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What does this quote mean:

Oh, beauty is a beguiling call to death and I'm addicted to the sweet pitch of its siren."

The quote is attributed to Johnny Quid in the movie RocknRolla.

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The "sweet pitch of the siren", refers to Greek mythology where shipwrecks were attributed by the enchanting song of the sirens who would attract them to the dangerously rocky shores.

The sirens were mythical female "water nymphs" that were variously described as mermaid-like or winged. They lived on dangerous rocky outcrops and their song was considered irresistable to sailors. As such their song was said to lead the sailors to their death, by bringing the ships too close to these dangerous shores.

So the quotation you've written is simply a reference to this ancient Greek mythology, that is still often referred to in popular culture. A few that spring to mind below:

If you saw the Coen Brothers movie 'Oh brother, where art thou?', based on Homer's 'Odyssey', there was a moment in the movie where George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson are drawn to the river by the song of three mysterious sirens:

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  • Welcome to EL&U. +1 for the reference to Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (one of my favorites) :) Feb 9 '14 at 14:12
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    I think the Sirens also devoured the sailors who swam ashore, lured by their call. Hence the phrase 'call to death' leads naturally to the thought of Sirens. There could be a possible pun on 'pitch' - pitch= quality of sound, and pitch=attempt to persuade?
    – slam
    Feb 9 '14 at 14:23
  • Great answer and comment. I think it is also reasonable to believe the writer is playing with a double meaning of "siren". As they say "the siren" and not "the siren's song", it is plausible that they are comparing the "call" of beauty to an actual warning signal (of an ambulance or similar), while also drawing on the myth of the beautiful but dangerous sirens.
    – nxx
    Feb 9 '14 at 14:27