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Analysisof Sounds in the Films “Do the Right Thing” and “ApocalypseNow”
Afilm contains many still images which when shown on the displaycreates an illusion of images in motion due to an optical deception.The major roles of any film are to pass information or to entertainits audience. However, for it to meet the objects both images andsounds must be incorporated during the process of producing a film.The audiovisual aspect of the film is an integral element thatcreates a sensual experience to its audience. Some principles guideindustries when recording or creating sound and then synchronizing itto the flow of images in a film. Some of the important concepts inthe film development include synchronous and asynchronous aspects,diegetic and nondiegetic aspects, and continuity and montage aspects(Garwood370).Many companies have employed sound to reinforce the mode of classicalcinema that shaped the dominant techniques of cinematography andediting. Integrating soundtracks and images in a film have increasedthe value and meaning of film production as an art. This paperanalyses the element of sound in the films "Do the Right Thing"and "Apocalypse Now." It discusses how the various aspectsof sound were incorporated to produce to the two quality films thathave a large audience across the world.
Analysisof Sound in the Film “Do the Right Thing”
Thefilm "Do the Right Thing,"an artwork of Spike Lee,focuses on a one-day scenario of lives of ethnically diverse peoplewho reside and work as a lower class community in Brooklyn
NewYork. However, this normal day event occurs on one of the hottesttimes of summer. The film concentrates on how the societal class,race, and moral choices that the actors in a play make have astraight impact on the way people interact with each other(Mitchell).The film has many characters that depict various traits. There aredifferent types of sound work that were used in developing thequality film. These sounds shaped a variety of scenes and the overallfeeling of the movie. The film soundtracks bear some of the aspectsof sound like synchronous and nondiegetic sounds that would bevisible in dialogue, sound effects, and music.
Asynchronous sound refers to the parts of the soundtrack that directlyand simultaneously corresponding to what is happening on the screen.It is visible in a scenario where two characters have a dialogue, andthe lips of the speaker can be clearly seen to be moving, and what heor she is saying is simultaneously heard on the soundtrack (Garwood371).It can also be applied where there is a bomb blast, thunderstorm, anda gunshot among others. When a character, for instance, is typing ona keyboard and the audience can see his or her fingers while hearingthe sound from the keyboard, then that is an example of a synchronoussound. In the film "Do the Right Thing," there are manyshreds of evidence of synchronous sound. The dialogue, whichconsisted of characters speaking to one another, is traced whereMookie (Spike Lee) and Pino (John Turturro) have a candidconversation about the race in the pizza shop (Valdez23).The audience of the movie can see how the lips of the two actors movesimultaneously with the sound from the speakers. At a scene, afterpolice killed Radio Raheem in responding to a war between RadioRaheem and Sal on the street, the characters scream out the names ofthe other people injured by the police violence. At that instance,the viewer can hear the sounds and see the shouting characters eventhough he or she cannot see the moving lips. The synchronous soundsreveal the traits of the characters, for example, in the dialoguebetween Mookie and Pino, the scene brings revelation to Pino`scharacter and at the same time shows the compassion Mookie has forPino`s conflicting feelings towards African Americans. Asynchronoussound, in contrary to the synchronous sound, is the part of thesoundtracks that do not directly correspond to what is happening.This is visible at the start of a scene where even though the camerais set on the silent Mookie, the viewer can hear sounds of invisiblecharacters who are yelling at Sal (Valdez27).
Diegeticand nondiegetic sounds are the two other important aspects the Leeused in development his film. Diegesis is the world of film story,that is, the characters, objects, events, thoughts, and sounds thatbelong to the film story are diegetic in nature (Garwood372).Nondiegetic sound comprises of elements like music that accompaniesthe film story as a background, but it is not anchored in the story.Some of the diegetic sounds in the film “Do the Right Thing”include the music that comes from the radio station, and the songsang by the characters. When Mookie talks to himself as he countsmoney, the audience could hear Mookie’s voice and the sound of thecoins, an evidence of diegetic sound (Mitchell). At the "Fight the Power" scene, Fight the Power, a popularsong by Public Enemy is playing at exceedingly loud levels as RadioRaheem and Buggin`Out enter Sal`s pizzeria. The song is playingthroughout the scene as a form of protest until Sal drowns it bydestroying the radio. The background music playing as the moviecontinues is an example of nondiegetic sound.
Theuse of editing all over the film has been particularly perceptible inthe shot pattern and the use of montages. By using the shot or thereverse shot, the direct opinions between the characters, forinstance, between Mookie and his sister Jade, were underscored cutsoccasionally occurred before one character finished putting his orher argument across, showing the other’s response and readiness toput across their own argument. Montages, like the one that showed thetechniques people were using to calm down, helped to set up a sceneand show a good condition over the whole extent where the storyoccurred
Analysisof Sound in the Film “Apocalypse Now”
ApocalypseNow, afilm by Francis Ford Coppola, spotlights the ironies that accompaniedthe Vietnam War and Western imperialism. The film is not an antiwarfilm, but it takes pains to reveal the atrocities of a war fought bythe United States that cheats the world with a fight for democracyand freedom (Norris).In the air strike, sampan, and bridge scenes, Coppola vividly depictsthe death and destructions that result from the involvement of theUnited States. American troops end up killing the innocent civiliansin the name of fighting for their rights. Like in Dothe Right Thing,the element of sound is vital throughout the whole of ApocalypseNow film.It contributes immensely to the high quality and popularity of thefilm because the soundtracks pass much information concerning thethemes of film.
Thesynchronous and asynchronous sounds are visible in the film. At thefirst scene of the film, Willard utters in voice-over the signals asa way of getting into the head of other characters. According toValdez(29), Willardshouted, "Saigon. Shit…. Still in Saigon." Theimplication of Willard`s shout is that he swears not to be involvedin the war again, and at the same time, it shows that he could notwait to get back to the jungle. The audience can hear the shouts ofWillard, and at the same time see the lips of the shouting character.At the AirCalvaryscene, the viewer can see the bomb blast and at the same hear thesound when Colonel Kilgore bombs a Vietnam Village (Norris).The same scene has some parallel sound editing, for example, as thechoppers blaring Wagner alternate with shots of a quiet village,where only the sound of children can be heard that illustrates theuse of asynchronous sounds.
Diegeticand nondiegetic sounds are also important aspects in the analysis ofsounds in ApocalypseNow. As the movie starts, the viewer hears the sound of one helicopterfrom the action of the scene flying over the jungle. This sound, eventhough it is synchronous, forms part of the diegetic sound becausethe helicopter is one of the objects found in the film (Garwood379.However, the viewer would continue, as he or she continues watching,would hear the song TheEnd by The Doors asa background, that is, a nondiegetic sound. When Jim Morrison startssinging, the audience hears sounds of more helicopters passing over.Although Morrison’s song does not go rhythmically to what ishappening on the scene, it gives the viewer a feeling of excitementand realism as he or she witnesses the actions in the film (Norris).The noises, birds, cricket, and other wildlife added to the sceneincreases the sense of reality to what is happening in the movie.Diegetic and nondiegetic sounds were used when the author introduceKurtz in the film. The viewers would hear a background sound of aninsane person. They would later be surprised that it was Kurtz whenhe later reads from the TimeMagazine.
Coppolaused a soundtrack that was faithful to the sounds of Vietnam War. Thesoundtrack was technically faithful, and reproduced the weapons andequipment that were used in entire film. Coppola was also faithful tothe mood of the war therefore, he applied frequent helicopters thatserved in ensuring that the cinema was classical through theautonomous sound space. The helicopters were sometimes used in arealistic manner, for example, during the attack on the VietcongVillage.
Inconclusion, the use of good soundtracks in a film enhances thepopularity of the film due to the high quality of the product. When afilm producer properly integrates synchronous and asynchronous soundswhen editing a film, the quality of the film will be outstandingamong other films. The editors should also apply continuity andmontages to helpin setting up a scene and portray a situation over the entire areawhere the story took place.
Garwood,Ian. TheSense of Film Narration. 2013:367-380. Print.
Mitchell,W. J. T., "Seeing Do the Right Thing." Critical Inquiry 17,no. 3 (1991): 596608.
Norris,Margot. "Modernism and Vietnam: Francis Ford Coppola`sApocalypse Now." Modern Fiction Studies 44, no. 3 (1998):730766.
Valdez,Walker. “Do The Right Analysis.” TheMagnificat Journal45(2016):22-31.Print.