Of all my favorite movie soundtracks, A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick (one of my favorite directors), is by far my favorite soundtrack of all time. There is no set of songs that I believe go better to a film than the combination of Beethoven and A Clockwork Orange. I don’t even consider myself a classical music fan, particularly, but watching this movie gets you sucked into the film by purely the music alone.
Just to give you a brief synopsis of the movie: A Clockwork Orange, written after a book by Anthony Burgess, is about a young man named Alex and his gang of “droogs” (slang for gang members) who drink drugged milk and commit vicious crimes together (rape, theft, murder) for pure pleasure. Alex is the leader of his gang and they take their crimes into an art form. Alex absolutely loves Beethoven and is power-driven by his music. One night he gets caught by the government and sentenced to a “fixing” where he is psychologically fixed to believe that his life of crime (and classical music) is wrong.
The first scene I want to talk about is after his first night of crime during the movie. Alex goes back to his room and drowns himself in Beethoven’s 9th symphony (second movement). As this energetic, elegant, enlightening classical music anthem plays, the film shows scenes that Alex imagines in his head as well as in his room to the rhythm of the song. At each beat of the music piece, a new scene of crime or destruction shows, and quite disturbing scenes I may add. It starts out with a snake licking a naked woman painted on his wall, moves from focused areas of blood wounds on a statue of Jesus Christ to a woman being hung to death, to explosions and periodically to a creepy and conspiring smile of Alex while blood drips from his lips. Ironically, Beethoven’s musical masterpiece couldn’t fit any better but at this scene. Beethoven’s 9th symphony ultimately represents the fine, great art and free will of music, and this is how Alex sees his life of crime, as a perfected art. As the explicit scenes are rhythmically shown in Alex’s head, the viewer of the movie gets an emotional connection of curiosity and wonder to what is going on in Alex’s insane criminal mind. In Everything’s An Argument, Andrea Lunsford sates, “if you strike the right emotional note, you’ll establish an important connection.”
This film contains many symbols, motifs and literary characteristics that are intended to make comments on society as a whole such as the art of freewill. In Understanding Movies, Louis Giannetii states, "music can serve as a kind of overture to suggest the mood or spirit of the film as a whole" (214). This is exactly what Beethoven’s music does for this film and in the scene; it sets the artsy mood and emotional connection to Alex’s freewill.
The next scene I want to examine is when Alex and his “droogs” are walking beside a marina. As they all walk in the scene towards the camera, Alex narrates how he is angry at his fellow gang members for trying to take too much control. As they walk forward in a very slow motion, the song “La Gazza Ladra,” by Rossini plays, a very famous classical piece. This piece goes very well with this scene because the second when Alex starts to take revenge upon his droogs by throwing them in the lake (in slow motion). The music starts to explode in intensity, as Alex’s attack gets more intense. The music adds lots of emotion of excitement. The most interesting part about this scene is right before Alex strikes the first of his droogs, his narration mentions that their was a window open nearby playing classical music and when he heard it he came to his senses to attack. The power of classical music drives Alex to evil. The soundtrack of this film and this scene is not only used to make things more dramatic and artsy but it is a major symbol of Alex’s passions of violence and classical music. The two are never separated in the film, and once he gets “fixed,” he no longer likes classical music.
Overall, the soundtrack to this film is perfectly fitting. In every scene, before he gets fixed, a great classical piece is being played and it goes together perfectly with each scene. Five Slurpees without a doubt.