Week 8 – A Clockwork Orange

Throughout the film, A Clockwork Orange, the orchestral soundtrack as well as the sound effects – which are often tied together throughout the film – are utilized to not only convey the psychological state of the main character, Alex, but to create a mirror with the emotional experience that the audience undergoes (which lies in parallel with Alex’s own psychological journey).  As Alex experiences a certain psychological hysteria – a high of sorts – in the actions of completing his delinquent crimes, the music that we hear reflects his chaotic state of mind, projecting it onto the audience.  As the classical music clashes with the actions and setting, not only portraying but giving insight into his deranged mind – we absorb it all.  The blatant discord between the situation at hand and the music overlain creates a sense of hysteria and harmonious confusion within the audience, maybe even nauseousness.

In that sense, we are able to connect with Alex’s character, seeing through his eyes and mind vicariously, using the sounds and their interaction with the visual cinema as vessels.  For example, in the scene where Alex daydreams, a very ominous brass instrument-heavy melody begins, then followed by a serene violin solo, expressing the peaceful, dream-like state within Alex’s mind.

Also, it seems that the use of classical music almost completely embodies the emotions Alex is feeling at the time it plays; his love and enthusiasm for rape and crime is manifested in his love for Beethoven, as music is blasted loudly and shamelessly during Alex’s moments of euphoria and the most seemingly disturbing and morally-unhinged of scenes.

The absence of music throughout the film often signifies Alex’s disconnect from the rest of the world – his isolation from it – as well represents how the world has turned into a force bent on destroying him, his victims now having become his oppressors.

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2 thoughts on “Week 8 – A Clockwork Orange

  1. I find it very interesting that you compare the music choices with Alex’s psychological state of mind. This is a very insightful and accurate observation. It is also important to keep this in mind because something that Alex once found beautiful and peaceful becomes his torture. That is the ultimate payback of the people he did wrong unto because he can no longer enjoy something he once loved – further emphasizing the importance of sound in this movie. I like how you say the music helps us see through Alex’s eyes vicariously. It broadens the thoughts the audience is exposed to even further as we don’t only get a sense of what Alex is thinking, but how he is feeling too. This becomes especially vital during the transition between Beethoven’s songs being joyful music to torturous music. Sound or the absence of sound definitely shapes the mind frame of the audience throughout this movie.

  2. I agree with you that the music portrays Alex’s psychological states. The happy, lighthearted music lets us know that Alex enjoys what he does when we hear it. This illustrates Kubrick’s style of presenting characters that are not meant to be grown emotionally attached to, in objective situations — if this had been made by a director that is any less unique, he or she would have played dark music in the background to go along with the dark visuals.Thus, music fit for a rape scene would be played during a rape scene, instead of Kubrick’s use of happy songs like “Ode to Joy” (a song that celebrates the unity of humanity) during such a blatant act of sadism. But, as we have all mentioned, this unique use of sound represents the mental state of Alex (a particularly apathetic sadist) during these acts. And in the end, the music he loved is turned against him by his former victims, so the music makes him feel what we felt when he heard it in the beginning (as we cringed while watching him and his droogs hurt people). So in the end, everyone is made a victim.

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