony Burgess is more productive than you

Dead screenwriters—they’re so hot right now. In a discovery serendipitously timed with the 40th anniversary screening of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange at Cannes, the BBC reports that the original screenplay novelist Anthony Burgess drafted for the film (the one Kubrick famously rejected in favor of his own) has turned up in a vast archive of unpublished short stories—nearly 20 in all—and other previously unseen theater and film scripts, including one for a Napoleon biopic Kubrick was considering. According to Burgess’ biographer, Burgess’ screenplay for A Clockwork Orange is “quite a bit more violent” than the finished version, which was already so violent that Kubrick pulled it from theaters in 1971. How much more violent? “There's a scene early on where Alex opens his bedroom cupboard and it's full of drugs, hypodermic needles, and a child's skull." Oh, mid-century, so adorably quaint.

You may also get to see for yourself if the script is published as planned, hopefully alongside some of those short stories (a rarity for Burgess), many of which are said to be “very nasty and tending towards the supernatural as well—a lot of ghost stories or stories about Gods who come down to earth." Also in there: A collection of weird ephemera like a signed photo from Burgess’ pal Benny Hill, “a set of home-made tarot cards, and translations of obscene Roman poems that he worked on for Playboy magazine” (hot!), plus scripts for TV miniseries about Attila The Hun, Sigmund Freud, and Michelangelo, a musical about Leon Trotsky and another based on James Joyce’s Ulysses, and nearly 200 other compositions, including three symphonies and a ballet about Shakespeare. Once again, the dead rise to make the living look like useless layabouts.

Filed Under: Film, Books

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