Week 8 Blog Post

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.

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4 thoughts on “Week 8 Blog Post

  1. I think sound makes the film more off-putting. It is not so much a source of ironic contrast as it is an enhancement to the malicious violence of the film. It glorifies Alex’s actions. It leaves us disgusted and nauseated. The music is triumphant and glorious when Alex is doing what he does best. Why would Kubrick want this effect? It all has to do with depicting Alex’s perspective. His “mental soundtrack” has a sole purpose to distance us from the violence. The music is present to compel us to hate the narrator even more. He makes it all a game or a form of classical entertainment. Rape and violence are his favorite pastimes. The music also works in the same way innocent songs do in horror films. One that comes to mind is Tiny Tim’s song in “Insidious.” The song here is bloody creepy. I guarantee “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” was not originally written in 1929 to accompany a horror film, but when it is paired with some scary moments the terror is even greater. The same goes for the music in “A Clockwork Orange.” Alex is so twisted that he can make a song like “Singing in the Rain” into something we begin to associate with violence. And we despise him for that.

    Why did Kubrick have to ruin these songs for me!!!

  2. I believe that what makes this film so memorable and so ahead of its time is the way in which it is off-putting. Although the actions onscreen are undeniably evil acts, Kubrick’s visuals are nonetheless stunning, as is his soundtrack. When these two masterful components of his work are combined, the product is mesmerizing and sticks with the viewer. The three first scenes of the film open with an extreme closeup that zooms out to an extreme long shot, with beautiful orchestral sounds playing in the background. And those shots have stuck with me. Thus, in essence, the fact that these shots are off-putting (because of the juxtaposition of violent acts with beautiful, joyous music) makes the film memorable. Whether or not the film is seen as incomprehensibly immoral, it nevertheless leaves a lasting impression, and in no small part due to Kubrick’s shrewd use of sound.

  3. The music played such a big part of the movie, I was surprised! Usually, music for me was just taken for granted as something that should be there. When this lesson was introduced, I was thinking how much of an impact can sound make? And A Clockwork Orange showed me. It taught me! The sex scene was by far one of the most interesting, since the director used the fast paced music to speed up the scene that otherwise would have been very long, but this way the same point was made. And the different songs that had different meanings in the show. To have music as a crucial part of the movie, as the Ninth was conditioned along with the sex and violence. Singing in the rain as you said is also important as it was the reason the writer recognized Alex as the person that cause the death of his wife.

  4. I agree that the music played a large role in conveying the ironic essence of the film, as well as its undeniably darker and more sinister themes. The use of the song “Singing in the Rain” was probably one of the most disturbing parts of the film, in my opinion; I do agree with your point that it radiates a sort of euphoria that reflects Alex’s happiness in committing his crimes, but I also do believe that it was used to create a sense of discomfort, even to the extreme, and discordancy within the audience.
    The music is also essentially an extension of Alex himself – as you mentioned, the times of silence reflect his disconnect from the situation at hand or the shattering of his own hysterical reality, replaced with actual reality. In a sense, the soundtrack is like a peephole into the mechanics and emotions of Alex’s soul.

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