Sound Analysis

The use of music in A Clockwork Orange was genius. The movie cleverly used music to emphasize the sick and twisted actions associated with powerful people. Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9,” both diegetic and extra-diegetic, was the perfect use of irony to contrast pure happiness with brute force.

First I must say that “Symphony No. 9” has another name: Ode to Joy. I first noticed Alex’s infatuation with the song when he popped the tape into the player and associated the music with the joy he got from raping and beating people. The classical music was so majestic, emphasizing Alex’s power, especially when he convinced the two women with popsicles to get into bed with him. I noticed that the later scene of Alex beating up his droogs, the powerful music took over all other sounds of dialogue and atmospheric sounds that would have gone along with the knife and the splashing.

The only source of music in prison was the church sounds and the music in his own sick and twisted fantasies about being around to kill people during Jesus’ time. However, once Alex received the Ludovico treatment, the music becomes eery like the sounds in a science fiction movie. From then on, Symphony No. 9 was used diegetically for a new form of torture, torturing Alex.  I noticed that in the moment when his old friends beat him up, the majestic music again became the only sound, but with a twist. The sound of the beating stick was replaced with an instrumental sound effect that added to the new eeriness of the music. Whether or not the song was used diegetically or extra-diegetically, by the end of the movie we could see the music was vital in emphasizing not only Alex’s power, but governmental power over Alex.

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