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Watch: Philosopher Slavoj Žižek Discusses Use Of Beethoven’s Ninth In Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’

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by Charlie Schmidlin
November 27, 2013 10:41 AM
4 Comments
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Documentary filmmaker Sophie Fiennes crafted a rare beast in 2006’s “The Pervert’s Guide To Cinema," in that it took a man explaining philosophical concepts straight to camera over its duration and not only succeeded but actually spawned a sequel of sorts. Though when the man in question is the prominent pop philosopher Slavoj Žižek, you start to understand why: whether you agree with him or not, his arguments about films and their real-life impact generate a unique discussion, and now for his new effort, “The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology," he’s cast his eye in part on Stanley Kubrick.

Breathe easy; Žižek hasn’t entered “Room 237” territory with his views on Kubrick’s disturbing 1971 film “A Clockwork Orange." Rather, in a new clip from 'Ideology' (via Open Culture), he’s examined its iconic use of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in relation to the philosophy of head Droog Alex (Malcolm McDowell), and also pointed to its “universal adaptability” historically. As he says, “It can be used by political movements that are completely opposed to each other,” pointing to the Ninth’s well-known use in Nazi Germany, in China during the Cultural Revolution, and also in Russia as a Communist song.

The Ninth’s political usage results in what Žižek dubs “a perverse scene of universal fraternity”—something that Vienna in 1824 as the piece premiered was clearly fighting against. As ever, Žižek introduces a new, interesting angle on our cinematic canon, as he similarly did with “The Dark Knight”; check out the full clip below, as well as one from “A Clockwork Orange” as Alex gains some distinct pleasure from the tune.


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4 Comments

  • Luis Berini | November 28, 2013 8:10 AMReply

    (couldn't watch it till the end tough, had a bad day). But I'm sure he wouldn't like Lincoln either an (altought I watched it dubbed) is probably one of Spielberg's great films (and he has many). Despite that, all his initial diatribes are more than interesting at least.
    I remember have watched "Pervert's Guide to ideology" and I liked it. Cant wait for this.

  • Luis Berini | November 28, 2013 8:06 AMReply

    Completely disagree with you TRISTAN ELDRITCH. What fails in his reviews is his anti-conservative tendencies. He refuse to accept some things. In his review of Zero Point Thirty, he clearly dislikes the film in an offensive manner to a clever reader because he's not willing to accept that, in order to have a nice sleep, every State need vigilantes (aka CIA). And it's not me who says it. It was Winston Churchill. Dare to disagree with that guy! And of course the film is debatible, as his main characters were quite dislikable.

  • Luis Berini | November 27, 2013 1:50 PMReply

    Zizek should be the next Roger Ebert, but in The Guardian. Every review of the films he watches are worthy to a fault.
    The only thing I dont undertand about him is his dislike of Herzogs film. For me its impossible to go further in cinema than Herzog. His films are like being offered a giant cock in your eyes. His close shots are terryfiyng, only in Anderson's The Master I've seen anything like that. Its beyond mystic, it's like being told about something unspeakable and yet cognitible anyway.
    I hope being rich and time free enogh one day to read all his books, specially his last of Hegel.

  • tristan eldritch | November 27, 2013 12:07 PMReply

    Zizek is a effing bore, man. And his angle on Dark Knight wasn't new - any reasonably attentive viewer would pick up on the conservative undertow of those films, and numerous critics pointed out that it could be read as neo-con apologia.

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