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I just got back from seeing Skyfall, the new James Bond film, at a 
multiplex on 84th and Broadway in New York City.  Early in the film, I 
heard a faint rumbling that I assumed was the sound of explosions bleeding 
in from the film in the theater next door.  Then I thought it was a subway 
train running very close to the surface near the theater.  But when the 
rumbling became a bit louder, I realized that is was actually coming from 
the speakers in the theater.  There was nothing at all musical about the 
rumbling.  It was deep in the bass register, and it was never rhythmic. On 
closer listening, I decided that it was meant to be an aural punctuation 
to dialogue.  I was not aware of it during the action scenes.  It only 
seemed to be part of the soundtrack when characters were talking, and it 
seemed like the “explosions” were more pronounced when someone said 
something meant to be significant. 

It may not be a useful comparison, but I kept thinking of the nonstop, 
fake-gravitas soundtracks in recent films with scores by Hans Zimmer. I’m 
thinking in particular of Inception and The Dark Knight Rises.  There 
seems to be a trend toward soundtracks that never leave well enough alone. 
 The filmmakers seem to believe that audiences will be more attentive or 
more moved when there is always something happening on the soundtrack 
besides dialogue and diegetic sound.
 
Was I having aural hallucinations, or has anyone else noticed this?

All the best,
        krin
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Krin Gabbard, Professor of Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies
Department of Cultural Analysis and Theory
Humanities 2048
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5355
(631) 632-7460

Editor in Chief, Cinema and Media Studies
Oxford Bibliographies 
www.oxfordbibliographies.com/obo/page/cinema-and-media-studies



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Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: http://www.tcf.ua.edu