The Voice in Cinema

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Columbia University Press, 1999 - Performing Arts - 183 pages
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How can a voice whose source is never seen-such as Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey or the mother of Norman Bates in Psycho-have such a powerful hold on an audience? When does "synchronized sound" fail to link bodies to their voices, and how do such great stylists of sound film as Jacques Tati, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Marguerite Duras deploy the power of the voice?

In this brilliant essay, Michel Chion, internationally cited authority on the history and poetics of film sound, examines the human voice in cinema. The Voice in Cinema begins with the phenomenon of film's hidden, faceless voices and their magical powers, particularly in the context of Lang's Testament of Dr. Mabuse. Chion then explores subjective voices, bonding and entrapment by telephone, voice-thieves, screams (male and female), siren calls, and the silence of mute characters-all uniquely cinematic deployments. In conclusion, Chion considers "the monstrous marriage of the filmed voice and body" as embodied in Norman Bates. Claudia Gorbman's fluent translation retains Chion's sophisticated and accessible style, introducing readers to a distinct and paradigm-changing voice on film.

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About the author (1999)

Michel Chion is a composer of musique concrète, a filmmaker, an associate professor at the Université de Paris, and a prolific writer on film, sound, and music. His other books with Columbia University Press are Film, A Sound Art and Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen.Claudia Gorbman is a film studies professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma. She is the author of Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music (1987), the editor of several books, and the author of many articles on film sound and film music. She is also the translator of Michel Chion's Film, A Sound Art, Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen, and 2001: Kubrick's Cinema Odyssey.

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