Analysis of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange Essay

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Analysis of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange

Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film production of the Anthony Burgess novel, A Clockwork Orange, is a truly unforgettable film.  It is narrated by one of the most vicious characters ever put on screen, Alex DeLarge.  The promotional poster for the film advertised it as "The adventures of a young man whose principle interests are rape, ultra-violence, and Beethoven" (Dirks 1).  Needless to say, music plays a very important role in A Clockwork Orange.  The expressive use of music in this film gives the viewer a look into the psyche of the vicious Alex, a psyche that equates violence with art.  By doing so, the film shows us the complexity and duality of the human mind through a character who loves both the most refined art and the most brutal violence.

One way that the film's music expresses Alex's twisted view of the world and of himself is by stylizing violent scenes, making them seem like a ballet.  Alex, who loves Beethoven, gets a sort of inspiration to commit violent acts from classical music.  A prime example of this is the scene in which Alex and his "droogs" are walking in slow motion along the flatblock marina outside Alex's home.  While Rossini's "The Thieving Magpie" plays, Alex says, "For now it was lovely music that came to my aid."  The music inspires Alex to take action, and he knocks both Georgie and Dim into the water of the marina.  All the while, the violent actions are filmed in slow motion--an aspect of the film which, along with the sounds of Rossini, gives the impression of a ballet-like performance.  The action taking place in this scene seems as if it is synchronized with the music, like a finely choreographed dance.  As the music builds to a climax, the scene's ...

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...orce the contradiction of Alex's character.  In turn the film becomes disturbing, yet somewhat comical.  The viewer is drawn to love Alex for his wit and humor and to hate him for his brutality.  By doing this, A Clockwork Orange shows us that we are all contradictions of ourselves to some degree, and that the complex human psyche can love high art and brutal violence at the same time.


Works Cited

A Clockwork Orange. Dir. Stanley Kubrick. Warner Bros. 1971.

Dirks, Tim. "A Clockwork Orange." 12 April 2001. 19pp. ( html).

Kagan, Norman. The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick. New York: Holt, Rinehart and  Winston, 1972.

LoBrutto, Vincent. "The Old Ultra-Violence." American Cinematographer. 80.10  (1999): 52-6+.

Sobchack, Vivian. "Décor as Theme: A Clockwork Orange." Literature/Film Quarterly  9.2 (1981): 92-102.

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