Re: best use of sound in cinema (was: default silence versus intended silence)

From: Peiman Khosravi (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Oct 30 2009 - 05:16:26 PDT

I am really enjoying this thread.

On a slightly unrelated subject. Can anyone remember the forest scene
(when she gets murdered) towards the end of Chabrol's Les bonnes
femmes? I cannot find it on youtube, but there is a very beautiful use
of sound (although the scene is actually very very quite) and the
whole film would be spoiled without it I think: they are walking in
the forest which is unusually quite in terms of wildlife (or at least
that's my memory of it). At some point we begin hear a strange
sounding distant bird uttering short cries. The sound is very faint so
it almost goes without notice. However it gets you thinking: what kind
of a bird is that? In the next shot it becomes clear: he is strangling
her and it is her muffled cry that we heard and now see/hear.

On this note I welcome your ideas about the best film moments were
sound was used, and I shall go and watch them all as an educative study.

Many Thanks,


On 30 Oct 2009, at 00:17, David Woods wrote:

> I've held-off the one thing I felt like adding to this strand. It
> seemed of little consequence, or too personal.
> But it has kept coming back, demanding to escape, seemingly at last,
> into a possible new set of incarnations.
> Then, reading the story of the Danish mental hospital dredging-up
> material which reifies the original lost form of a masterpiece, with
> its own perhaps obvious metaphorical readings, I again felt my story
> was too slight to submit.
> But, with little reticence, I submitted to the story's urge and
> submit it now.
> It's 1960. Yes, it's 50 years ago. I'm in my first year of
> statistical ecology research, working on sand dunes on Anglesey in
> North Wales. My wife had fairly recently "run-off" with a friend,
> a Scottish bryologist. He loved moss. I am living in a cottage
> high above the Menai Straits, the untrustworthy stretch of sea which
> separates the Island of Mon from the North Welsh mainland. On a
> clear day one could see Paris Mountain near Holyhead, some 40 miles
> to the west. Further west, Ireland was too far away to be seen,
> and the start of the "troubles" was a decade away.
> An Irish salt marsh ecologist had come to share my cottage and he
> had told me about MISE ÉIRE (I am Ireland) and SAOIRSE?
> (Freedom?). He wondered if I might rent them in the upcoming
> programme of the Film Society which I ran. I was already rather
> divided between science and film, but this was 1960 and there were
> no film schools in the UK and British film was hardly what I wanted
> to engage with despite the recent flowering of somewhat interesting
> titles. The film union denied access to anyone not related to
> existing members .. a truly closed shop.
> My film society was highly popular, drawing regular audiences of 250
> and more, filling the "New Physics Lecture Theatre". The Society
> owned two Bell and Howell 8604's (or something like that) with a
> change-over mechanism. We paid the Botany technicians who
> supplemented their modest salaries with projection duties. There
> was ONE television on the campus, in a rather drab student lounge
> frequented by a rag-tag bunch of lay-abouts. 1960 was the year BBC
> broke with tradition and allowed a feature film to be shown on its
> channel. It was a Bergman. Halls of residence were gender
> segregated.
> "My" film society ran a film for one evening each week. I
> programmed the films, most programmes with at least one short. I
> picked-up the prints at the (train station), designed and had the
> posters printed, stuck-up the posters all over the campus, and, most
> importantly (I felt) gave each film a short introduction This I
> enjoyed doing. From it I learned something about managing an
> audience which fed into my subsequent lecturing style for
> decades...for better or for worse.
> I knew little or nothing of Irish history, had little or no
> understanding of British Imperialism. I was not alone. Where I
> was possibly alone was in the idea that MISE ÉIRE (and possibly
> SAOIRSE? - although right now I'm not sure we screened both.) would
> be an engaging experience for a British audience in 1960. The
> sound track was entirely in the Irish language, and the distributor,
> Gael Linn, the Irish language and cultural organisation, clearly
> intreagued that a British film society wanted to show the film,
> suggested that, as no-one would be likely to understand Gaelic, it
> would be better if we ran the film silent. Given that the material
> was characterized by extended newsreel-type silent shots of
> funerals, the film, for some, was a hard watch. The audience stuck
> it to the end (nearly an hour and a half I think) and many said it
> was a strangely moving experience - as it was for me, because we
> were forced to watch the slow and remorseless progress of huge
> crowds !
> and funeral processions which seemed to make visible the history and
> soul of Ireland. The shots were almost entirely wide angle, so
> individual humans were reduced to tiny token marks on the screen.
> The high-contrast, glistening record, unmediated by any
> interpretation (that the writer / director had decided was
> appropriate) threw us into the position of the archivist looking at
> a record, free to sink into the material and trawl one's own
> responses undistorted by another's interpretation. It was perhaps
> the first time that I and many of us had been able to look at film
> footage as material, and of all the films I programmed in those
> years MISE EIRA has stayed with me, like Bruce Conner's REPORT, Stan
> Brakhage's WINDOW WATER BABY MOVING and George Franju's LE SANG DES
> BETES..(yes this last has a track, I know) and Gemmeker's MY
> WESTERBORK (my title).. but you won't know this one. (Perhaps I
> WILL make my "GEMMEKER, RESNAIS and ME" film yet.)
> So there you have it - yet another glimpse of the power of film by
> image alone to engage with human consciousness in a mode of
> pristine penetration.
> This has been an occasional interjection from East Yorkshire, home
> of The Holcus Effect.
> DW
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Experimental Film Discussion List [mailto:email suppressed
> ] On Behalf Of C Keefer
> Sent: 28 October 2009 20:38
> To: email suppressed
> Subject: Re: default silence versus intended silence
> Oskar Fischinger's masterpiece Radio Dynamics (1942) was made
> intentionally silent, in fact a head title states explicitly:
> Please No Music Experiment in Color Rhythm
> Cindy Keefer
> Center for Visual Music
> Fischinger Research Pages:
> btw those in NY can see a new 35mm print of this film in our film
> series accompanying the Guggenheim's Kandinsky exhibition. Selected
> Fridays.
> This film is also available on our Fischinger DVD.
> -----Original Message-----
> Wed, 28 Oct 2009 11:55:20 -0600
> Gene Youngblood <email suppressed>
> Re: default silence versus intended silence
> Re: default silence versus intended silence Unless history shows
> otherwise, I always assumed it was Brakhage. That is, having the
> option
> of a synchronous soundtrack and deliberately not using it. Bunuel
> did it
> in parts of L'age d'Or, and if we get into that there are probably
> numerous examples.
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.