Voice-overs in A Clockwork Orange

Burgess' A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange: Relation of Film to Text
SK's A Clockwork Orange: Narrative Structure
A Clockwork Orange: Filmic Transformation
A Clockwork Orange:Transcript

Kubrick adds a dimension of the novel's First-person narration by the use of thirty-one carefully selected passages, which he presents as Alex's Voice-overs. He adds two new Voice-overs (# 9 and #25).

For a general discussion of Voice-over see: Reflections on the Art of Voice-over.

Three functions of the Voice-overs

The reason that the Voice-overs are so effective in the film is due to Kubrick's creativity in:

What Kubrick omits

By studying the 31 passages that Kubrick chose for his Voice-overs, one also notices what he omitted. Kubrick chose not to create Voice-overs out of Alex's important moments of self-reflection about the theme of the novel: the freedom of choice. He omits the novel's central thematic statement: I do what I do because I like to do. He also ignores important reflective moments concerning Music and violence and the meaning of A Clockwork Orange. These omissions are important indications, along with dropping the last chapter of the novel, that Kubrick was not primarily concerned with telling Burgess' story about the importance of freedom of choice. His actions speak louder than....

  • ALEX (V.O. #1: p.1)
    There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie and Dim and we sat in the Korova milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening. The Korova Milk Bar sold milkplus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultra-violence. Our pockets were full of money so there was no need on that score, but, as they say, money isn't everything.

  • ALEX (V.O. #2: p. 13)
    One thing I could never stand is to see a filthy, dirty old drunkie, howling away at the filthy songs of his fathers and going blerp, blerp in between as it might be a filthy old orchestra in his stinking rotten guts. I could never stand to see anyone like that, whatever his age might be, but more especially when he was real old like this one was.

  • ALEX (V.O. #3: p. 13-14)
    It was around by the derelict casino that we came across Billyboy and his four droogs. They were getting ready to perform a little of the old in-out, in-out on a weepy young devotchka they had there.

  • ALEX (V.O. #4: p.19)
    The Durango-95 purred away real horrorshow a nice, warm vibraty feeling all through your guttiwuts. Soon it was trees and dark, my brothers, with real country dark.

  • ALEX (V.O. #5: p.19)
    We fillied around for a while with other travelers of the night, playing hogs of the road. Then we headed west, what we were after now was the old surprise visit, that was a real kick and good for laughs and lashing of the ultra-violent.

  • ALEX (V.O. #6: p.26)
    We were all feeling a bit shagged and fagged and fashed, it having been an evening of some small energy expenditure, O my brothers, so we got rid of the auto and stopped off at the Korova for a nightcap.

  • ALEX (V.O. #7: p.27)
    There was some sophistos from the TV studios around the corner, laughing an govoreeting. The Devotchka was smecking away, and not caring about the wicked world one bit. Then the disc on the stereo twanged off and out, and in the short silence before the next one came on, she suddenly came with a burst of singing, and it was like for a moment, O my brothers, some great bird had flown into the milkbar and I felt all the malenky little hairs on my plott standing endwise, and the shivers crawling up like slow malenky lizards and then down again. Because I knew what she sang. It was a bit from the glorious 9th, by Ludwig van.
  • ALEX (V.O. #8 p. 31)
    Where I lived was with my dadda and mum in Municipal Flatblock 18A linear north.

  • ALEX (V.O. #9: p. 31)
    It had been a wonderful evening and what I needed now to give it the perfect ending was a bit of the old Ludwig van.
    [Kubrick addition]

  • ALEX (V.O. #10: p. 32)
    O bliss, bliss and heaven, oh it was gorgeousness and georgeosity made flesh. It was like a bird of rarest spun heaven metal or like silvery wine flowing in a space ship, gravity all nonsense now. As I slooshied, I knew such lovely pictures.

  • ALEX (V.O. #11: p.52-3)
    As we walked along the flatblock marina, I was calm on the outside but thinking all the time, so now it was to be Georgie the General, saying what we should do and what not to do, and Dim as his mindless, grinning bulldog. But, suddenly, I viddied that thinking was for the gloopy ones and that the oomny ones use like inspiration and what Bog sends, for now it was lovely music that came to my aid and I viddied at once what to do. There was a window open with the stereo on.

  • ALEX (V.O. #12: p. 55)
    I had not put into any of Dim's main cables and so, with the help of a clean tashtook, the red, red kroovy stopped, and it did not take long to quieten the two wounded soldiers, down in the snug in the Duke of New York. Now they knew who was Master and Leader. Sheep, thought I, but a real leader knows always when like to give and show generous to his unders.

  • ALEX (V.O. #13: p. 75)
    This is the real weepy and like tragic part of the story beginning, O my brothers and only friends. After a trial with judges and a jury, and some very hard words spoken against your friend and humble narrator, he was sentenced to 14 years in Staja No. 84F among smelly perverts and hardened prestoopnicks, the shock sending my dadda beating his bruised and kroovy rookas against unfair Bog in his Heaven, and my mom, boohoohooing in her mother's grief as her only child and son of her bosom, like letting everybody down real horrorshow.

  • ALEX (V.O. #14: p.76)
    It had not been edifying, indeed not, being in this hell hole and human zoo for two years now, being kicked and tolchocked by brutal warders, and meeting leering criminals and perverts ready to dribble all over a lucious young malchick like your story-teller.

  • ALEX (V.O. #15: p. 77)
    It was my rabbit to help the prison charlie with the Sunday service. He was a bolshy great burly bastard, but he was very fond of myself, me being very young, and also now very interested in the big book.

  • ALEX (V.O. #16: p. 79)
    I read all about the scourging and the crowning with thorns and all that, and I could viddy myself helping in and even taking charge of the tolchocking and the nailing in, being dressed in the height of Roman fashion.

  • ALEX (V.O. #17: p. 79)
    I didn't so much like the latter part of the book which is more like all preachy talking, than fighting and the old in-out. I liked the parts where these old yahoodies tolchock each other and then drink their Hebrew vino and, then getting on to the bed with their wives' handmaidens. That kept me going.

  • ALEX (V.O. #18: p.96)
    The next morning I was taken to the Ludovico Medical Facility, outside the town centre, and I felt a malenky bit sad having to say goodbye to the old Staja, as you always will when you leave a place you've like gotten used to.

  • ALEX (V.O. #19 p. 100)
    And viddy films I would. Where I was taken to, brothers, was like no cine I'd been in before. I was bound up in a straight-jacket and my gulliver was strapped to a headrest with like wires running away from it. Then they clamped like lidlocks on my eyes so I could not shut them no matter how hard I tried. It seemed a bit crazy to me, but I let them get on with what they wanted to get on with. If I was to be a free young malchick in a fortnight's time, I would put up with much in the meantime, my brothers.

  • ALEX (V.O. #20: p. 102-3)
    So far the first film was a very good professional piece of cine, looked like it was done in Hollywood. The sounds were real horroshow. You could slooshy the screams and moans very realistic and you could even get the heavy breathing and panting of the tolchocking malchicks at the same time. And then, what do you know, soon our dear old friend, the red, red vino on tap. The same in all places like it's put out by the same big firm, began to flow. It was beautiful. It's funny how the colours of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on a screen. Now all the time I was watching this, I was beginning to get very aware of like not feeling all that well, but I tried to forget this, concentrating on the next film, which jumped right away on a young devotchka, who was being given the old in-out, in-out, first by one malchick, then another, then another. This seemed real, very real, though if you thought about it properly you couldn't imagine lewdies actually agreeing to having all this done to them in a film, and if these films were made by the good, or the State, you couldn't imagine them being allowed to take these films, without like interfering with what was going on.
    When it came to the sixth or seventh malchick, leering and smecking and then going into it, I began to feel really sick. But I could not shut my glazzies and even if I tried to move my glazballs about I still not get out of the line of fire of this picture.

  • ALEX (V.O. #21: p. 112-13)
    It was the next day, brothers, and I had truly done my best, morning and afternoon, to play it their way and sit like a horrorshow co-operative malchick in the chair of torture, while they flashed nasty bits of ultra-violence on the screen.; though not on the soundtrack, my brothers. The only sound being music. Then I noticed in all my pain and sickness what music it was that like cracked and boomed. It was Ludwig van  9th symphony, 4th movement.

  • ALEX (V.O. #22: p. 125)
    And, O my brothers, would you believe your faithful friend and long suffering narrator pushed out his red yahzik a mile and a half to lick the grahzny, vonny boots. The horrible killing sickness had wooshed up and turned the like joy of battle into a feeling I was going to snuff it.

  • ALEX (V.O. #23: p.128)
    She came towards me with the light like it was the like light of heavenly grace, and the first thing that flashed into my gulliver was that I would like to have her right down there on the floor with the old in-out, real savage.

  • ALEX (V.O. #24: p.128)
    But quick as a shot came the sickness, like a detective that had been watching around the corner and now followed to make his arrest.

  • ALEX (V.O. #25)
    And the very next day, your friend and humble narrator was a free man. [Kubrick addition]

  • ALEX (V.O. #26: p.144)
    Then there was like a sea of dirty, smelly old men trying to get at your humble Narrator, with their feeble rookers and horny old claws. It was Old Age having a go at Youth and I daren't do a single solitary thing, O my brothers, it being better to be hit at like that, than want to be sick and feel that horrible pain.

  • ALEX (V.O. #27: p.151-2)
    Where was I to go, who had no home and no money. I cried for meself, Home, Home, Home. It was Home I was wanting and it was Home I came to, brothers, not realising in the state I was in, where I was and had been before.

  • ALEX (V.O. #28: p.153)
    And would you believe it, O my brothers and only friends, there was your faithful Narrator being held helpless, like a babe in arms, and suddenly realising where I was and why HOME on the gate had looked so familiar. But I knew I was safe. I knew he would not remember me for, in those carefree days, I and my so-called droogs wore our maskies which were like real horrorshow disguises.

  • ALEX (V.O. #29 p.166)
    I woke up. The pain and sickness all over me like an animal. Then I realised what it was. The music coming up from the floor was our old friend, Ludwig van and the dreaded 9th Symphony.

  • ALEX (V.O. #30: p. 167-68)
    Suddenly I viddied what I had to do, and what I had wanted to do and that was to do myself in, to snuff it, to blast off forever out of this wicked cruel world. One moment of pain perhaps and then sleep  forever and ever and ever.
  • ALEX (V.O. #31: p. 169)
    I jumped, O my brothers, and I fell hard but I did not snuff it, oh no. if I had snuffed it, I would not be here to tell what I have told. I came back to life, after a long, black, black gap of what might have been a million years.

  • ALEX (V.O. #32: p. 176)
    So I waited and, O my brothers, I got a lot better munching away at eggiwegs, and lomticks of toast and lovely steakiweaks and then, one day, they said I was going to have a very special visitor.

  • ALEX (V.O. #33: p. 179)
    I was cured all right.