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GIOVANNI MARRONE

The Ludovico Cure. On Body and Music in "A Clockwork Orange"

  • Authors: Marrone, G.
  • Publication year: 2009
  • Type: Monografia
  • Key words: semiotica, medicina, filosofia del linguaggio, kubrick, cinema

Abstract

A Clockwork Orange is a novel by Anthony Burgess (1961) and a movie by Stanley Kubrick (1972). Starting from these two famous works, a series of different texts have been produced: a record by Walter Carlos was drawn from the soundtrack; a theatre version and another novel by Burgess; a rich and intense critical debate on newspapers, reviews, articles and volumes; the film itself has become a cult that the web has thoroughly amplified. This debate was not concerned only with aesthetic issues regarding the value of the two works. It has involved ethic and communicative issues, as well as social and juridical ones concerning the bad influence the two works could have on the public due to the violence represented. The book examines this textual material concentrating on the transition from the page to the screen, and using a precise line of analysis: that of music, which is shown in the narration of A Clockwork Orange as a fundamental thematic element, and is also in the soundtrack of the film. The hypothesis is that there are an association between the way music operates on the protagonist (changing his actions, his passions, but above all his body and his ideas) and the way in which it operates on the spectator of the film. This should partially account for the process of identification of the spectator with the protagonist, and the consequent violent actions, that according to some newspapers, gangs of youths have committed after seeing the film. This micro-textual and global analysis -- which is exposed through a simple and clear language, without the technical obscure terminology of semiotic meta-language, that normally draws the non expert reader away -- isn’t an end in itself. It is part of a wider research project in semiotics and socio-semiotics, concerning the so called “symbolic effectiveness”: in other words, those phenomena of direct influence, that communicative processes have on the body and affects of their users. A Clockwork Orange is an exemplary case that illustrates some mechanisms of this phenomenon, by using textual analysis as a specific method to discuss issues and problems that other subjects (anthropology, ethno psychiatry, sociology and medicine) face in different terms and with results which can only partly be translated and generalized. The novel by Anthony Burgess and Kubrick’s film version of the book have become the battle ground where the theoretical clash between two different images of the body takes place: the anatomic look of the doctor tries to force his designs on the entrails of a social body, that reacts poetically and is able to establish itself by restlessly overturning the interiority and exteriority, the flesh and the world.

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