Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

A little more film education

Today we started on sound in Film Studies, which was pretty interesting. We started off with diegetic/non diegetic sound. We saw a clip from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a clip which in no way inspired me to watch any more. You know that thing when a character says something dramatic, strides off and then his partner makes a remark, character turns back and says something else even more dramatic before striding some more? Well we watched a scene between the captain and his first mate, and this happened five times in a row - no fooling.

Anyway, for those of you curious and dim enough not to know what those long words meant, diegetic sound is sound within the movie world - though not necessarily on screen. People talking, birds tweeting, cars passing...whereas non-diegetic is anything the characters can't hear, such as voiceover or music. Though not music from a radio. You mean to tell me you didn't know that? Well my my...shame on you...

The real dielemma comes when dealing with, eg, imaginary friends in imaginary friend movies (I could name some, but I've a spoiler free policy) which only some people can hear...or what about the accompaniment in musicals, like Moulin Rouge?

This made me particularly cheery because we watched a bit of Once Upon a Time in the West's opening - the dialogue-free opening until the train turned up. Which was great, but then I wanted to see the rest of the scene...

I was trying to untangle the infamous baptism montage in the Godfather earlier, which was a thorough mess. The music is obviously non-diegetic, but the priest's voice flickers between both depending on the screen and it's all too confusing...this one's easier...

So that's a wuvvy bit of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and it shows off the types of sound quite nicely - they chat (diegetic sound) and then the music kicks in, which I jolly hope they can't hear (non-diegetic sound). The scene I really wanted to find was the prologue from Fellowship of the Ring but unfortunately I wasn't prepared to wade through 400 pages of fan videos and bad parodies on youtube to find it. But that's an interesting one, with voiceover, music and diegetic sound - concurrent or consecutive.

We also learnt about sound bridges, which I'd never noticed before cos they're kinda dull. That's when you hear the sound of dogs barking a split second before you see the dogs on screen - it links scenes together, and is pretty clever but not as fun as the final thing we learnt - that's parallel and contrapuntal sound.

Parallel music is basically when the images and the music match up. Contrapuntal is when it doesn't. The clip above is 100% parallel music - it's a cheery, sunny scene accompanied by the most affable music imaginable. Whereas, for example, if somebody should choose to torture a policeman to, say, "Stuck in the Middle with You" *cough*, that would be contrapuntal music. Savvy? Now I'm pretty sure that clip would be relitavely easy to find, but I probably shouldn't seeing as it's probably cheating...though I already know what happens...and having seen half of it...(it was on one of these "top 200 scary moments" things; it also was the point at which I got sent out of the room and so the two seconds of knife not yet connecting with ear have engraven themselves rather deep. After all, you never forget a film you see half of...) but debate aside I'm not going to find it - instead, here's a bit from Shaun of the Dead which is also pretty much spoiler free, though the very brief flashes of zombie may freak some people out:

Zombies! Scary! Terror! Queen! That is the very essence of the contrapuntal I think of it, lots of great scenes are made great by the odd but fitting choice of music. My review of The Third Man suffered greatly from the lack of the word contrapuntal - but now I can use it, may I add the slightly odd contrast of cheery zither/bleak noir works great.

My friend was pretty happy too, because they showed us a clip from Trainspotting, when he's preparing to quit heroin to the sounds of Carmen, and she loves it. So all in all, all was well.

The joy of film studies is it teaches you things you already know in principle; it just informs you that some clever chap has invented a long word for it.

In other news, a jolly nice person posted links to on my friendly neighbourhood Rosencrantz and Guildenstern site (look, it's an active community of people just about as obsessed as I am (I have over 600 icons on my in love...); I can overlook the slash side. Not that I mind, it's just...I'm a fan of the "they don't exist" school, called into existence and given no time for anything else. There's something not right about the way they communicate - they don't even articulate their friendship, let alone anything else.'s much sweeter when it's only implied...*sighs*...), in particular the interviews from the R+G dvd. Because they're jolly hard to get hold of, my copy's actually Dutch and came without extras. Woes! Anyway, here's the most interesting things gleaned from that:

--> originally, the interchangable sweethearts were actually cast the other way around - which is a hell of a mindwarp. I pride myself on my imagination, my unfailing ability to add bungee jumpers to the Argonath and actually nudge Robert Redford into the Godfather (which only a series of lucky accidents prevented him from being in). Well this is one scenario I simply cannot visualise, and believe me that's unusual. Still, interesting, eh?
--> To complicate things more, he adds he thinks he could have played Hamlet pretty well...
--> they had such a lot of fun that they did lots of rehersals. In their spare time as well. And sometimes when they were just hanging out at the pub etc. And sometimes when they'd actually already shot the scene, just because it was such fun. OK, so you guys might not quite sympathise with how utterly wonderful this is, but I certainly think it is very sweet...

In fact that's just about it...PS visit the Film Experience Blog, I just found it today and it's a nice site...
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