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Sound in A Clockwork Orange - Essay Example

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Sound is an element of film technique which is often overlooked within what is basically seen as a visual art form. But sound is an integral part of film in general, and within A Clockwork Orange it is particularly important. Kubrick uses sound to act as an ironic commentary upon the nightmarish future that he envisions within this adaptation of Anthony Burgess's novel…
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Sound in A Clockwork Orange
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Download file to see previous pages This method will illustrate how Kubrick's use of sound builds upon itself in a cumulative manner.
The first scene of A Clockwork Orange starts with a move through blank screens painted with the primary colours (red and blue) with the sound of a synthesizer playing Bach. This initial juxtaposition between the most modern of instruments and Baroque music effectively alienates the audience by presenting two things that they are familiar with together. The two jar with one another and yet, as the first shot focuses in close-up on Alex's face, they seem paradoxically suited for one another. The music reflects the violent smirk that is on Alex's face as he stares straight at the camera, and thus the audience, as his opening voice-over is heard. There are thus two elements to the sound at this point: the synthesized Bach music and Alex's introduction to his world. The language that Alex uses includes words that do not ordinarily exist in English, but which will be effectively translated by the audience because of their context.
Thus Alex states that he and his "droogs" are "making up our razoodocks" what to do that night. Droog obviously means "friend" and razoodock is probably "mind". The juxtaposition is increased by the fact that they are drinking milk in a decidedly odd milk-bar that sells some rather suspicious-sounding milk. The shot draws back from a close-up to a medium shot to a long shot of the whole bar, with the nude female mannequins that act as chairs. The film that started with music has now introduced the audience to a strange, surreal, threatening world: and it was the first blast of synthesized Bach that led the audience to the door.
In the next scene a close-up of a hand holding a whisky bottle with another empty bottle besides it is essentially serenaded by a drunken voice singing an old Irish song. It is as if the bottle were singing, but as the shot steadily draws out the drunk is revealed. Alex and his droogs come into the scene as shadows and it is there footsteps that are heard, casual and yet ominous, just as Alex starts to tell the audience how he could not stand drunks and drunken singing. The echoing sound of the singing and the footsteps make once again for a surreal world, one that reflects the stark lighting that makes their shadows enormously long.
Echoing, rather distorted voices continue on the soundtrack as Alex and the old man argue with one another and then the Droogs start to beat him up. Here Kubrick introduces the idea that violence can be seen and heard as a dance. Thus the rhymic beating of the various weapons against the man's body sound like perverted musical instruments to which their howls of joy at indulging in violence are an accompaniment. Just before the jump cut to the theatre scene the waltz music that accompanies this is introduced. This time it is a girl's screams that acts in unison with the music: violence and beautiful melodies again juxtaposed. It takes a full ten seconds for Kubrick to actually reveal in a visual manner what is happening in the scene: essentially this is secondary to the two sounds put against one another.
The fact that the attempted rape of the girl is shot in a distancing long-shot adds to the importance of the sound. The sound ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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