Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is a masterful film that combines many techniques and almost forbidden arts and ideals(at least for his time) to craft his sickeningly fascinating film of every dark theme imaginable from rape, murder, police brutality, corrupt government, inhumane medicine, and dystopia while mixing it well with such wonderful sounds that blatantly contrast from what is onscreen.
But the probably the most influential and integral part of what makes the film what it is would have to be the brilliant use and placement of sound. The most obvious of which is of course Beethoven’s Ninth, which became apparently symbolic of all the “good” that Alex holds: his joy, his pride, his pleasure, his dominating status, and his – or at least what he thinks – majestic and whimsical nature and ideals. Once he loses it, once it becomes his pain, his happiness is nonexistent, eliminated as byproduct of his “cure.” What was once his rapture from the filthiness of the world – including his own person – became his misery and motive to commit suicide. Interestingly, his treatment, the Ludovico Technique, sounds a lot like his dear old Ludwig van Beethoven. A clear connection that is just the one of the many pieces of irony in the film.
Of course Singing in the rain is another integral soundtrack in the film. From Alex and his “droogs” mercilessly beating the writer and raping his wife, it could just about be seen as Alex’s song of brutality and immorality and sardonic glee he radiates from his dastardly deeds. Later on when he happens upon the writer’s home once again, he sings again. This time not as a sign of his grim deeds, but for his own fortuitousness and finally good condition to be in. It’s quite the turnaround to be frank, both in songs and his own character.
But that was just diagetic music alone. Extra-diagetic music contributed more the the very atmosphere of scenes and to the film as a whole. For instance, music – mostly majestic classical style – plays in most scenes where it appears that Alex has found himself in favorable circumstances and his own plotting is coming to fruition. While dead silence purveyed when Alex was met with something he found intolerable or disapproving, such as his capture by authorities. Or the scene when Alex was in bed with two women and a much more whimsical, fast-paced, music-piece played, probably showing his carefree nature and how he treats relationships, restricting and unfun.
While the material onscreen can off-put many, the sounds and music played can really change the atmosphere and play off characters quite well if applied practically and purposefully. Which Kubrick does with resounding success.