Week 8: Sound

The film “A Clockwork Orange” makes use of sound in some very obvious and some very subtle ways. The most obvious use of sound is definitely through the use of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Early in the film, our main character, Alex, very much enjoys this symphony, but after he undergoes “Ludovic’s Prison Treatment,” the song only brings him pain. This use of sound is simply to show that the prison treatment does not simply make evil things painful, but it makes beautiful things painful. The fact that something as beautiful and a Beethoven symphony can bring someone pain is a true sign of the immorality of the prison treatment.

Another use of sound is how the music affects the mood. Earlier in the film, during every scene of violence or sex, the songs create the image that Alex is enjoying what he is doing. This is done mostly through the use of Opera songs that are very high pitched and monumental. But later in the film, the music during the sex scenes and the violent scenes is dreadful, this is meant to show that Alex no longer enjoys these things. In the final scene of the film the song genre reverses back to that of a jolly and monumental nature, almost as if to show that Alex has gone back to his carefree nature. Even though he is being interrogated and conned by the government once again, he regains his inner happiness and this is expressed through the extra-diagetic sounds. This most prevalent in the mental image Alex has at the end of the movie where the sound suggests a mental breakthrough. It shows Alex, raping a girl once again but this time he responds with the expression, “Yeah they cured me.”

All in all this was a beautifully directed film where sound was used to guide the viewer in the emotional inward journey that Alex undergoes from convict, to government clone, and back to the savage convict he was born to be. Even though he is a bad person, the music allows the viewer to feel the happiness that Alex experiences when he realizes he is still himself.

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One thought on “Week 8: Sound

  1. I agree that the music played a huge part in being a successfully directed movie. When diegetic, the music expressed Alex’s joy in hurting others. Symphony No. 9 empowered Alex in his fantasies of hurting others, and then stripped his power down to feeling worthless and suicidal when one of his victims, a writer, used it against him. Also, Singing in the Rain played a role in his success and then his demise, as he pranced around while hurting the writer, and later got caught for the act because the writer was traumatized by the song. The extra-diegetic music played up the same expressions of joy and weakness. The music had a habit of taking its own power over the other sounds during Alex’s moments of power over others, as all dialogue and atmospheric sounds diminished to nothing as people got hurt. Then the music tied into the undermining of Alex’s power, eerily triumphant over the defenseless boy during and after his “treatment.”

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