Don Juan in Nadsat: Kubrick's music for A Clockwork Orange

Code, D. (2014) Don Juan in Nadsat: Kubrick's music for A Clockwork Orange. Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 139(2), pp. 339-386. (doi:10.1080/02690403.2014.944823)

Code, D. (2014) Don Juan in Nadsat: Kubrick's music for A Clockwork Orange. Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 139(2), pp. 339-386. (doi:10.1080/02690403.2014.944823)

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Abstract

The critical reception of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971) often circles around two related questions: its relationship to Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel and the implications of its classical ‘compilation’ soundtrack. Revisiting both, this article challenges the pervasive emphasis in existing musicological literature on the film's use of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony by offering a formal analysis of its excerpts by (among others) Rossini, Elgar and Purcell. A fresh look at Purcell's Funeral Music for Queen Mary (1695) serves to open a dramatic lineage leading back to the seventeenth-century ‘Don Juan’ archetype, which brings in tow the vast musicological literature on Don Giovanni along with philosophical accounts from Kierkegaard through Bernard Williams. The film's notorious references to Gene Kelly's dance routine in Singin’ in the Rain (1952) add to its confrontation with individual and collective ideals of ‘liberty’ a cinematic reflexivity that can serve (with some help from Marshall McLuhan's influential 1964 study Understanding Media) to shed new light on Luis Buñuel's assertion that this is ‘the only movie about what the modern world really means’.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Code, Dr David
Authors: Code, D.
Subjects:M Music and Books on Music > M Music
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PE English
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Journal Name:Journal of the Royal Musical Association
Journal Abbr.:JRMA
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0269-0403
ISSN (Online):1471-6933

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