Film and Sound Techniques.



We so rarely are able to make a connect of a particular sound with its source. At any point of time there are infinite sounds ringing around us but we filter and hear the ones that appeal to us, without always knowing of its origin. I can never watch a movie on mute. For me in a movie the sound is equally as important as the visuals. Even in a “silent” film the use of sound is so crucial that it has to cover up for a lack of dialogue. Therefore we see that even a silent film isn’t really “silent”. So what is a film without sound?

In a room with various visuals and sounds it is always easier to pin point the visual than the sound. Too many sounds can blend and merge into one dimension. However the way sounds are used in movies for its infinite dimensions is utter brilliance. The three films that I will talk about correlating them to the use of sound in each are Troy, Mama Mia and Dil Se.

Starting with Mama Mia. Although television and film are greatly visual mediums, sound is also needed to create an extra feature to the visuals and to enhance the world on screen. What is it without its songs? Without the tireless voices of ABBA still echoing in our ears. The movie functions because of its grooving and painstakingly beautiful music. The characters each reveal themselves with the songs they sing. This musical is one of my absolute favorites. We got to know the nature of the older three girls Donna, Rosie and Tanya or the three younger ones Sophie, Lisa and Ali they all express their sentiments through music. We get to know of Tanya’s flirty nature or of Donna’s complexities and struggle between choosing her love and the father of her child after her frivolous and eventful summer all those years ago. We get to know of Sophie’s determined urge to get to know who her father really is and of her feelings towards her mother or to the man she is about to spend her life with. It is important to get to know each character personally and the songs in this movie are exactly what help with the development of each character. It’s a film that would not function without its music and sound and make it the vibrant film that it is so legendarily known to be. The use of silence and sound is done so superbly in this film it is almost brilliant. No one song is unnecessary. Each help in the progression of the movie. The sounds of the ocean and the quietness of the place they live in are also shown through those various sounds. It seems like they’re the only ones on that island, the way each voice echoes so clearly. The splash of the waves or the cry of the mother each sound is paid so much attention to.

When I think of an action and historic film like Troy firstly the thought that pops into my mind is that how can any action film even be shot without sound? What’s the bomb blasting without its sound? What’s swords clashing and blood falling without sound? What’s the sound of a Trojan horse of deceit without sound? What’s war without the sound of death ringing on our ears? In the movie Troy Based on the Grecian story of war ignited by love between Paris, Prince of Troy, and Helen, Queen of Sparta, Troy is a film which will surely raise the bar another notch.  Epic films tend to be accompanied by soundtracks that include either forgettable pop songs or an exclusively forgettable score; Wolfgang Petersen’s Greek popcorn flick Troy has both. The music that accompanies Achilles and Hector through their many trials and misfortunes is predictably similar to that of Gladiator. Incorporating Middle Eastern female vocalists into enthralling string cues and thunderous beating over endless action sequences. However in a war film its important that the use of combat and the sound of the intensity of the battle also comes across in an avid manner. If the voices overlapped at points during conversations it would become tough for the viewer to understand the context of conversation. In such films to cast actors with different and distinct voices is also extremely important because without a visual of a person it is very difficult to understand where the voice is coming from. Voice-overs may also be occurring in the film, which makes it hard to relate a voice. Each sword clashing is crucial to the film. The cries of vain during war, the bloodshed, the loss, the struggle without the sound none of these would be possible to be expressed. Gestures in this case would not be enough.

I had to include a Bollywood movie and what better than a movie that failed to captivate me except its extraordinary music, Dil Se. This is a movie where the element of sound is directly correlated to that of music. Right from the first scene in the train where the catchy song of “Chaiiya Chaiiya” leaves you murmuring its tunes, you know that this is a movie of some great music. The music really captures the mood of the movie to a large extent and is the saving grace of the romance between the actors according to me. Be it “Jiya Jale”or “Aye Ajnabi” the songs are so enthralling that you see the characters differently only because of the impact the song has on us as an audience. The beauty of the lyrics and the simplicity of the instruments and music just captivate the audience to such a large extent and for those scenes the audience fails to remove their eyes from the screen at all. The lyrics of “Aye Ajnabi” become such a core and signature component of the film that according to me without the introduction off that song the romance could be close to dead. This is another film that might have been dead without its music. The dimensions created through music and sound in this movie is unbelievable. The climax of the movie comes towards the end when the two protagonists hug and die together with the bomb blasting. We can always question as to what impact that might have made on the audience if there was no sound. The sound created a dimension and layer, which left that deafening sound banging on our eardrums.

Thus we see through these various examples how the use of sound is so significant in every genre of movies world over. How films cannot function without the music and sound. So can a film really truly be called a silent film? I think not. Our sense of sound thus seems to play an extremely large role in our understanding of films.


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