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.