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Advent XXII

Behind window 22: Foley


Blow Out, Brian De Palma, 1981

There is nothing more unnatural than sound in movies. What we all to readily bypass is easily proven to be fake if the soundtrack and the visuals fall out of sync. The cinematic experience of sound is a complex one. The synthetic  often appears more real than the real [especially for those aural instances we experience on the screen but not in everyday life]. For instance with real explosions, as light and sound travel at different speeds, there is no concurrent effect as there is in the movies. Fist fights rarely sound as chop-socky as the filmic version [actually punches mostly sound rather ‘dull’ ]. And what we hear is more often than not nothing unique. For instance the so-called Wilhelm scream – a sound effect first used in 1951 for the film Distant Drums – is Hollywood’s go-to shriek. It’s a cinematic sound cliché which has been used in well over 200 movies.

Great movies about Foley include The Conversation [Coppola, 1974], and Blow Out [De Palma, 1981].


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