In this post I am going to analyse one minute and 13 seconds of a movie Listening (2015). Analysis begins at 33:00 of movie and ends at 34:13.
In this scene main character is determined to continue his research on telepathy. Protagonist uses prototype technology to read his colleagues mind. Mind reading is broken off by main character as he gets disturbed by read information.
Voices and speech
From speech in this short period a viewer can already determine that characters are American. They have a standard, midwest American accent. Characters are from working class and are somewhat educated.
In the beginning, tone of the voices is a mixture of sadness and determination. Later on as mind reading begins timbre changes into seductive, sexual context. Overall, tone is quite soft, but deep.
Voices are used mostly in mid-space. When mind reading begins whispers and overlapping voices created mid-space atmosphere. Because of echoes, it is hard to determine what test subject is trying to say. However, one clear message comes through. Side character Jordan telepathically says to main character “David, take my body”. This sentence arrives in close up space, loud volume, dominating all over sounds. Afterwards an immediate change of space: from Jordan’s close up voice a viewer is transported back to reality’s mid-space as protagonist David breaks off the connection.
Music is used to enter a new scene of testing telepathical machine and to create a sinful yet angelic atmosphere during mind reading. At first music is digital and cyber. This choice is linked to unnatural context of experiment itself. With crecendo and fast pace rhythm a sense uprising tention and uneasy atmosphere is created. Later on as mind reading begins, two soundtracks overlaps each other: side character’s voices and female voiced choir. Choir is linked to church, which connects to heaven. So high and soft notes makes telepathy a blessing. However, the angelic voices rhythmically creates a disonance which disturbs heaven like atmosphere and add ups a sense of sin. It makes sense, because main character is hearing sexual context from a woman who is not his wife so that makes this a sinful moment.
Two most significant sound effects used in this piece was crickets in the night and thunder sound of beginning of telepathy. Crickets created a nice and easy diagetic atmosphere. Pretty natural and realistic. Sound fades out as electronical music dominates. A sound effect of thunder is related to unexpected powerful source of information flowing through main character’s brains.
- KULEZIC-WILSON, D. (2008) Sound design is the new score. Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, II (2), pp. 127-131.