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Posted by Patricia Zimmermann at 6:56PM   |  59 comments
finger lakes environmental film festival

Blog written by Ann Michel and Phil Wilde, coprincipals, Insights International

Why should you bother to create a sound track from scratch and mix together audio tracks into a sound track, a soundscape? 

Is it worth the effort? 

Sometimes less is more. 

What about silence? Try it.

Nothing challenges our busy brains more than to fill this silence, this void. 

A little silence can go a long way. 

Musicians know this. Without a rest note, there is no syncopation. Syncopation adds interest, as do many other musical forms. 

 

Go ahead. Get your viewers to work a little

 

Creating a good sound track requires great subtlety. And it is subtlety and nuance that separates competent, good work from great work.

 


59 Comments

I do find the idea of silence in cinema to be an interesting idea. Silence pervades our existence. We are not constantly berated with sound. Even just the absence of music in a scene would make a great difference. While not exactly silence, the absence of music would create, in my mind, a very realistic and stark view of the world in which we are viewing. It would not work for every movie. However, the Polish film Interrogation, which had no scored music in it, befits, I think, from its lack of soundtrack. It allows the horrors of what is happening in the film to feel more real and allows the audience to come up with their own emotions, rather then have the music and sound dictate it for them. Out of curiosity, if you get the chance to read this, what do you think would be a good use of silence in cinema?

I find silence in cinema to be an intriguing topic. It can be used for many things such as establishing a certain atmosphere, tone or mood within a film. The presence of silence or rather absence of sound brings attention to the image being presented or perhaps makes us more aware of any noise.
There are plenty instances of this throughout cinema, but I have paid more attention to its uses in recent releases such as "The Prophet" and "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days". Both films being heavily grounded in reality and presents a gritty view of the world.

I love silence in movies, and I find it very effective. I'm always caught off guard or I'm called to attention when there is silence in a movie. I agree with James, Interrogation definitely benefited from the lack of soundtrack. It made the whole movie more realistic to me. SInce most of the time, music aids the viewer in experiencing the emotions that correspond to the movie, the lack of music in Interrogation left more to the imagination. Silence in movies is a very curious subject.

I agree with Talia. By voiding the use of sound at certain points within a film the emotions are not dictated. This allows all viewers to take their own ideas and emotions from the film making every persons viewing unique. I also believe that at certain times in a film it may be a good idea to have complete silence (no music or sound) to have people really focus on the image presented. If done right this could be a very powerful technique.

I agree with Richard Paek about silence being used for establishing a certain atmosphere or tone. It can help the audience try and find the message that the film is displaying. I feel that silence in movies can help bring more attention to the images as well. Sometimes the cinematography is just as powerful as any sound to help display the story. To add on to what James Earl said, silence does not work for every film, especially action or romantic comedic films, but sometimes the silence that comes across in horror films is a good thing because it adds suspense and anticipation to the film.

I agree with Talia that silence is very effective, but i don't think that it generates a void of emotion that you have to fill in. I believe that it lends it's own emotional weight to a scene. Take the film M for example, in the several scenes where there is no sound whatsoever, it lends a sense of anxiety, and suspense to the scenes.

I believe that soundscape is most important, especially in the Hollywood movie scene, because sound enforces movement and it can be a major repetition agent which allows for the movie to flow from one scene to another.
In experimental films, silence can be used as a symbol for some thesis in the movie. Experimental films can get away with using silence to prove a point. Hollywood films cannot because they must meet a strict code in order to be marketable, silent films in modern era doesn't sell in Hollywood

I agree with Shea in that soundscape is extremely important in the "Classical Hollywood" movies, because a certain set of conventions and expectations has been set up over the decades for that type of film. This "rule" of course can still be broken, but it seems to be harder to do so in that type of film. When it is broken successfully, I agree with Nodin, that it still has its own emotional weight to it. A void of music does allow for some interpretation in the viewer, but I think more so it makes an important and recognizable statement that there's no music for a reason, thereby allowing the viewer to experience other emotions from the images that perhaps they wouldn't have felt as strongly with music as well.

Agreed. I've always seen silence as a very important factor in a piece of work. Whether film, literature, or music, silence is golden. For instance, in my english class i am reading Huck Finn. This is my third time reading and i found it, as was the case the other times, to be very...boring. However, our teacher asked us to read some criticism of the book, including an article written by author Toni Morrison. She exclaimed that what stood out and disturbed her in the novel was not necessarily Twain's use of southern slang, but rather its quiescence, "the silences that pervade it and give it a porous quality that is by turns brooding and soothing."

Another example would be the Coen Brothers film adaptation of No Country For Old Men. The lack of score gives it a certain nightmarish quality that could not have been achieved otherwise. In my opinion, and I hate to be kind of trite but, silence may communicate more to the audience then a million words.

I'm gathering that the general consensus is that the use of silence is a tool to create a visceral, suspenseful, and realistic environment. I'd agree; music is the part of the film that helps the viewer understand the emotions of the scene. Without it, the emotions in the film are left to the imagination.

The 2008 film "Hunger" depicts the 1981 hunger strikes by the IRA in order to gain political status in Ireland. In one scene, the leader of the strikes discusses its morality with a local priest. The scene is shot in a 17-minute two shot of the men sitting at the table, discussing. There is no music, cuts, and minimal sound effects. Would atmospheric, tense music increase the drama? No. As the viewer we are worried about the conversation. Lack of music or cuts often lends boredom for the viewer, but in this scene, a high tension is held throughout because of these circumstances.

Here's the link:

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq0SETWIO8U

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VbigvWhnVc

Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4MY6bf0q4k


Silence is necessary not just in film but in music in general. It is what balances the music in the first place. It is just the same as the relationship between music and film as they counteract with each other. Silence is simply another tool at the hands of the composer. To answer James Earl, I think a good use of silence may be periodically during a tense scene or under dialogue, but this is just my opinion. My point being that as a tool it is subjective and it is up to the director and composer to decide when it should and should not be used. Everybody may spot a scene in a different way so there is no absolute right or wrong time to use silence. I think it is great, however, to see so many different opinions on the topic.

The world that we live in is rarely soundless. Therefore to convey silence to an audience is it possible to use diegetic sound? If you can hear the pipes creak in a room, doesn’t that mean the room is quiet?

There should be more silence in films now a day. In our world today, there is so much sound that illustrating silence in a film would be quite powerful. To answer James Earl's question, an element where I think silence could be dynamic is when the gaze is being established. It would instill curiosity, anticipation, or even anxiety within the audience because it is not often that silence occurs in many films. With a gaze, you have not verified what the character is looking at yet, and adding silence I think would draw the viewers in more.

In one of my cinema production classes I watched a piece from an old 70s film that had subtitles. The film included still photos, it did however have a soundtrack but because we were analyzing the still's matched with the subtitles we had it on silence. I much preferred it that way. It was very nice to look at the photos slowly telling a story and to really understand what was happening. It inspired me to make a silent film with still photos and subtitles, its amazing what a picture can really provide especially when you read the story underneath it, it's almost like a book on film. I very much enjoyed it.

I agree with Shea Lynch, saying that Hollywood films must have sound/soundtracks in a modern era to be successful. To be able to market to the masses a film must be in constant motion, always going some where with a lot of action or drama to keep the viewer interested. However, in experimental films the viewer can see that silence can go a long way. Silence can tell the viewer what is going on in a scene though peoples actions. Also the lighting in the scene can make the viewer feel a certain way. Sometimes, having silence in a film can make the viewer pay more attention and even receive more knowledge about what the film is saying to the viewer.

Sound is an integral part of creating the desired effect a film has on the audience. The addition of sound can add to, or change the meaning of images completely.
Strategic use of Sound's ability to evoke emotion is crucial for creating a films over all message.

The use of silence in a film, in my opinion, is key. If it's used correctly, it can captivate an audience, and will enrich the entire viewing experience. However, I've noticed that used incorrectly, silence can make a film very bland, and can severely slow down the pace. My question is, how do you keep up a fast, or steady pace without the use of sound, so that the film narrative and shots are cohesive?

Talia brings up a great point that silence in a film is very effective and allows the viewer to bring their own emotions into a particular film. Although this is very true, silence I don't feel has the same effect on people's emotions as actually having sound in a film does. I feel adding sound in a film allows the viewers' emotions to surface which can give people a full film experience.

Take a horror film as an example. Sound is what makes a horror film actually scary because it builds tension and allows the viewer to feel uneasy at certain points. Watching a silent horror film, the audience has to pay attention to specifically what is happening on screen and with the pace of a horror film, the viewers can't bring quite the right emotions that the writers, directors, etc. wanted you to feel. Sound is one of the most important elements in a production, and without it a film is simply incomplete in my opinion. I want to have an experience when watching a film. If I'm supposed to get scared, make me jump with some loud music. Build my tension by crescendoing to a climax. Let me understand the emotions of the characters by hearing their tones of voice. Give me the full experience.

I think that silence within a film or TV show could be really powerful given the right image. However, my CP1 teacher mentioned that majority of the time when discussing films, that there is never a completely silent moment. Sure, there are moments were there is no sound track or dialogue, but even then there is still sound coming from the creaking of a door, crickets, waterfall…..ect. So when you say a completely silent scene in a film does that mean without any sound at all? Or just without a soundtrack? Even in the silent film era the movies were not completely silent. There was always non-diegetic music. Without sound, the images projected onto the screen are flattened. However, if silence comes at the right moment, I believe it could really work.

I think Hollywood has made people dependent on sound and images working together in a movie to some degree. However, all the blame can't be put on Hollywood. For most people, they live their life based on what they see and hear, not one or the other. Sound and images have been working together long before Hollywood. So it makes sense that most movies are made with image and sound working together.
It is important to have sound in some cases. For instance, when you are watching torture scene the sound helps get the message across to the audience even better than added music or silence. However it also good to have silence at the right moment so the audience can take the image on screen and interpret it in their own way.

I recently watched a film in a history class about a prison during world war 2. Inside the prison the main character was tortured and it was made very clear the emotions she was feeling. The movie had no music at almost any point in the film and this gave the movie a very scary and life like feeling.

Dannah brings up a good point about silence in films never really being completely silent. I'm sure there is a film out there that literally uses no sound at all at some part or another that I just do not know about or realize, but there always seems do be some kind of diegetic sound. I think a very faint, diegetic background sound can help accentuate how silent a scene is, without making it literally silent (if that makes any sense?) To me, if I can hear the hum of the lights being on in a room full of people in a film, that seems more silent to me rather than a room full of people with absolutely no sound at all. Although I agree, silence is a good technique to use in a film to break up a score/soundtrack and draw attention to an image/scene, I think just a hint of diegetic sound that would go unheard in reality really brings into perpective how silent a part of a film is. That being said, I am partial to a soundtrack in films, so maybe I'm biased.

Silence is golden! Something that comes to mind is the example in lecture of audio recorders trying to get the perfect sound of a human body "bouncing" on the cement after flinging from a building. They tried to get the effects with pigs bodies but after running it with the visual the sound was so gruesome it was better to leave it silent. Silence allows the viewer to add their own imagination to the story. However, even just a slight hint of diegetic sound can spark imagination. The buzzing of a light, clicking of a pen, or a whistle of an innocent passer-by.

Silence is a tool that can be powerful if used correctly. Emotion can be created by establishing a pattern through repetition and then breaking it. Silence could be an effective tool for breaking patterns. If a work has a busy soundscape, silence could signify a complete shift in the tone of a scene or even an entire film. Another way that silence could be used would be to draw attention toward one aspect of a film. Silence coupled with drawn out shots could build tension. Or Silence could accentuate isolated diagetic noises to a similar affect. The movie Interrogation was mentioned in an earlier post as an example of a film that used silence and a lack of soundtrack to its advantage. I agree, however this tactic would not have been as effective if the beginning of the film had not included a musical number, displaying the protagonist's life before imprisonment. Silence is most effective when it can be compared to something.

This post made me think about a similar topic that we are discussing in my Public Communications class: the PAUSE. When making a speech, one of the most effective ways to get the audience's attention is to pause, or say nothing. Its very ironic considering a speech, much like a film, is supposed to be filled with words to present a message from a sender (i.e. a speaker or a film) to an audience. But, by saying nothing, the audience is more likely to listen up and anticipate what will come next.

Films should do this more often. In our busy world, silence is what is unusual or unnatural. Lulls in a movie are filled with sound and music. But, what if a film mimicked a speech? Instead of filling the transition with sound, could it be more effective to fill it with nothing, like a PAUSE, to allow the audience to anticipate and listen up for what is coming next?

I greatly agree with the comments made by James; I too find silence in film to be quite effectual. I believe the absence of sound forces the viewer to concentrate solely on the actions occurring onscreen. Similar to music when a singer sings a song accapella there is nothing to distract the listener from anything besides the main action of the subject.

Though I believe silence to be somewhat refreshing in a world pervaded by sound, I think sound adds effect to the mood and overall feel of a scene. As Katherine pointed out, especially in the horror genre, sound is imperative to a scene. For example, what would a movie like Psycho be without the suspenseful music in the shower scene. I doubt that this infamous and defining Hitchcock shot would be as memorable.

I agree with Scott in that silence in a film can be very effective in several different ways. When there is total silence, you are ripping the floor right out from under the audience; I feel as though it's a message from the director telling the viewer that the emotions one should be feeling in this particular scene aren't going to be shoved down your throat with a dark, scary score as scene in every horror movie, or some beautifully dramatic crescendo when two lovers finally kiss in a romance. With the use of silence the filmmaker is trying to make one think and feel for themselves, without any other influence but the visual on the screen.

Silence is a powerful tool, in all forms of art. A silent art gallery allows for individual (person to picture) concentration, instead of being construed/guided by sound. In a film, which has been the most common discussion within this blog feed, silence has great prominence. Films without a score tend to be eerie and serious (Przesluchanie 1989). While films with score that have well timed silence (Koyaanisqatsi 1982) punctuate meaning within the film.

Silence is an amazing thing, providing an infinite potential for emotion through the lack of sound. It's a tool easily forgotten in hollywood, but constantly present through avant-garde, indie, international, and experimental films.

Few things as simple as silence can be as influential as silence. In everyday life there is nothing more mood-altering than sudden, unexpected silence. Silence in film commands a certain attention that any sound cannot elicit, the silence deafens the viewer and hones his vision, he is forced to really look because he cannot hear. He is drawn into images and the narrative because he questions, just like during an awkward silence at the family dinner table,: what just happened? what's happening now? why did it get so quiet? I wonder what is more commanding of the viewer's attention: no sound or no images?

A study done by A. Barbour says that humans communicate 55% through body language and only 7% through actual words. The use of silence in film has a powerful way of portraying a message that words sometimes can't. Along with silence, non-verbal communication such as eye contact, facial expressions, and body language are sometimes as important as a screenplay in movies. The movie "No Country For Old Men," directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, is a great example for the use of silence. The long shots of silent Texas landscapes provide an uneasy tension in viewers that couldn't be achieved through dialogue. To me, direction of non-verbal communication in movies can sometimes be the difference maker in the creation or failure of forming a successful cinematic world.

The great Charlie Chaplin never liked the concept of sound. However, to compensate with other competing artist, Chaplin had to assimilate into the world of sound. The Great Dictator (1940) parodized Hitler and his cruel actions during World War 2. The film did not go over so well; although, it defines who Charlie Chaplin truly is, a silent film artist. From his films like The Kid (1921), Chaplin can portray the whole narrative and mood of the film without the use of sound. Like all films, there is audio (usually a pianist or band in the room).


Audio is only important to certain film genres. The audio can trigger the fear in the audience instead of the film itself. The audio builds up to the main conflict of the sequence. In comedy, the audio is there for an uplifting sound. It sets the mood for the audience.

Having no audio can have a serious effect to the film. When a film is completly silent, the film can be significantly serious. A true but tragic story in history is commonly portrayed in this manner. The film, Interrogation (1989) has no soundtrack at all. It deals with the Polish Communist government inprisoning female citizens and torturing them.

It all depends on the film. Sometimes silence is not the best choice; not to say that choosing a popular song to accompany a scene is always the best choice, either. It seems that popular songs are used often in popular movies, when having bare or hand crafted sound or music could create a much more unique viewing experience (and perhaps a more creatively stimulating experience for the artist).

I think a soundtrack is imperative to a good movie. Sure you can have low points in the music where it is silent for a bit but I think that would leave the audience wanting something that was left out; thats what I would think if a movie only had dialogue and had little to no soundtrack. The question of effort should be irrelevant because you should take pride in ding what you know what makes the movie a quality movie. So in conclusion music should be a more dominant force in a good movie in contrast to silence.

You say, "It is subtelty and nuance that separates competent, good work from great work." That reminds me so much of John Williams. The man that composed Star Wars, which is ranked the greatest film score of all time by AFI. In it he creates an epic, grand, and complex orchestral arrangement, but when given a movie about a shark, he was bold enough and brilliant to compose just two notes.

Still it's interesting to think what would be the proper situation to create that perfectly dramatic silence? What is the moment that metaphorically begs for silence just as Jaws beg for its two notes?

The sound of silence is an interesting concept in entertainment. Usually the audience can expect some sort of noise when they go to a movie. While nothing can beat a good musical soundtrack for me, noiseless films could be very interesting. Of course, this depends on the content of the film. It would be pretty annoying to try and follow a plot with no audible dialogue. On the other hand, it could be engaging to follow a wideshot of a landscape in silence. Personally, I would be interested in seeing a bustling cityscape in silence, because that would require more imagination.
Despite all of this, I am a firm believer that sound is essential. If I were to watch a movie without sound, it would seem like it's trying too hard to be edgy. It just seems like rebelling for the sake of trying something new, but the payoff isn't all that grand.

Even though silent movies mark an important era for the art of filmmaking, personally, I do not like them. Whenever I watch a silent movie, I feel deaf, I feel as if something is missing. You know, it is like a dish without salt. So, you ask: Why should you bother to create a sound track from scratch and mix together audio tracks into a sound track, a soundscape?, because sound isn’t redundant and the connection between sound and images is important. Internal and external diegetic sound allows you to enter the world of characters, to get to know them, to feel their pain or happiness. For a moment it allows you to be a part of a new and exciting world. What about extra-diegetic sound? Imagine you are watching a horror movie and you know that whenever you hear a particular sound, something bad is going to happen, sound takes the role of a herald. But sometimes it might trick you –you are standing at the edge of your seat and you hear the sound, you get the chills and… nothing happens. It tricks you, allows you to realize how sucked into the plot of a story you actually are. So, in conclusion, is it worth the effort? Yes.

Some say silence is golden, and they are right. When watching a film if there is a silent moment it make the viewer pay closer attention to what is going on in the scene, and makes that viewer work, without any pre-concieved ideas brought on my the directors or sound editors of what it is you should be taking away from the scene.
While silence can make for a very intense and thought-provoking scene, there could also be too much silence in a film, for instance if you have an experimental film and a very specific idea you are trying to convey, it might come out different in the viewers mind if you don't spell out what you are trying to do with the scene. It could make for a whole different outcome of the movie.
If that is something you are looking for while making your film could be done really well with some silence.

I think that silence in a film is only successful because films nowadays are filled to the brim with multiple audio tracks that are mixed really loud, completely surrounding the viewer in sound. So when we experience a movie with a break in the sound, it stands out and makes us very aware of the absence of sound. It reminds me of a Jack Kerouac quote, "If all the world were green then there would be no such thing as the color green." Silence is successful because of sound. A truly silent film would become awkward after a while. Of course, I am not saying that silence is not important; sometimes the most important things occur during a moment of silence or limited activity.

Going off of what Lexus said earlier, I think it's very important that our lives are rarely silent. People are constantly talking, cars roar by in the streets, and roommates snore a lot. When there is silence in a film, it gives an interesting "beat" or "rest." This is often used in action movie chase scenes. Imagine the main character racing through the inner city, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, surrounded by deafening explosions! But suddenly, she reaches the edge of a building, and holds on for dear life with one hand!

...

For a moment, there is silence as she struggles back up the railing. All we can hear is the wind whipping through her hair.

...

Then, the sound starts again. KABOOM!

So, it's my opinion that when used sparingly, silence can be extremely effective.

A good movie needs a collaboration of silence and a soundtrack. Not many movies utilize silence. Most film makers feel the need to have an elaborate soundtrack, with copious extra-diegetic sound, but is that really what is good? Sure, in a high budget action film, that is great, but silence can often times be more effective than sound could ever be. When watching a movie, a viewer expects to be hearing some kind of noise throughout the whole film, so what happens when they don't hear anything? Discomfort. This void of sound makes us feel anxious. As humans, we do not like total silence, it makes us feel totally alone and can often frighten us. So, if this is what the director is going for, then why not use silence? It is just as, if not more effective than any soundtrack.

I feel that silence is a sound, because our minds fill in the silence with thoughts about what is going to occur next in the situation, and the movie becomes more personal and easier to relate to. This being said, I think moments of silence can only be used in certain instances to be considered "successful" in portraying a message in a film. I think creating a soundtrack is worth the effort because the film industry is a form of entertainment, and movies with sound are more entertaining to a wider variety of people who go to movies to get lost in their plots, rather than think about why a silence occurred.

It’s so true. I agree that a little silence can go a long way. Without silence there is no syncopation. Without syncopation, there is no interest. There are many ways to challenge a viewer, moments that require in-depth thought, and using sound as an advantage is one way. One of my favourite directors, David Lynch, is a sound freak, and for his experimental first film “Eraserhead” used sound editing to create another world; a world of black and white urban decay, reminiscent of early German expressionistic films (Fritz Lang, Robert Wiene). Lynch uses sound to his advantage to evoke a disturbing emotion from viewers as a father kills his mutant child in the film’s unforgettable climax. “Go ahead,” the blog reads, “get your viewers to work a little”.

Overall, I feel that silence and sound work together to create memorable, meaningful work. Even in everyday interactions, society tends to find silence as uncomfortable or awkward. This notion intrigues me because how could the silence of thoughts, ideas, words, conversation provoke such a strong emotion when interacting. Sound, whether connotative or denotative, can tend to be overbearing at times. Many up and coming filmmakers, musicians, etc., tend to feel a need to overemphasize the need for constant noise and possibly try too hard to evoke emotions. Think about the world today, people communicate with sounds most often and usually take time out to be in silence whether its reading, meditating, or even napping. Think about the world the opposite way, what if people had to communicate through silence, just through pure body language and in contrast, used sound as a way of escaping, a new form of silence. It seems very odd but this experiment would allow society maybe to realize that sound is just used frequently to fill up space yet through silence, we can unpack who we really connect with, who and what are emotions are really touched by through pure natural connection. I find that the subtlety is edgier, is more open to interpretation, has more meaning and therefore, will be able to reach out and thought provoke much of society.

Silence is a powerful tool, it allows for imagination to fill the moment. There are many different emotions that can be conveyed though silence, ranging from loss and mourning to moments of peace and tranquility. When there is an emotion conveyed though the silence of the moment, it relies heavily on the images that are on the screen in front of the audience. It is up the them to draw the conclusion and if the image is not clear on what the intended feeling is, that is when the imagination takes over, and the possibilities are limitless.

Silence is undoubtedly a powerful element in a soundtrack; however, it is not a crutch on which to lean. A developed, nuanced soundtrack should always be pursued to add dimensionality to a world, for silence represents the opposite: a world lacking dimension. Such silence is particularly effective when used in dramatic scenes or those meant to be particularly disruptive. After all, which is more unsettling: the roar of battle or the silence that follows?
It is important to note, however, that silence loses its strength when used in a section of the soundtrack that is already quiet; that it becomes more noticeable when used as a juxtaposition to the action on the screen.

I find silence to be an extremely usefully tool in cinema. However, silence is hard to employ in a movie in which it successfully creates a certain atmosphere within the scene. I think silence when used with certain scene in a way mickey-mouses and emphasizes what is going on in the scene. For example if a person where to shoot the destruction the day after 9/11 silence would be emphasizing the nothingness of the Twin Towers and the people that went down with them.
Yet, in some situations I also believe sound effects such as someone's heart beat, breath, or reaction can be just as powerful as silence. For example, in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" when Sirius dies Harry's screams are silenced and have background music instead. I believe it would have been more of a traumatic moment if they had silenced the scene and only had Harry screaming. Nevertheless, I think the most effective silences I have seen in films are when a destructive event happens and silence occurs when your being shown the aftermath.

I find silence to be an extremely usefully tool in cinema. However, silence is hard to employ in a movie in which it successfully creates a certain atmosphere within the scene. I think silence when used with certain scene in a way mickey-mouses and emphasizes what is going on in the scene. For example if a person where to shoot the destruction the day after 9/11 silence would be emphasizing the nothingness of the Twin Towers and the people that went down with them.
Yet, in some situations I also believe sound effects such as someone's heart beat, breath, or reaction can be just as powerful as silence. For example, in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" when Sirius dies Harry's screams are silenced and have background music instead. I believe it would have been more of a traumatic moment if they had silenced the scene and only had Harry screaming. Nevertheless, I think the most effective silences I have seen in films are when a destructive event happens and silence occurs when your being shown the aftermath.

Having silence in a film is courageous. SIlence enables vulnerability. Without the aide of a soundtrack, the viewer is able to create their own perception of the atmosphere of the scene. By giving the viewer this power, is the producer giving up their control of the message they are trying to portray to the viewers? It is rare to encounter genuine silence in any film. Even back before the time of sound, during the silent film era, films were never shown silently. A pianist would accompany the screening, creating the mood and atmosphere of the film for the viewers. It seems as though a soundtrack almost acts as a crutch for film makers. Having the ability to successfully incorporate silence into a film has a greater impact than sound.

I think a complete soundtrack is necessary because, although sometimes silence is important in a film, sound can greatly enhance the movie. The films from the silent film era were never actually silent. They always had some sort of music, whether performed live in the theater or not. Even in films today when there is silence, say during an awkward conversation, there is not really silence. There is room tone or some other underlying sound that is not really noticeable, however if it was not present it would be extremely noticeable that it was not there. I guess this could have certain uses and help convey something, however I would rather put some sort of room tone or the like.

Soundtrack can do so much for a film: it can instigate emotion in the viewer, it can fill a cinematic void, it can even help to identify the film as a certain genre. However, just as sound can enhance a film, so can the lack of sound. In terms of diegetic vs. non-diegetic, the same theme could apply had the diegetic sound be completely removed and replaced with something else; Think of Elias' death scene in Oliver Stone's "Platoon" (1986) and as he throws his arms up on the brink of death, the sound of machine guns and explosions ceases as Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" is heard. Such a void of diegetic sound, even though it is replaced with music, has such an impact on an audience.

This raises an interesting point about not only film-goers, but also about society in general. Today's incredible abundance of technology creates so much noise and commotion that we rarely take time to be silent. Back in the days of silent cinema, people were held engaged by movies that many people see as "stupid" now. However, the culture of movies and movie-going was radically different then than it is now. I think that part of the reason that people today are so uncomfortable with silence is that it forces them to think. By adding silence to a soundtrack, you not only create expectation, but also make the viewer think about what has happened and what's coming next.

It's very true that sometimes a film can be way more effective without a soundtrack. It adds this intense realistic feel to it that can either be terrifying or heart wrenching. A good example of this would be the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There is not a single drone of music throughout the entire film giving it a very documentary film. And that's what makes the movie so scary and disturbing. Because there's no music telling you what to feel, your brain has to go on pure instinct. So yes, music is not always needed. Sometimes it makes a film so much better.

It's very true that sometimes a film can be way more effective without a soundtrack. It adds this intense realistic feel to it that can either be terrifying or heart wrenching. A good example of this would be the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There is not a single drone of music throughout the entire film giving it a very documentary film. And that's what makes the movie so scary and disturbing. Because there's no music telling you what to feel, your brain has to go on pure instinct. So yes, music is not always needed. Sometimes it makes a film so much better.

Silence, when used correctly, is certainly a powerful device. I think because it is used sparingly it effects the audience and usually creates a disjointed moment that tells the viewer exactly what is being emphasized. Another, plus side of silence is that it brings a certain reality to a film. However, it must be used correctly to be effective just like any other aspect of a soundtrack.

Soundtracks and good soundscapes are, arguably, just as important as the images themselves in a film, though it is predominately seen as a visual medium of art. That being said, silence can be a powerful device just as distorted, dark or lack of images can be. Silence has it's purpose and of course it must be used correctly and effectively. I would be greatly intrigued in a silent film that was able to accomplish something sound is unable to do or benefits without it. For example Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) tells a somewhat complex and emotional narrative while still maintaining "silent film" status.

I agree with many points being made, but I fully support the use of silence in film. I think, as viewers, we are trained not to expect silence because of all our technological advances, but I feel like without sound we can interpret the image as we wish to.

With silence, the viewing relies solely on image. This can be disconcerting and exhilarating all at once. We are pulled from the film word and become more aware of our own reality.


I think a soundtrack is imperative to a good movie. Sure you can have low points in the music where it is silent for a bit but I think that would leave the audience wanting something that was left out; thats what I would think if a movie only had dialogue and had little to no soundtrack. The question of effort should be irrelevant because you should take pride in ding what you know what makes the movie a quality movie. So in conclusion music should be a more dominant force in a good movie in contrast to silence.

silence in film is very interesting. at first thought, one would think that silence could never be as interesting as sound. however, silence leaves the interpretation up to the viewer and encourages critical thought. the use of silence can also draw the viewers attention to a more detailed level because the lack of sound allows for less distraction. silent films are interesting to me because the silence is part of the artist's vision and silence brings you to a place that is almost impossible to reach in every day life. there is never a time when your surroundings are completely silent. because of this, silence in film is a different type of experience that is quite unique.

This brings to mind Alford Hithcock's The Birds. I was a child who was raised on Freddy and Jason, so I didn't think a bunch of birds would scare me. I remember the most unsettling thing about the film was it's lack of music. I was used to ominous creepy tones letting me know when to be scared, creating some type of Pavlovian effect in me. The Birds threw this upside down as calm silence would quickly erupt into screams, screams that seemed to echo in my head during the silence that punctuated these periods of chaos. I'll never forget that film, however had it decided to use a typical soundtrack I highly doubt it would stick out so much in my memory.



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