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February 1995, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 27 Feb 1995 13:15:45 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Bill Tuschall writes:
"To the point, I have to strongly disagree with both of the
above authors. I feel sound is as much an artistic part of
a film as much as any other. Whether or not the filmmaker
tries to create a sense of realism, or uses the sound to
create something else, it is such an integral part.
For example, there is nothing like the complete sound of a
thunderstorm in surround sound, or THX. Or the sound of
bullets flying over one's head in the theater(or, in my
case, in my livingroom also). The music score usually fills
the theater as well, as differentiated by the dialog coming
only from the screen."
I agree that sound is an integral part of the film--and note that major
scholarship on film sound (even music!) has only really begun to develop in
the last ten years or so, but still my perhaps-too-linear mind objects
when sound effects (including thunderstorms, jet planes, etc) sound all
around me but the image is clearly in front of me.  (Again, I'd make an
exception for BIG-screen contexts.)  Non-diegetic music is a somewhat
different case, I think, since the sound does not emerge from the screen's
film "reality."  (On the other hand, the bullets flying overhead strike me
as a cheap gimmick, like the way 3-D was exploited in most films.)
Now, there may be potential for a *non-realistic* exploitation of these
sound effects, but if so they must be rare.
Maybe this is just a question of generational context.  For a while, when
I first really began absorbing films, I thought--a la Arnheim--that less
is more and that additions (including color and the like) needed their own
aesthetic context.  Perhaps my thoughts on sound echo the debate over
the aesthetics of wide-screen film.  The advent of multi-media computer
images (even when used in relatively simple ways like the game MYST) may
cause me to rethink my objections, but I have to work them through.
--Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN