Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 A Clockwork Orange uses Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in an interestingly ironic way. Kubrick sets the plot in a futuristic world where sex and violence run rampant. When protagonist Alex finds himself in prison following accusations of rape and murder, he decides to go through an experimental program in which he will become programmed to feel sick each time the temptation to harm someone arises. Part of the experimental program involves watching a serious of videos, one including Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 as the soundtrack.
Alex learns to associate Beethoven’s choral symphony with the nausea he feels when exposed to sex and violence and thus, becomes sick each time he hears the work. The choral finale of Beethoven’s famous composition is based on the idea of universal brotherhood. Is it not ironic then, that Kubrick uses this piece in connection with the disturbance of mankind in A Clockwork Orange?