Week 8 Sound

A Clockwork Orange definitely did not settle well with me. The film is definitely disturbing to say the list. However, this is not to say that the movie is not well constructed, directed, scripted, etc. Sound plays an integral role through out the entire film. During the two and half hour screen time, the amount of time there was music playing in the background greatly exceeds the handful of times no sound is heard. This is true right from the very beginning of the film where we first hear extra-diegetic sounds. Generally in films extra-diegetic sounds are used to emphasize what is occurring on screen. Usually it adds to the spectators’ senses and creates a mood that parallels that of the movie. However, this film really does quite the opposite. It takes Classical music and pairs it with extremely unsettling images and movements. This creates a sense of confusion and– in my opinion– just adds on to the disturbance factor. We see this as Alex belches “Singing in the Rain” while him and his buddies shamelessly harass an innocent couple. He rapes the mans wife right in front of his very eyes, conditioning the fellow to recall this terror every time he hears that song. To be honest, I am not sure if I will ever look at that song the same way. Diegetic sounds are heard here as well: as the couple squeals as Alex beats them. It is obvious Alex is fond of music seeing as he possesses a countless number of records in his room. Not to mention he picks up two women in a record store. That scene also uses music in a brilliant manner.  As the scene is put in fast-forward, the music also quickens in pace. In the end when Alex is being beaten by the police, the sound of the bar hitting him yielded a different unique sound every time. I am not quite sure what the meaning behind this was but maybe it is just to show that his life is in complete disarray? Also, because there was usually some sort of sound present in the background, when there wasn’t you knew something serious was happening. For instance, when there were serious conversations whether it was when he was in jail or eating dinner at his previous victims house, no sound existed.


4 thoughts on “Week 8 Sound

  1. The reference to the bathtub hitting by the police is really interesting. My guess is maybe as the number of bathtub hits went up, the sound got progressively more dreadful as if to show that Alex is in increasing levels of pain and disarray. That scene is also interesting because the sounds allow the viewer to indulge in the horror that Alex is experiencing. The sounds make you feel the dread of being drowned. The viewer is in a similar amount of agony as Alex. Also I think this scene has significance to the fact that the government has completely gone off the rails and are using ex convicts as brutal police officers. This is another way that the director shows the immorality of the futuristic British government.

  2. I agree with you tenfold that A Clockwork Orange is truly an unsettling film. However, as you also stated, you have to admire Kubrick’s work for it is uniquely magnificent. I had never seen a movie in which sound played a more unique role than in this one.

    It’s interesting that in your post you used the word “conditioned” because the conditioning of music did not just happen in the film to the old man with “Singing in the Rain” and Alex with “Beethoven’s 9th”. Consequently, it also happens to those who watch the film as well. By the end of the film, the audience is also conditioned to feel unsettled towards the classical music within the movie as they expect Alex to be up to something repulsively evil. I relate this to Jaws in which the audience expects the shark to appear when they hear its memorable score. Ultimately, some of the best filmmakers are those who can make their films have a longing effect on its audience. For example, “Singing in the Rain” will never be the same for me as well. Through sound, Kubrick definitely gives a Clockwork Orange the resonating quality so many filmmakers try and fail to do.

  3. To quote Charles de Gaulle, “Silence is the ultimate weapon of power.” And your discussions about the fact that most of the film had music playing in it got me to thinking; the parts without music are equally important, and really add to the atmosphere of the film in a way silence normally doesn’t.

    The music is indubitably important, but when it ceases, we realise that the situation has become very, very serious. Scenes with music, such as the home invasion, Kubrick presents as such that it can be viewed as a pitch-black comedy. I don’t condone it, but there is a cruel irony to “Singin’ In The Rain”. Yet the next time we enter the writer’s house, it is as silent as the grave. Alex’s life is at stake. During Alex’s conditioning, as well as the display of its success, there is no extra-diegetic music. Alex’s internal soundtrack is silent.

  4. The juxtaposition of the music to the actions onscreen definitely displays Alex’s character and the fact that he is a sociopath. Only a sociopath would sing “Singing in the Rain” while raping and beating someone. This also happens in the scene where he pushes his friends into the water and cuts his friend’s hand. I thought it was interesting that you pointed out the factor of silence in this film. When something more serious is happening we would expect to hear music playing but in this film we don’t. I think this is because we are seeing the story from Alex’s point of view and what we think is serious is not serious to Alex at all because he is a sociopath. The way the music was totally opposite not only showed us how twisted Alex’s mind is, but also created a disturbing, weird feeling to the movie.

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