Science Fiction Film & Television

‘He will knock four times’: fate and the timey-wimey echoes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in Doctor Who

Science Fiction Film & Television (2016), 9, (2), 181–207.

Abstract

This article explores the uses of the well-known four-note motif from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in the soundtrack of a five-episode narrative arc of Doctor Who, to argue that the motif’s rich and varied reception history permits a hermeneutic reading of the ethical dimensions of the plot’s engagement with questions of power and immortality. In particular, the motif illuminates the interpretation of fundamental messages – about the immorality of seeking absolute power on an epic scale; the distinction between heroic ambition for peace and hubristic ambition for empire; and the inescapability of fate – that underpin the storyline.

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Walden, Joshua S.