Early Film and Sound Era Analysis, Research Paper Example
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Sound and film theories
During the interwar era, sound, or lack of it, created a new dimension and filled in the magic of expressing the reality of what was suppressed by those in power or ideologies. In a delicate era where oppression and justice were often ignored, and people were subjected to harsh realities of contradicting the law, filmmakers made a new expression technology through sound. Farmers (2010, p.8) explains that the interwar era is one that, in the French film, ended the four different schools of filmmaking. Popular mainstream filmmaking, which used narration, convention, and codes, disintegrated and produced more creative and diverse textual expression using text, sound, or silence.
According to Lewis ( 2018, p. 36-59), the methods of appealing to the audience in Europe and French films, particularly those produced by Hollywood, changed too. Baltag (2020, P.14) states that the avant-garde impressionist school expanded too. The narrative method of appealing to the audience that had dominated was incorporated with other devices which challenged the audience and the continuity of such injustice systems. Realist cinema schools began rejecting conventional cause-and-effect casting, and the film market forced the creation of abstract films. The four schools shaped the filmmaking theories and expression of onscreen images and implied meaning using silence, text, photos, and sound. The flowering of these popular schools, such as avant-garde, brought a lot of criticism to filmmakers. Theorist filmmakers such as Fondane, Auguste, George Melies, and Lumiere Louise went on producing new types of films as the demand stated more interest in such films. The roots of lyricism were twisted to develop poetic ways of words sounding like they were saying one thing while the meaning was different. To make this effect more useful, sound and silence became expression devices. The market force in the movie and film industry of the interwar era demanded a mechanism of scolding and criticizing the harsh realities and a way of talking about these issues nationally. Farmers (2010, p.3) refers to the sound in some of the movies as fringe cine poems as the characters chattered about the national problem in a satirical or humorous way, expressing the absurd lack of freedom of expression.
Critical theoretical selection on film sound/ music in the interwar time
The deep grounding theory informed the use of sound and silence in interwar-era filmmaking art. The sound element welcomed a non-montage and a new approach to films, a device of silent communication in this period. In an era where people were afraid to speak boldly about ideologies they opposed, films became an avenue to communicate indifference to the audience using sound and image. A dialectical approach to the sound theory of this era indicates optical and acoustic features in films that filmmakers made. The types of montage conflicts in the films show manipulation of images and sound, resulting in the passage of deep meanings. The Deserter film has lines and scenes to insert black leaders in Europe, which were commonly unacceptable then. Thompson (1980, p. 128) gives an example of the four shots chained in a sound effect to extend to an entire action scene, providing the people with an idea of a black leader in a positive perspective. There are also fast actions where sound is used to join riots and demonstrations and communicate the emotional function of these actions to the viewers in what seems a purely perceptual setting. Tararira film is an Argentinian absurd musical comedy where the sound of a lute quarter tells a shooting scene between the main character, his wife, and his sister. The three characters show the audience the different opinions and ideologies of the people about such an event in Argentina. Baltag (2020, P. 11) explains that one finds it adventurous and fantastic, the other is mad about it, while the sister is simply unconcerned.
This theory of using sound goes in Outskirts films where a factory boss throws boots, and the accompanying sounds of diegetic thumps in this film indicate jump cuts to those he perceivably was helping. Sound synchronization effectively destroys the film’s visual image display. Sound and images thus evoked a conceptual function and specific emotion, a counterpoint that became an onscreen diegetic device. Burke (2007, p. 1-4) states that the emotional process of using sound instead of words and music passes the message even though freedom of expression was unavailable. Farmer and Higbee (2010, 1-15) argue that silent film art was a way of meeting societal needs and avoiding words to say undesirable or taboo utterances in film. Modern mythology united thousands of the public through the silence in a rapport of the film that the audience got but dared not to talk about such issues. The silence was a way of expressing mystery and value poetically within the film. Baltag (2020, P. 3) argues that the silent film use was catastrophic as all speech or logic underpinning and action were void in most scenes. There was industrial art, where various filmmakers contrasted mechanical progress and aesthetics. According to Farmers (2010, p.6-7), the use of sound for superimposition was intelligent and a way of expressing the false reality to the audience.
Textual analysis of film theories
The English langue history indicates that the interwar period theories faced the absence or use of poetry in the interwar era and had become a dramatic mode of responding to injustices in European society. The films comprised questions and silence. The grammar of a movie uses sound and movement to communicate. The sound dominated the method of expression of suppressed words. Farmer and Higbee (2010, 1-15) asset sound as a critical technology in filmmaking in the Soviet Union. The social realist composers and filmmakers expressed relative to the use of sound to communicate anti ideology views in the film doctrine. Filmmakers aimed to create a lasting impression and implore people to use the relative periods of science and inactivity for reasons, especially in 1931-1933 films where spoken words were a political motive for victimization. Filmmakers made anti-montage films to criticize the Soviet Union. Significant filmmakers spent time planning how they would use sound to reason for things they avoided uttering in words or had to twist to ensure deniability. The communication was not always direct; sometimes, the meaning was hidden deeper in words or sounds in the films in the form of satire, silence, or humour. Farmers (2010, p.7) gives examples of cases where filmmakers in this interwar era made safer non-montage lines in their films but used sound technology to communicate their real intention and Statement in a non-influential or erratic way.
Early sound counterpoint
Thompson (1980, p. 129-130) argues that the early sound theory emphasized two stages: the experiment where filmmakers non-synchronized sounds, which eventually became the necessary counterpoint, a stage they referred to as the Statement. The Statement was a vague term to define a sound that had a deeper meaning than what was said or how it sounded to the audience. The tradition of the silent montage allowed filmmakers to create or cultivate ideas and feelings that words could not accurately express. The early sound theory’s avoidance of spoken words and language emphasized a character’s manners or actions.
Thomson (1980, p. 132) states that counter-film production was rare at this time, but significant directors of films constantly used sound-image disjunction to communicate and provisionally present a counterpoint. For example, the Alone and Deserter film has several counterpoints of the popular ideologies and narratives presented as a sound that people use to show enthusiasm and good manners, such as a thank you in a satirical way. The road to life film presents a case of a man facing severe beating for refusing oppressive ideology; in the end, he says thank you. The use of sound and words here does not mean anything close to a thank you, and the audience is supposed to learn from the Statement of the officers and the man and see the senselessness of such an action without being told so.
Early sound procedures and theories
Sound technology in the film industry during the 1920s-1940s was based on theories that it should have considerable impact and meaning in the film industry. The theorists cautiously admit to the aesthetic possibility that sound had a new element in the film. Thompson (1980, 132) explains that the filmmaker lived in a profound fear of expressing in words what they felt; thus, theoretical review of sound use and silent art theory while making films in the interwar era.
Baltag (2020, P. 17) argues that some of the most profound arguments and theoretical basis for using sound and silence during the film during the interwar era came from Benjamin Fondane. Fondane used artistic expression to express experiences to the audience. Sound in the film evokes feelings and creates a mental picture of what an event sounded like. According to Harrah (1954, p. 163-174), filmmakers can use sound to communicate deeper or hidden meanings by use of sound and silence, such as to humour the audience and give them time to rethink or see sense in something that might not be so obvious to them from the surface. Films and cinema in the interwar were a form of expression for many such as Fondane, a Romanian and French man who was in exile during this interwar era. Fondane thus uses sound for various reasons, one being the use of sound to create humour and play a monopoly of communicating semi-literate meaning in films. The use of images and sound contradicts what happens in the motion pictures played on the screen. It was one of his many techniques of using sound to create humour and also evoked sense and deeper reasoning in the audience about the reality of the world they were living in
Additionally, the filmmaking theory of Fondane entailed not saying words bluntly but using sound as an opportunity to discuss issues and events that the people could get in trouble or exile for saying. Fondane often implores in a satirical way the common sense of the audience in his movies, especially his Buenos Aires productions. Fondane theory on the avant-garde film focused on shaping experimental cinematic practices and making films that contributed to the provocation of the audience and realization of what had been happening between 1920 and 1940. His work examines the application of film theory in European cinematic practices in the interbellum epoch. Fondane used significant lacuna in this avant-garde film to give the audience a comprehensive overview of the wards and ideological foundation that had transpired and caused the chaos in the first place. While speaking to the French people in Buenos Aires, Fondane instilled in his audience a vision that exiles like himself were facing and what would occur to people who had blind faith in ideology that affected and disrupted their everyday lives.
Fondane theory on sound and film indicates that he viewed them as a response avenue to classical rationality, a way of exalting himself while in exile, and a unique mechanism to get out of self-exile caused by his indifference to popular opinion of the countries he went to. Cinema and filmmaking, to Fondane, were not just for entertainment but an avenue to communicate his ideas of rationality to the audience. In ways that people would frown upon or those that could land him in trouble, he believed in the use of silence in the film. The silence allowed the audience to question what seemed so obvious to them but needed critics or radical change. To Fondane, filmmaking was an art and an avenue to communicate even what one could never say in words.
Fondane’s sound concern during filmmaking includes the close-ups, superimposition, and movement of sounds to reveal hidden reality in his words and lyrics. Winter (1941, p. 146-174) analyses the numbered flashes and visual sequences that Fondane used to arrange words in a video clip in poetic and dramatic imagery so that people could use the films to find a deeper reflection of their reality and world. The use of flashing neon signs in the cinemas and then silent moment in them were an act to trigger memory and restitute the actual memory of what had happened during the war. For example, in Buenos Aires, Fondane in, some of his films included the ”’Ta’ to the audience. This talk before the film’s release was a way of stating facts by reiterating the motivation behind his films. People could often connect the events from the talk and what he cast in the movie, thus creating a visceral attitude among the audience.
Winter (1941, p. 146-174) explains that using sound and silence, which was equally crucial to Benjamin Fondane, allows the filmmaker to communicate what they do not want to say in their work. Fondane, a filmmaker in exile, believed that the film industry was a rich avenue to pass a message to the audience. He thus experimented with and critiqued films and how they could use sound to convey messages during the interwar era. Fondane’s theory believed in the superimposition of language and images to make non-rational standing against common precedent in the films at that time. His interest in using sound and silence reflects the use of the two for poetic purposes, especially in films he produces while in France. Harrah (1954, p. 163-174) explains the aesthetics of a film at this time. Fondane had no faith in language, mainly because he was in exile and because words could quickly put filmmakers in trouble for speaking up words that people in power did not want to be uttered to the public. His theory argued that sometimes words were an endless chatter, yet filmmaking was an art and a form of life, primarily if people used it to pass a message and communicate with the audience. Thompson (1980, 165) asserts that filmmakers had put their faith in the cinemas and used them as a form of expression in a world where trust was limited. Slowik (2013, p. 454) states that Fondane used the dramatic mode to express the issue by posing questions.
Sound practice and its experimental techniques to sound in the interwar era
Sound and film theories in the interwar era are mainly based on cinematic creations like those discussed by Benjamin Fondane. According to Fondane, sound was an experimental concept with two objectives: to provide an ideological and theoretical foundation for the film. The French garden cinema that was common during the interwar era provided comprehensive compositions of sound to represent the unique picture in the mind of the film created. Foundane asserts that the sound is interlinked between the image and the spectator. Fondane theories are critical in this analysis as they shape the experimental approach in analyzing the cinematic practices in various countries during the interwar era. Fondane was a philosopher, poet, and critic of the dramatic concerns of the cinema production world. His works published between 1925-1934 also indicate that he was an avid filmgoer, making his arguments logical and based on a comprehensive range of experience he had accumulated over time. As a scriptwriter for Paramount group, he took a critical stance as an intellectual observer of the film industry during this interwar era.
Slowik (2013, p. 450-471) explain that one of the significant criticism of Fondane, informed by his mentor, an existential thinker named Lev Shestov, was on the aesthetics theory of filmmaking and its visceral, experiential philosophy. Fondane was interested in the information that films were passing and then the language aesthetics and the use of silence in a film. Having vast knowledge and eventually becoming a literary critic, he began his critical work with Insula. This theatre group existed in 1922, and he extended his work to Jointville-le-Point in the 1930s and later in Switzerland and Argentina.
Fondane, who had been exiled, may be viewed as a cry of exile. For example, while in France, he challenged France’s existentialism and the dominance of reason and rationalism in the film industry. His cinema works were a form of modulation where he advocated for silence in the absence. For him, silence in a film was a form of expression of movement and a way to communicate transcendent language. To Fondane, sound and communication include the use of silence in the film. However, silence must serve a purpose to communicate what people do not want to say out loud, primarily because of fear or oppression.
The sound sometimes meant the use of music too. Kurt’s films in London contained music to pass helpful information. The German and French avant-garde films, however, omitted a lot of vital pieces of information in such music as well as Americans and Russians during this interwar period. The sound film domain stimulated possibilities from the language film previously portrayed as gospel truth. The clever use of sound in cinemas shows an extensive way of communicating using the exposition of the filmmakers and composers in cultist manifestos. The emotional index of sound-film combined with music brought more meaning to motion pictures in the cinema world. The complex and continuously logical way of developing sense in people saw composers use sound to express love, grief, and other fundamental freedoms that were unavailable due to various reasons, including tension after First World War. The uses of sound were sometimes for controversial and indirect expression, but also served as a creative way of entertaining people. Avant-garde filmmakers like Luis Buñuel and Jean Cocteau, both surrealist composers, used music to create shocking and strange audiovisual scenes in their films, such as in their 1930 production Le Sang d’un poète. The interwar era theory on the use of sound was thus experimented based and aligned to musical practices in the structural way or poetic composition at its fundamental core.
Baltag, V., 2020. The Nostradamus of Cinema: Benjamin Fondane and the Poetics of Films. In Balkan Cinema and the Great Wars: Edited By Adrian-Silvan Ionescu, Savas Arslan, and Marian Tutui. Peter Lang. https://doi.org.10.3726.b16414
Burke M. 2007. Eisenstein and the Challenge of Sound. Oxford University pp 1-4
Farmer, R. and Higbee, W., 2010. Jean Epstein and Photoge?nie: Narrative avant-garde film theory and practice in late silent era French cinema. 1-15
Harrah, D., 1954. Aesthetics of the film: the Pudovkin-Arnheim-Eisenstein theory. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 13(2), pp.163-174.
Lewis, H., 2018. French Musical Culture and the Coming of Sound Cinema. Oxford University Press. Pp 36–71 https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190635978.003.0003
Slowik, M., 2013. Experiments in early sound film music: strategies and rerecording, 1928-1930. American Music, 31(4), pp.450-474.
Thompson, K., 1980. Early sound counterpoint. Yale French Studies, (60), pp.115-140.
Winter, M.H., 1941. The function of music in sound film. The Musical Quarterly, 27(2), pp.146-164.
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