Voice in Cinema
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Voice in Cinema

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Michael Chion
336 g
230x157x11 mm

How can a voice, whose source is never seen, have such a powerful hold over an audience? This text examines how directors have used the disembodied voice to build suspense in films. It looks at areas such as entrapment by telephone, screams of terror and the silence of mute characters.
I. Mabuse: Magic and Powers of Acousmetre1. The Acousmetre
2. The Silences of Mabuse
3. The I-Voice
II. Tamaki: Tales of the Voice
4. The Voice Connection
5. The Screaming Point
6. The Master of Voices
7. The Mute Character's Final Words
8. The Siren's Song
III. Norman; Or The Impossible Anacousmetre
9. The Voice that Seeks a Body
10. The Confession
Epilogue: Cinema's Voices of the 80's and 90's
How can a voice whose source is never seen--such as Norman Bates's mother in Psycho or Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey--have such a powerful hold over an audience? And how have such directors as Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock used "the being heard but not seen" to build suspense in films since the advent of "talkies" in 1927? In a brilliant exploration of a subject no one else has written on at any length, one of the foremost experts on film sound explores the mysterious power of the human voice-particularly the disembodied voice-as deployed in cinema. Michel Chion, author of Audio-Vision, analyzes imaginative uses of the human voice by directors like Lang, Hitchcock, Ophuls, Duras, and de Palma. The first part of The Cinematic Voice considers the hidden, faceless voice and its magical powers, particularly as used in Fritz Lang's Testament of Dr. Mabuse. Chion sees this film, produced at the dawn of the sound era, as a template for the voice in cinema. The middle section's five essays explore entrapment by telephone, voice-thieves, screams of terror, siren calls, and the silence of mute characters. Finally, Chion looks at "the monstrous marriage of the filmed voice and body" as figured in Psycho's Norman Bates. Claudia Gorbman's fluent translation introduces readers to Chion's sophisticated and accessible analysis in a work that established his reputation as a major voice in French film criticism.