A Clockwork Orange- Glad I saw it once, but that is quite enough

The film A Clockwork Orange utilizes both diegetic and extra-diegetic sound as a large way of conveying meaning in the story.

For most of the film, when there is extra-diegetic music, it is usually classical and more often than not Beethoven. Our first experience with this interesting music choice is during the almost-rape scene. First off, the women’s screams of terror along with the classical music backdrop creates a strong juxtaposition. On one hand, you have this barbaric and graphic act that’s about to take place. On the other, you have music that is cultured and deemed as high-society. This is a trend that continues throughout the film, such as when Alex launches a surprise attack on Georgie and Dim.

Classical music is most famously used as an indicator of when Alex is feeling in control of a situation, or when he is in his groove. The moment something happens that throws off his “plan” the music stops and we are brought into the real world of consequences along with him. A scene that masterfully melds the extra-diegetic and diegetic is the hectic sex scene where the entire experience is fast-forwarded. The music makes the scene seem more comic than romantic, and the speeding up of the scene adds to the idea that its “all part of the plan.”

Music is also used as a foreshadowing mechanism. When the minister is walking through the prison, Pomp and Circumstance is playing. This is a notorious graduation song, and I immediately assumed that Alex would be freed from the prison, or “graduate” from his current situation.


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.

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange is an excellent choice for a discussion on the usage of music in films. Given that the premise of the film revolves around the affect of music on an individual, it is rather appropriate.

As everyone has probably mentioned, extra diegetic music plays in the background whenever Alex believes he’s in control. For instance, when he successfully enrolls in the Ludovico programme, “Pomp and Circumstance” plays. Other classical music plays consistently in the background, as during the scene when Alex beats down and intimidates his crew.

The interesting part of the main theme (written by Walter Carlos, pioneer of the Moog Synthesizer) is that it incorporates the “Dies Irae” theme of the Catholic church, which is not only a chant for the dead, but also indicative of dread.

Beethoven is a common theme of the film, most obvious in the “Ode To Joy”, which is instrumental in Alex’s rehabilitation. The 9th, first associated to Alex with absolute joy and ultraviolence, is “subverted” in his mind, gradually shifting his association with violence to that of a sickening distaste. Beethoven’s Fifth also makes a small cameo, in the nameless writer’s doorbell tone, also indicative of anger, revenge, and dread.

I am slightly disappointed that Kubrick left out the 21st chapter of the book, which entirely changes the perspective of the novel, transforming it from a cyclical, nihilistic story, to one of maturation.

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.

Week 8 Post

A Clockwork Orange, as far as sound goes, uses contrast in events and situations with a lot of connection to music. The movie emphasizes sound effects for the added “feeling”. This movie blows my mind and it is hard to process still after the few hours that have past, with some special scenes in mind I will no longer fluff the introduction.

It can’t be helped. I am going to talk about the sex scene. The scene went with the music completely. Alex invites two girls over and then it just cuts to the bed. The music starts and it is as if we are waiting for the music to get faster as we have a long hold on the bed. The suddenly, the music gets very quick and the three characters pop in and do the “old in and out” in a fast forward motion that parallels the music perfectly.

Throughout the movie, there is a contrasting of very excited music with very disturbing scenes. Usually it is the 9th by Ludwig Van Beethoven. The happy feel makes it very creepy with there is a scene with men trying to rape a girl, or contemplating doing things that would go against society, or being paired with a concentration camp. There is also Singing in the Rain that is very insane, since Alex is singing the song so happily while raping a woman and assaulting the writer from the story. Both were used for cues, as Singing in the Rain made the writer realize later on that Alex was in fact Alex. The 9th was used in association with the conditioning that he was going through so it cued bad events and his nausea and sickness.

Sound once again was huge in this movie, it would hardly be possible to watch this movie without sound. The sound effects were very crisp in this movie also. If it isn’t music, then it is the sound of footsteps or the door slamming, or the crinkling of paper. I can hardly imagine the things that will come up once discussion hits tomorrow.

Week 8 Blog Post

Classical music is used excessively in this film, as both diegetic and extra diegetic music. In the beginning of the movie, the volume of the music was louder when Alex and his gang were committing the violent crimes. The loud music heightens the suspense of the scene and evokes a greater emotional response with the audience. The classical music, especially Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, was diegetic when it was being played in the house and Alex was locked up in the room upstairs. It was extra diegetic when it was being played on the loud speakers in the hospital. At that point, all we could hear was that music and nothing else as the camera made a close-up to Alex’s agonized face. The 9th symphony was a way of controlling Alex. At first it was one of his favorite songs, and he listened to it to calm himself and relax. But after the treatment it becomes a cruel torture device.

Another aspect of sound that stood out to me in the movie was how the dialogue and music intertwined tremendously. Because Alex is the narrator of the whole movie, the music had to coincide with what he was saying and the actions that were happening on screen. I noticed that even when he was talking, the classical music in the background would still be playing as loud as it was before he was speaking. The classical music complements what Alex is saying, especially during the crimes he was narrating.

The music plays with our emotions and thoughts in a way that contradicts what is actually happening. For example, in the scenes where Alex is forced to watch the disturbing videos as part of the experimental treatment, there is upbeat, joyous classical music playing in the background. This distorts our expectations of what music we would expect to be played in a scene like this.

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.

What does this have to do with a clockwork or the color orange?

The sound in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange was awe-inspiring. There were many musical motifs used throughout the movie—the most memorable to me being Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and the song “Singing in the Rain.”

I want to talk more about “Singing in the Rain” because I feel as though there is a deeper meaning behind that song choice than is first apparent in the movie. “Singing in the Rain” (in my opinion) is a song about trials and tribulations, hard times, and adversity. Rain is a metaphor for hardship, and when Alex sings this song, he is figuratively saying that he is facing hardship head-on with a smile on his face. My favourite part of the song is not included in the film, but it goes as follows, “Come on with the rain, I’ve a smile on my face.” It is clear to see that the rain is an unwanted factor in the singer’s life, and he is boldly conquering it with a smile on his face.

So how does this relate to A Clockwork Orange? Alex’s home life and upbringing are mentioned very little in the film, but it is clear to see that Alex is a sociopath (disregards others’ rights, poor moral sense, aggressive behaviour) and thus is very troubled in his mind. Society and his parents wants him to be one way, but he is naturally inclined to act out and be violent. “Singing in the Rain” seems to be the perfect song for Alex to sing because he is facing society head-on with a smile on his face by doing what he wants to do (rape, be violent, steal, vandalize) with no regard to society’s desires, laws, or opinions of his actions. It’s amazing how the author or director—whoever chose this song—took such a happy little song and turned it into something so dark and disturbing. It was a really powerful and creative thing to do.

The song occurs a second time in the movie—near the end when Alex returns to the writer’s house. This time the adversity he sings of could be many things: society’s desire to hate him for everything he has done, his desire to kill himself, the horrible lasting effects of his “cure,” etc. The fact that Alex is singing this song gives the viewers hope that he will persevere to the very end.

I think if one analyzes the song in this way, one can begin to sympathize with Alex and view him as likeable and relatable rather than despicable, which is very disturbing considering Alex’s actions.

Oh, Stanley, you are a messing with my mind.

Week 8: A Clockwork Orange

Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange was certainly a cinematic experience that leaves its audience with an array of thought and emotion. In terms of sound, I found the movie to be quite revolutionary, as I had never before seen a movie in which sound played a more integral role. The use of extra diegetic classical music throughout some of the most intense scenes is what truly stuck with me. I believe that Kubrick uses music in order to differentiate between two realities: the reality that is society and Alex’s own reality in which his authority is all that matters.

In the beginning of the film, the classical music (mostly Beethoven’s 9th Symphony) is used when Alex and his gang are up to no good and wreaking havoc. On the other hand, when film lacks music, the audience sees Alex up against society’s reality and rules. For example, there is no music when Alex fist meets Mr. Deltoid or throughout his whole time in prison.

After the treatment, however, Alex can no longer listen to Beethoven’s 9th. This can be interpreted to mean that he is in a way struggling between the two realities. Once he is released, Alex soon comes to understand that his old reality is no more; he has lost his family, friends/gang and, most importantly to him, his autonomy.

This constant struggle for Alex ultimately comes to an end once he jumps out of the window. The scenes at the hospital make the audience believe that he is slowly returning to his own reality. This can be seen by his answers to the psychiatric test; they show glimpses of violence in them. The hospital scene lacks music to the very end making the audience believe that he is in fact better. However, once the government official visits him, the classical music starts again and Alex returns to old thought process. Ultimately, as he states it, he is finally “cured” and has returned to what he considers his normal self.

I also noticed how the film might have been a cornerstone and inspiration for sound in many future films, especially psychological thrillers. For example, the use of friendly music in serious acts of violence can also be seen in American Psycho. Ultimately, A Clockwork Orange is truly a film that requires thought after you’ve seen it. Nevertheless, it is a great film with revolutionary methods in regards to sound.

Week 8 Blog Assignment

Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is a display of both disturbing and outstanding filmmaking. Though so many things go into making a movie, such as acting, mise-en-scene and editing, sound is something that we often take for granted. Instead of just setting actions to music, Kubrick brings the sounds to life by integrating them into the plot. Using diegetic and extra diegetic sounds, he seamlessly guides us through a movie watching experience that would otherwise be tough to swallow.
As shown in the first half hour or so, each of Alex’s violent acts is set to music, specifically classical or simply upbeat, and the music is sometimes diegetic, sometimes extra diegetic; this serves several purposes. First, it shows that Alex and his friends consider what they do to be a cultured activity, and it is something that they obviously enjoy. Also, especially when the music is extra diegetic and is therefore only heard by the audience, its purpose is to disorient us as viewers. Though we are watching someone get beaten or raped, we hear pleasant sounds that usually accompany pleasant or calming visuals. It confuses our sense of how to feel about a scene because it sort of numbs the shock of seeing such violence. Finally, it connects the scenes to one another and it allows us to anticipate (which ultimately builds suspense) when another crime is going to happen.
The final scene, in which Beethoven’s 9th is played on large, loud speakers in the hospital room and Alex simply smiles, is a perfect example of how Kubrick allows sound to become part of the plot rather than simply compliment it. A few minutes prior, we watched as Alex thrashed around, covered his ears and ultimately jumped out a window at the sound of the symphony; we knew then that he was still cured. Once the music is played in the hospital room and Alex doesn’t react the same way as before, we recognize that he is now un-cured and that he is back to his evil old self. Although his demeanor is slightly different in the hospital scenes leading up to the final one (i.e, the psychiatrist’s test, the conversation with the Minister) and we can sort of tell that he’s reverted back to his original form, the lack of response to the 9th Symphony solidifies our knowledge that Alex is no longer sickened by violence.