Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thank you Captain *cough* Obvious *cough* Chion

Honestly, I was surprised when I first started reading this journal article. Here it’s supposed to be a scholarly journal, perhaps something we would use in a research paper, but yet it felt so elementary. I almost feel that a non film major would even come up with and understand the concept that by adding sound you can change the meaning of the film. Despite his kindergarten approach, I do agree that sound plays a major role in films today, whether it is in narrative, documentary or in experimental.

Chion talks about empathetic music, in which is the ability to feel the feelings of others. Music/sound can make us feel like we are part of the action. For example, it’s a given that when watching a horror movie and all of sudden there is dead silence while the main girl actress creeps around a corner with a knife in hand, we all know what’s going to happen next. The killer is going to jump out of somewhere. It’s something we have become immune to without even knowing. Or look at a film with a sad ending. If you didn’t have the sappy music to go along with it I don’t think you would get the same reaction from your viewers as you intended. I’ve even walked out of movies where I was like “I need to buy the soundtrack/film score when it comes out!” I believe sound/music/etc. can drastically change a movie for better or worse. I believe without a music score track the movie would drag and it wouldn’t flow as well.

I remember a couple years ago for 201 Berliner showed our class the stabbing shower scene from PHYSCO, once with sound and once without. I couldn’t believe the difference! The time he showed us it without sound I was bored out of my mind. The edits were so simplistic and I could care less about blood going down the drain for 10 seconds straight. When adding the sound of the girl screaming back into the film, it gave a more emotional effect and the blood going down the drain became important.

One thing that stood out to me in the article was when Chion discussed that when we hear someone speak we put all our concentration on them, trying to figure out who is speaking and what they are talking about. After we have established this we get more distracted by other noises that go on around us because we are now comfortable with the situation. This makes complete sense. I know I could be listening to music while doing homework and if someone calls my name from down the hall all my attention goes to them. Once I acknowledged who is speaking and what they are talking about I noticed myself getting back to my homework and possibly singing along to my music while I’m still engaged in conver with that person. It’s like you become a multi-tasker once you know what’s going on. I found that quite interesting.

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