17 novembro, 2010

A Clockwork Orange: The Power of Music

Por Sheron Neves, mestre em História do Cinema e TV e doutoranda em Estudos de Televisão pela Birkbeck, University of London

(Paper apresentado em Out/2003 na Birkbeck, University of London, e em Out/2009 na UNIPLI, Centro Universitário Plínio Leite, RJ)

As Stanley Kubrick remains one of the most original directors of the 20th century, it can be argued that A Clockwork Orange remains not only one of his most polemic works but also one of his most ingenious ones.
One of the main characteristics in Kubrick’s cinema is the power of music, one of the aspects in which he is most unique and inventive. The soundtrack in his films serves as more than a mere background accessory, it participates actively in the narrative, and in the case of ACO the music is practically one of the characters, adding new aspects and making comments on the images shown, and sometimes it might even tell a different story from the one being told by the narrator and main character, Alex.

In ACO the music performs a crucial role, and when added to the extreme stylization of images, we are granted a film in which music and image walk so closely together that it is practically impossible to separate one from another.

To portray all the violence presented in Anthony Burgess’ novel, both implicit and explicit, Kubrick chose refinement over obvious objectivity. Thus violence and sex are shown in a theatrical form, accompanied by a powerful musical score, and the scenes are sometimes so exaggerated that instead of violence we see a representation of violence, and instead of sex we see a representation of sex. This aspect is easily spotted in scenes like the “menage a tróis” in Alex’s bedroom (a unusual sex scene which Kubrick chooses to depict in fast motion), the rape of the young girl by Billyboy’s gang, and the fight between Alex and his “droogs” at the marina, where the use of Rossini´s La Gazza Ladra helps to add a rather farcical mood for the scene.

Although we cannot give Kubrick credit for choosing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as the main musical theme (it belongs to the author Burgess), we can praise the director’s intelligent use of it; especially the Second and the Fourth Movements, both in their original versions as well as their electronic forms arranged by Walter Carlos. Thus, the original version of the Second Movement is used in a scene where Alex is still in his “original form”, that is his violent self. He listens to it while he lies ecstatically on his bed, envisioning violent images and celebrating a “perfect evening”.

The Second Movement is used again later on, this time in its electronic form, in the scene where Alex attempts to commit suicide in the writer’s house. The symphony now sounds artificial, mechanical, inhuman. As inhuman as the writer’s face, sitting rigid with his hair all wild, in a pose which resembles Beethoven himself.

The Fourth Movement of the symphony is shown in its synthesized version when Alex is going through his rehabilitation treatment. He is given drugs and is forced to watch atrocious images, while the soundtrack associated with those images is his beloved Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Again, Carlos’s version of this song sounds robotic. The main idea here is corruption. Corruption of what is pure, of what is human, like Beethoven’s music and Alex, who up to that moment still had moral freedom. That was Kubrick’s brilliant way to illustrate how society was transforming Alex into an actual clockwork orange. The music sounds as inhuman as the doctors, who fail to attend Alex’s request to turn the music off. Alex shows he had more sensitivity to art than the civilized society that is entrusted “to cure” him.

The Fourth Movement is only used in its original form – actually for the first time- in the last scene of the film, when Alex is back to his old self, regaining control over his violent and sexual instincts. 

Another composer ingeniously used in the film is Rossini, and this time the credit goes entirely to Kubrick. La Gazza Ladra is employed in most of the violent scenes, helping to soften the otherwise shocking impressions they would cause. Thus, the rape scene on the stage of the abandoned casino would have been much more appalling if it was not complemented by the cheerful La Gazza Ladra, shifting the viewer’s attention to the choreographical aspect of the scene. The comical tone of the music might create a certain discomfort in the viewers as they are told by the music that the scene is supposed to be funny while the action shows something completely opposite. The same happens in scenes like the fight between Alex and Billyboy’s gang and the fight between Alex and his “droogs”, pictured in graceful slow motion. The music remains impartial to the violence depicted, and keeps on sounding all cheery and merry, giving the scenes a sinister touch of black humour.

Another song that deserves consideration is Singin’ in the Rain, from the 1950s musical. Alex sarcastically sings this innocent song while beating the writer and raping his wife. Again, Kubrick creates a counterpoint, a contrast between music and image, minimizing the violent aspect of the scene and producing an absurd, satirical effect.

Using stylized and exaggerated images combined with precise and sometimes contradictory sounds, Kubrick cleverly creates a surreal yet potential world. The same bizarre world created by author Anthony Burgess, who in his tale exaggerates latent societal problems to show the absurdity of them.

2 comentários:

Édnei Pedroso disse...

CO é um dos meus "top five" desde que me conheço por gente. Lembro que, desde a primeira vez que assisti (quando eu ainda era um total desconhecedor de cinema), o que mais me impressionou na obra foi justamente o bouquet musical utilizado e o joguete que foi a "cura" de Alex, livrando o personagem de seus instintos violentos (escondendo-os, né), mas privando-o do que o fazia mais "humano" (o gosto pela música), como se uma coisa não pudesse existir sem a outra. Puro espetáculo. Ótimo texto.


Sheron Neves disse...

Obrigada Ednei!(sorry meu lap nao faz acentos) Para mim tambem. Na verdade quando assisti Laranja Mecanica pela vez eu tinha 15 anos, e foi naquele momento que decidi que queria trabalhar com cinema, ou qualquer coisa que chegasse perto. Acho uma obra prima absolutamente perfeita, direcao, roteiro, trilha, acting, fotografia, figurino, cenografia. Rezo para que NUNCA decidam fazer uma refilmagem... Com certas coisas nao se brinca =)

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