The fourth installment of the ongoing podcast series, Bangkok is Ringing, is up now at Triple Canopy.
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Posts tagged with audiences
The pursuit of authenticity apparently knows no bounds. Says Murray:
We went and recorded a lot in South Africa and tried to be accurate to the background. My recorder went to the shantytowns. We found circa 1990 phones that we believed would be in Mandela’s office. We went to Robben Island — the jail door you hear is actually Mandela’s cell door. We got to record in his cell, which is kind of eerie.
In South Africa, we recruited 25 guys, professional players that they rounded up in Cape Town, and we had a professional rugby coach there. We got them together and we set them 25-30 yards apart and said, O.K., you guys run into each other as hard as you can. And I mean, it was just brutal what we got back.
Ryzik professes honestly that sound design is a mystery category, Academy-wise, that it’s “one of those categories that make people lose their Oscar pool.” Murray, like most people who deal with sound professionally, is obviously used to the association of invisibility with nonexistence that accounts for such a lack of awareness. (He starts the interview by saying “thanks for noticing. A lot of people just think the sound happens when they shoot the movie.”)
Coming up: a sound studies primer
Precious, out for about a month now, was a tremendously complicated movie to attend. Audience members were divided on how to respond, vocally. How should people react to difficult art? Loudly or quietly? And if loudly, how? This problem took on an ethical dimension, and the sound of the theater became one of the key ways that viewers experienced the movie as a document of race and racial difference.
Movie theater culture varies dramatically, but in most places audiences respond out loud in ways that are normative and even, in a sense, ethical. These modes of response are a very important part of how people are expected to relate to artwork. For instance, Film Forum has sustained, respectful silence with dashes of old-man snore, followed by a hearty concluding round of applause to recognize auteurship. The UA on Court Street has text-pages and outdoor voices. You might be interested to know that Jaipur, India has crying, whistling, and viewers generally wearing their hearts on their sleeves.
Although none of us knew a word of Hindi, the plot of “Rab Ne Bana De Jodi” (“God Made This Couple”) was pretty transparent. We were riveted for more than three hours (plus an intermission) by a twisting love story in which two of India’s most glamorous models played an ordinary working couple struggling through an arranged marriage. In a device I found Shakespearian, especially for its implausibility, the male lead did double-duty as a working schmo and a hubristic fop, changing only his shirt, glasses, and mustache in the transformation.
You get the idea from the trailer:
Anyway, the crowd in the gigantic one-screen theater with the ice cream paint job treated the movie like an event from the opening shot. Particularly in the first and the last half-hour, every scene was accompanied by shouts of delight and expressions of concern. By the end, the crowd was worked up, and the babies were at their crankiest. As the protagonists (fop now revealed as schmo) were named the winners of the climactic dance contest, and the central motif began playing for the last time (1:45), there was a grand finale of appreciative clapping and whistling.