Category: fav films


A fan of silences:Walter Murch (below) andThe Godfather (Above).

The Godfather

     The music of sound – The Hindu  –  Excerpt :

 Think of sound as a fabric, smooth and cruel like silk or rough and warm like tweed,” said Walter Murch to an audience breathlessly hanging on to his every word.

It was a master class that created images to describe sound. The Oscar-winning ( Apocalypse Now, The English Patient ) sound designer and editor was speaking at the 11th edition of Berlinale Talent Campus. Part of the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, the theme for this year’s Talent Campus was “Some Like It Hot – Filmmakers as Entertainers” and featured directors such as Paul Verhoeven ( Basic Instinct ) and Jane Campion and actors including Holly Hunter and yesteryear bombshell Anita Ekberg sharing their knowledge and experiences with film students.

Starting at the very beginning, Murch spoke of sound and space in the womb. “Sound is the first of the senses to be turned on at four-and-a-half months.” While in the womb there is no sense of space and self; outside the womb, the child understands causality and sound — how actions such as clapping hands, snapping fingers or dropping a plate creates different sounds, Murch said.

Murch recalled his ground-breaking work in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972) to illustrate the use of causality to enrich the narrative. He recalled the restaurant scene where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) avenges the attempt on his father’s life.“Coppola decided the scene would be in Italian with no subtitles, which meant that unless you understood Italian, the dialogue was unintelligible. Coppola also didn’t want music to dilute the tense scene. The challenge was in conveying the tension in a non-intrusive way. I grew up in New York close to where the scene was shot and decided to use the sound of the train. There is no direct causality as there is no train in the frame but there is a deeper causality. When you use the sound like music, it functions as an X-ray of what’s going on in Michael’s head. He is about to kill two people, and his dream.”

A fan of silences:Walter Murch

Describing film and music as “yin and yang,” Murch stressed on their necessary balance. “Music can be overpowering, like steroids. Filmmakers use music as steroids for emotions; not trusting the audience’ emotion. The Godfather lets the audience feel the emotion without music.”

In Apocalypse Now , Coppola’s 1979 retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness set against the backdrop of madness of war in Vietnam, “Francis wanted the sound to surround the audience; he wanted the explosions to be felt rather than heard.”The iconic opening sets the sonic landscape of the film — the hiss and ominous throb of the choppers are heard before they are seen. As we look at a tightly-wound Martin Sheen in a hotel in Saigon, “We can hear the jungle even though we are looking at a hotel room in Saigon; we are inside Sheen’s head. The sound of the city morphs into the sound of the jungle.”

Murch warns against the danger of over-articulating the surround saying, “You run the risk of taking the audience out of the trance. There is a small window for the sweet spot of between two to three decibels — more is intrusive, less the audience cannot hear. You don’t ever want your audience to say “so what?” You don’t want habituation — getting so used to certain things that it almost disappears like temperature or the sound of traffic.”

Once the floor was thrown open, the questions came thick and fast. One of the first was about working with composers. “Music is what it is; it embodies its own meaning,” explained Murch. “ If you throw music in the end, it isn’t nourishing. If the music is made before the movie is shot, the actors know the partner they are dancing with.”

For all the sound and light of the movies, Murch is a fan of its silences. “Cinema is the only art form that can use silence. Cinema is a theatre of thought. In The Conversation , (1974) Gene Hackman’s character is a sound recordist. The second half of the film does not have much dialogue. Just as you appreciate stars better on a moonless night, you appreciate sound in the absence of dialogue.” Murch cited Touch of Evil , No Country For Old Men and Wages of Fear for the effective use of silence.

What makes an editor? “The ability to work long hours in a dark room and a sense of rhythm and story are the basic requirements. I take pretty detailed notes and study it like an explorer studies a map and then I almost never refer to them again. It is a good training, like artists studying anatomy. I would encourage that kind of discipline,” said Murch . “The crucial point of editing is to know where the cut point is. Never decide by scrolling the scene. You have to feel it by music and emotionally. Every film has a definite rhythmic signature,” he adds.

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Taking a knife to a classic | The HinduExcerpt

Thoughts on Hitchcock’s Psycho, Gus Van Sant’s remake of the film, and the ruthlessly butchered version shown on television

Psycho is widely seen as the progenitor of the modern-day slasher film, yet watching it today, I wonder if that credit shouldn’t actually go to the movie Hitchcock made immediately after — The Birds, where the “slashing” came through beaks and talons instead of a knife gripped by an unforgiving hand. In a sense, yes, the famous shower scene opened the sluices for everything graphic and gory we see today, but behind it all is a nagging moral tone that seems very much a vestige of the 1950s (Psycho was released in 1960) — hardly “modern-day”.

…………… The most touching aspect of Psycho is that the heroine, Marion Crane, dies after she decides to go back home and hand over the money she’s stolen and face the consequences.

Today, though, God is largely absent from the screens, and when we see bad things happen to people, we do not think of it as His vengeance. The Birds is truly a modern-day movie, in the sense that it’s all chaos. Birds swoop in and attack and then, just as suddenly as it all began, it ends. People are punished — apparently — for nothing at all, for nothing more than simply existing with the usual shades of human foibles.

They do nothing more to invite misfortune on themselves than, say, the victims of the serial killers in The Silence Of The Lambs or Se7en or Zodiac (though the serial killers themselves could probably be traced back to Psycho). That’s what we see and know today, that innocent folk suffer and die all the time, and that’s why The Birds, more than Psycho, appears to me the progenitor of the modern-day slasher film.

These thoughts came about a few weeks ago when I was unwell, confined to the indoors and thrown at the mercy of television channels. There’s clearly some kind of unwritten law that the day(s) you’re actually free to watch hours of television, there will be nothing worth watching — but by some stroke of luck, I stumbled into Gus Van Sant’s 1998-remake of Psycho, a “modern-day slasher film” at least with respect to the year of its release.

The film, as you may know, is a scrupulous attempt to replicate the Hitchcock classic. The non-numerical lettering of the date is the same: FRIDAY DECEMBER THE ELEVENTH TWO FORTY THREE PM. The cop who questions Marion, who’s fallen asleep in her car, still wears creepy dark glasses that block out his eyes. But it’s in colour — so we see, for instance, that the bars that fracture the screen in the opening credits are green. And the stolen amount has increased from $ 40,000 to $ 4,00,000.

Despite what’s been said, Van Sant’s film is not a shot-for-shot remake. In the opening scene in this version, Marion and her lover are in bed, after making love. In the older film, the implication is still that they’ve made love, but because of censorship restrictions, they couldn’t be shown in bed together — and we see him standing beside the bed.

Then there are changes in the characters. In the older film, we get the feeling that Marion was making it up as she went along, whereas here, she has a crafty gleam in her eyes, an I-pulled-it-off look. The theft seems premeditated, and thus we don’t feel sorry for her when she’s killed. And because of this change, we don’t understand why she repents, why she wants to go back and return the money.

For 1998, it’s strange that Van Sant didn’t feel free enough to do more with the scares, because, seen today, the original Psycho is hardly scary, more interesting as a director’s showcase than as a thriller that will make you jump out of your seat. The new film, therefore, is little more than a curio. And it was even more of a curio on TV, after the censors got through with it. This is what happens in the famous shower scene: Norman’s mother comes into the bathroom, she lifts the knife, Marion screams, and… we cut to Mother leaving.

Stabbing, clearly, is too much for Indian television, never mind that our masala movies such as Rowdy Rathore, featuring far more graphic violence, are allowed to run almost untouched.If Psycho is known for anything, it’s the shower scene, and now there’s no shower scene. ……………..

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A spiritual experience……….

spring summer fall winter and spring – kim ki duk – silence-stunning……. visually and aesthetically . The seasons of life , the karma principle .

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