Movies reflect the changing roles of men in the 21st century. Here is what our community says about the 2016 Oscar nominees in Sound Editing & Sound Mixing.
This post is part of our “Movies and Manhood” series that gives some of our regular writers an opportunity to share their views on how movies have impacted their thinking about men’s roles today. Our objective is to find the intersection between these films and the themes and topics we address here at The Good Men Project. Be sure to check out our other posts here.
One of the most critical components of a movie is the sound. We often attach more importance to visual effects, but great sound helps set the context and expand the imaginative world of a movie. Sound is so important, in fact, that there are two Academy Award categories devoted to sound: Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. For purposes of this post, we are combining these categories (although from a filmmaking perspective, they are two completely different things).
Consider how Mad Max: Fury Road features the sounds of machinery, weapons, conflict, the desert, and explosions. Consider how The Martian features the sounds of spaceships, technology, breathing in space suits, rockets, and at times, the absence of sound on a barren planet. Consider how Star Wars: The Force Awakens features the sounds of breathing (Kylo Ren’s mask), blasters, tie fighters, and lightsabers. This is not even to mention the sounds of Sicario, Bridge of Spies, and The Revenant.
We’ve asked our GMP movie panelists to comment on the sounds of the films in these two categories, as well as anything else they’d like to share. Check out their reflections and let us know your own thoughts on these 2016 Oscar nominees.
The GMP Perspectives
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Now ingrained into most western male consciousnesses, the newest movie in the Star Wars franchise includes sounds that stay true to the classic, and it’s quite a coming-of-age experience. These sounds were originally quite associated with a futuristic idea of a man truly going on the archtypical Hero’s Journey, and they overlay a similar journey in this movie. The voice of the roguish Han Solo is just as manly now than it was back then.
The Martian: There’s something about a guy doing it solo and surviving a desert planet that screams (or more like bellows) “Man.” All the sounds accompanying it back it fully, from explosions, his ongoing monologue, then to a custom Iron Man-styled propulsion from his space suit.
Mad Max: Fury Road: Although it’s set in the future, there’s something primal about Fury Road that enlivens our experience as a man. The taboo of a commonly accepted violence, which is held as normal in the movie, deepens the impact of these sounds. These sounds (along with the movie’s plot) strongly reflect what society could become without the agreed-upon order we mostly have today.
Elphie Coyle, The Good Men Project Author
The brilliance of Mad Max: Fury Road extends beyond the action, the acting and the brilliant costumes and landscapes. The one thing that pulls this movie together is the sound. Graphic when it needs to be graphic, and soft when it needs to be soft. The combination pulls us in even deeper into the world of Max’s unfortunate circumstances. Like an old Western, the sounds of Mad Max may not be a comfortable soundtrack for a run through the park, but it’s nothing less than perfect for what’s on screen and THAT is deserving of an award. Balance is key, and they knocked it out of the park.
B.K. Mullen, The Good Men Project Author
Bridge of Spies brilliantly captures the dilemmas of belief systems, the broad applicability of justice, and the true irony of a court system that universally aspires to innocence before proven guilty. Throughout this Cold War slice of life, based on a true story, our traditional notions of heroism, loyalty, patriotism, and personal duty are pushed, pulled, challenged, and ultimately proven impossible to resolve in existential continuity. To stand in the shoes of any of the film’s protagonists or antagonists is to experience how hard it is in life to know what is right or do what is right except in the most complex of relative circumstances. It is a true gem of thinking and character portrayal fully worthy of our attention and interpretation.
Ken Goldstein, Board Member and The Good Men Project Author
Looking over this year’s nominees, the phrase “scream queen” pops into my head. Girls on film, historically, are expected to scream—in pleasure, fear, pain, just about any emotion. Men grunt, bellow, battle cry, and howl. Listening to men breathing has become a popular trend not just this year, but for a while now. If you close your eyes and listen to a compilation soundtrack, I think you’d get the sense that men on film endure and survive, while women on film shriek and flee. Visually, women do a lot more than that in a lot more films, and especially in this lot, have much more to say than to scream—but without those visual cues, the sound of cinema often seems to paint a much more limited scene for both men and women to inhabit.
Edgar Wilson, The Good Men Project Author
Photo: Village Roadshow Pictures
Would you like to help us shatter stereotypes about men?
Receive stories from The Good Men Project, delivered to your inbox daily or weekly.