Everyone knows that all movies have sound, now, and that movies
also have scores to accompany them. What a lot of people (myself included) don’t
think about is everything that goes in to creating all the sounds that make a
movie seem real but not overwhelming. Once you really do start to think about
all the time and energy that goes into sound design you can appreciate the
sounds in movies a lot more than before you knew the long and involved process
of getting the quality just right. When doing sound design, you have to think
about the ambient sounds (traffic, wind, etc.), dialogue, artificial sounds, and
the score that are all required to aid the film on the journey it will take the
audience on. To gain a better understanding of how all these aspects come
together, I am going to look at some instances of the sound design in Mike
Nichols’ The Graduate (1967). 
       
Right off the bat, in the opening credits of The
Graduate
, there is an instance of sound overlap. There are announcements in
the airport and the song “Hello Darkness” by Simon and Garfunkel is playing in
the background. Since the audience cannot see the source of either of these
sounds they both qualify as non-diegetic sounds. The airport announcements make
sense for the scene, so we can attribute that to an overhead PA system that is
just not seen in the shots. The Simon and Garfunkel song is therefore attributed
to the score, because there is nothing else that calls for the song to be
playing during that scene. “Hello Darkness” is played three different times
throughout the movie, in the beginning, at the end, and the first time that Ben
gets together with Mrs. Robinson, thus being present for three major changes in
Ben’s character. 
           
Very soon after the opening, there is a scene when Mrs. Robinson asks Ben
to drive her home, and you can hear Ben’s fish tank going in the background
(although it is probably a bit louder than it would be in real life). When the
scenes transition from Ben’s room where they are talking to Ben driving Mrs.
Robinson home, a part major of the transition is the sound of the fish tank
fading while the sound of the car overtakes it as the lights come up on the
scene. This transition also takes place at another point in the movie with
Elaine Robinson when Ben is driving with her, although I don’t think that the
change is from fish tank to car engine, but it is essentially the same process. 
           
Towards the end of the film when Ben is frantically driving to the church
to try and stop Elaine from marrying Carl Smith, there is music playing in the
background. When time is almost out, of course Ben’s car runs out of gas. This
section of the score fits perfectly with the section of the movie. The score is
going along as fast as Ben’s car is, and it’s almost like the score is the car’s
engine, because once the car starts to slow so does the score. It is almost
imperceptible at first, but then it becomes more noticeable and that’s when the
audience’s hearts start pumping in anticipation and it all becomes real. 
           
Jack Solomon, the sound designer for The
Graduate
, did an excellent job with the sounds in the movie, especially
given the technology of the time. With that being said, there were some things
in the sound design of the movie that I found to be a little frustrating. Yes,
there is great attention to detail and everything that needs to make a sound
does, but there is not enough blending of the sounds to compare to what this
generation of movie goers are used to. There is not enough blending when there
is score, dialogue, footsteps, and other ambient noises in the same scene. Other
times, the background music is just as loud as the dialogue is, so it can make
it difficult to hear both of them at the same time and not be overwhelmed. Then
there are other instances in the film when Solomon understands that there is no
need for anything other than ambient sounds and dialogue, not every sound
designer appreciates that not every second requires music. 
 
Sound design is a complex task, and now that I have a better
understanding of it (though by no means a complete understanding of it) I have a
much greater appreciation for all of the movies and shows that I have seen and
the tasks that the sound designers have to accomplish. 
 
Sources Cited 

Prince, Stephen R. Movies and Meaning: an Introduction to
Film
. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc., 2013. Print.  

The
Graduate.
Dir.
  Mike Nichols. Perf. Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, and Kathrine Ross. MGM,
  1967. DVD.  

“The
Graduate”
.
IMDB. IMDB.com, Inc. 1990-2013. Web.
  14, Nov 2013.                                    
 
https://www.google.com/search?q=the+graduate&source=lnms&tbm=
isch&sa=X&ei=aZmFUozSK4eliQLIyYDIDg&ved
=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1366&bih=641#facrc=_
&imgdii=_&imgrc=UFrurj8aG3iblM%3A%3BKS1
GPjFG2myFOM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252F
static.squarespace.com%252Fstatic%252F504
4882284ae39da43a7fbe3%252Ft%252F519f6cc4
e4b00a20c48dc9cd%252F1369402567403%252Fthe%252520graduate%252520poster.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fnoctismag.squarespace.com%252Fblog%252F2013%252F5%252F24%252Fthe-graduate%3B1000%3B1500


 
 
Milos Forman created a masterpiece when he filmed OneFlew
over the Cuckoo’s Nest
in 1975, based on the novel by Ken Kesey. When 
I watched this film for the first time, I did not see actors portraying the
characters but the characters as real people that I felt for. The premise of
the film, is determining who is “normal,” or sane (both are relative terms),
and who is not in the mental institution that the majority of the film takes place in.       

The opening or establishing shot of the film is absolutely beautiful. It is
a shot of the sun rising behind a mountain; the only artificial or man-made 
thing in the entire shot is a pair of headlights that belong to the car bringing 
Jack Nicholson’s character, McMurphy, to the mental institution. If you did not
hear the music in the establishing shot, you would think that it was very
peaceful and that there was nothing wrong. There are some birds calling and the
sun rising, but there is also some slightly ominous or at the very least
unsettling music that gradually becomes noticeable. The score that Jack Nitzsche
wrote for this scene feels a bit foreboding, it is just unsettling enough to
make the audience think that not all is as it
seems, a common theme throughout the movie. At the ending of the film,
Forman essentially recreates this shot, bookending the movie with shots of
peaceful paradise. This closing shot seems to tell the audience that
everything is as it should be, whether they truly are or not remains
unknown but the audience is allowed to assume that things are as they
should be. That is the power that two simple and similar shots can have in 
one movie.   
 
As for the acting, it is absolutely amazing. I think that it is even more 
amazing now that I have an even better understanding of what all is required of 
the actors in a cinema production. The movie may be filmed out of continuity,
not in chronological order, there is not a lot of rehearsal time, the other
actors in the scene may not be present, and they have to make it their marks.
The actors have to do all of this and at the same timelook natural while doing
it and behave like there is no camera there. The actors in One
Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
achieve all of this and
I at the very least felt an emotional attachment to the characters very
early on in the film. At first, McMurphy is the only character that seems
truly human and because of that he feels unpredictable, like you literally
have no idea what he is capable of but you know that whatever he sets his
mind to he can do it. The other characters,inmates of the mental
hospital, are all very stoic and passive compared to McMurphy at the very
least. Granted these characters are all on meds so that is a
contributing factor, but they are almost not human. Throughout the
filmthough they regain their humanity and they become fully human
again through McMurphy’s help.  

When Billy (Brad Dourif) talks about his suicide attempt you feel his
pain, the acting is that good. When McMurphy throws the party, you can feel the 
happiness that the characters feel, same as when they all go fishing. It is a 
new experience for them to be happy; it is like they are experiencing the world
for the first time again. In the end (spoiler alert) when Billy commits suicide,
the despair and humiliation that he feels is like a physical thing in the room
with you as you watch it and I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him it
would all be ok if he would just hold on a little bit longer. Also when (spoiler
alert) the Chief kills McMurphy you can really tell that he thinks he is setting
McMurphy free because the Chief knows that McMurphy would not want to continue
on in the state of mind that he is in at that point, because the mental hospital
literally made him crazy by messing with his brain. 

Overall, this is a phenomenal movie and anyone who has not seen it should 
go and see it. That acting is incredible and so are the cinematography, 
directing, and producing. It is truly no wonder that the film won five Oscars, 
along with thirty other wins and twelve other
nominations. 
 

Sources Cited

One 
Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
.
  Dir. Milos Forman. Perf. Jack
Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, and Michael Berryman.
  Fantasy Films, 1975.
DVD. 

One Flew over the
Cuckoo’s Nest
.” IMDB.
IMDB.com, Inc. 1990-2013. Web. 24, Oct.
2013.

 Prince, Stephen
R. Movies and Meaning: an Introduction to Film.
6th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson
Education, Inc., 2013. Print.  
 
https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=
isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=641&q
=one+flew+over+the+cuckoo%27s+nest&oq=one+flew+o&gs_l=img.3.0.0l10.1613.3567.
0.4644.10.7.0.3.3.0.179.506.6j1.7.0....0...1ac.1.29.img..
1.9.353.SeHbbwwsG4Y#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=YuSLmqnn
476iJM%3A%3BXsGfOYigMRh5QM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%
252Fmediasnobs.com%252Fwp-content%252Fuploads%252
F2013%252F08%252FOne-Flew-Over-The-Cuckoos-Nest-
Movie-Poster.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fmediasnobs.com
%252Fmovie-review%252Fone-flew-cuckoos-nest%252F%3B1024%3B768
 
 
 
It is no wonder that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has
was nominated for and won so many awards when it was released in 1969, including
but not limited to Oscars, BFTA, Golden Globes, and many more. The entire movie
is incredible and there is too much to do an overall in one blog entry, so in
this entry I am going to focus on the cinematography (lighting and colors) of
the film. I am not going to look at the overall cinematography of the film
because that is still too much, so I will be focusing on color throughout the
film with regards to what it does to the audience’s perception. 
            
The film starts out in an almost black and white color scheme when Butch
and Sundance are in town casing the bank. It comes off as nearly black and white
because there is such low color saturation (intensity of the color), but as the
characters enter the wilderness and progress to their robbing of the train the
color saturation gets richer and richer very subtly. Speaking of the characters
going out into the wild, the film also employs an expert use of the rule of
thirds with the wilderness shots. In the rule of thirds, the camera is
positioned so that there are three distinct lines in the shot, in Butch
  Cassidy
when George Roy Hill (director) includes shots of the wilderness
  the lines are very clean. The mountains as the center, the prairie in the
  foreground and the sky line to complete the thirds of the shot. Moving back to
  color, the character Etta has a very interesting dynamic in the world of color.
  When the audience first meets her she is wearing very white and bright clothes
  and the sun is up providing a lot of naturally bright, happy lighting for the
  scene between Etta, Butch, and the bicycle. However, when they all move to
  Bolivia, Etta’s colors change. She is wearing darker colors such as the
  burgundy/red skirt suit, or the more neutral/natural tones when she is riding
  away from the bank job with the boys. This shift in color sends subliminal
  messages to the audience letting them know that Etta is now an accomplice in
  the robberies, no longer just the love interest of the two main characters. 
            
The way the traveling was shown through black and white pictures was
something I was unsure of when it first began, but it was able to provide the
audience with a lot of information in a short amount of time and it also showed
a lot more of the relationship between the three of them than certain dialogue
scenes are capable of. There is also the stark contrast of the black and white
photographs that switch to a very white and kind of washed out image of Bolivia
and the place that they end up living. There is also the contrast of the natural
colors used in the states throughout the movie such as the greens and browns,
but when they move to Bolivia the colors shift. In Bolivia there is a lot of
pale brown to the point of near white, there are deem maroon/burgundy reds,
deeper greens, and less dirt browns. The combination of all these color changes
helps emphasize that they are in an unfamiliar place and they need to adjust
very quickly in order to survive. 
          
There is very little true red shown throughout the movie, but when it is
used, it is extremely vibrant. There are two main times that the red is
intensely noticeable, the first is when Butch and Sundance are on the run from
the group tracking them and they have scratches on their faces, and the second
time is right during the final stand off and they are injured. Both of these
instances involve blood on the male leads of the film. The other colors present
throughout these scenes tend to be more natural/neutral, throwing the red blood
into a much sharper contrast than it would be when paired with other vibrant or
highly saturated colors. The blood, even in something as small as a scratch on
the face serves as a reminder to the audience that these characters are indeed
mortal. 
             
There are very simple things that cinematographers can do to create a
shift in emotion of the audience, such as a minute shift in the lighting, color
saturation, or even something as subtle as the camera angle. Many people are not
aware of these things until they study them; I know I was very blind to the
factors that enabled the film creators to manipulate my emotions until I began
studying them in cinema class. Cinematography is one of those parts of creation
that seem to fly under the radar of a lot of fans of the film, but
cinematography can make or break a film. It is complex, confusing, spectacular,
and subtle, and when done correctly it can change your world. 
 
Sources Cited

 Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
.
  Dir. George Roy Hill. Perf. Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katherine and Ross.
  Twentieth Century Fox, 1969. DVD. 

Butch Cassidy and the
Sundance Kid
.” IMDB. IMDB.com,
Inc. 1990-2013. Web. 12, Oct. 2013. 

Prince, Stephen R. Movies and Meaning: an Introduction to
Film
. 6th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc., 2013.
Print.  

https://www.google.com/search?
hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source
=hp&biw=1366&bih=641&q=butch+
cassidy+and+the+sundance+kid&oq
=butch+cass&gs_l=img.3.0.0l10.2816
.5086.0.6319.10.8.0.2.2.0.61.404.8.8.0
....0...1ac.1.28.img..0.10.446.1oCb6E8H6o8
 

    Author

    I am a sophomore in college and I started this blog as part of a class.

    Archives

    October 2013

    Categories

    All