Film, a Sound Art

Michel Chion. Translated by Claudia Gorbman

Columbia University Press

Film, a Sound Art

Pub Date: July 2009

ISBN: 9780231137775

560 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $36.00£30.00

Pub Date: July 2009

ISBN: 9780231137768

560 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£88.00

Film, a Sound Art

Michel Chion. Translated by Claudia Gorbman

Columbia University Press

French critic and composer Michel Chion argues that watching movies is more than just a visual exercise—it enacts a process of audio-viewing. The audiovisual makes use of a wealth of tropes, devices, techniques, and effects that convert multiple sensations into image and sound, therefore rendering, instead of reproducing, the world through cinema.

The first half of Film, a Sound Art considers developments in technology, aesthetic trends, and individual artistic style that recast the history of film as the evolution of a truly audiovisual language. The second half explores the intersection of auditory and visual realms. With restless inventiveness, Chion develops a rhetoric that describes the effects of audio-visual combinations, forcing us to rethink sound film. He claims, for example, that the silent era (which he terms "deaf cinema") did not end with the advent of sound technology but continues to function underneath and within later films. Expanding our appreciation of cinematic experiences ranging from Dolby multitrack in action films and the eerie tricycle of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining to the way actors from different nations use their voices and words, Film, a Sound Art showcases the vast knowledge and innovative thinking of a major theorist.
Michael Chion's books on film sound... have been revelotory syntheses of an expansive knowledge in elegant, accessible prose. Dell Tamblyn, Film Comment
Exceedingly teachable and surely welcomed by instructors.... Film, a Sound Art is indubitably an asset to the study of cinema. Kyle Stevens, Film Criticism
Preface to the English Edition
Translator's Note
Part I. History
1. When Film Was Deaf (1895-1927)
2. Chaplin-Three Steps into Speech
3. Birth of the Talkies or of Sound Film? (1927-1935)
4. Jean Vigo-The Material and the Ideal
5. The Ascendancy of King Text (1935-1950)
6. Babel
7. The Time It Takes for Time to "Harden" (1950-1975)
8. The Return of the Sensorial (1975-1990)
9. The Silence of the Loudspeakers (1990-2003)
10. On a Sequence from The Birds: Sound Film as Palimpsestic Art
Part II. Aesthetics and Poetics
11. Jacques Tati, the Cow, and the Moo
12. The Disappointed Fairies Around the Cradle
13. The Separation
14. The Real and the Rendered
15. The Three Borders
16. Audiovisual Phrasing
17. Alfred Hitchcock: Seeing and Hearing
18. The Twelve Ears
19. Orson Welles: The Voice and the House
20. The Talking Machine
21. Faces and Speech
22. Andrei Tarkovsky: Language and the World
23. The Five Powers
24. God Is a Disc Jockey
25. Max Ophuls: Music, Noise, and Speech
26. Like Tears in Rain
Glossary
List of Illustrations
Index

Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Winner, 2017 Richard Wall Memorial Award, Theatre Library Association

About the Author

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 books with Columbia University Press are The Voice in Cinema 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, 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 The Voice in Cinema, Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen, and 2001: Kubrick's Cinema Odyssey.