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Dear Kristine -- Two films come to mind immediately.  ON THE WATERFRONT in the
scene where Terry tells Evie he was responsible for Joey's death is drowned out
by the blasts of ship's whistles.  In THE GRADUATE, when Elaine and Benjamin
rescue their miserable date and to the drive-in, they close the car windows
to get away from the music, but the spectator is closed out as well, and that
crucial conversation (in which, we presume they fall in love) is completely
unavailable to us.  Actually that film is filled with such moments (when
Benjamin is in the wet suit, when the Robinson's are cussing him out at
 Elaine'swedding.) Ya know, it's that "sounds of silence" kind of thing!  In
 most of
Robert Altman's films, his trademark overlapping sound (usually 14 tracks of
dialogue) often prevents the spectator from focussing on any one in particular,
and it is only with repeated viewings that one can understand the various
conversations.  I'm not sure if the latter is what you had in mind, however.
I'm also wondering if you are interesting in films where the central character
goes nuts or something and in our identification with her, we can't hear
certain bits of dialogue.  Sounds like a great topic.  Nina
 
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