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THE SOUND OF SILENCE

by Martinus
SILENCIO… Film theorist Bela Balasz on silence in film: “Silence, too, is an acoustic effect, but only where sounds can be heard. The presentation of silence is one of the most specific dramatic effects of the sound film. No other art can reproduce silence, neither painting nor sculpture, ’neither literature nor the silent film could do so. Even on the stage silence appears only rarely as a dramatic effect and then only for short moments.” “The experience of silence is essentially a space experience.” “How do we perceive silence? By hearing nothing? That is a mere negative. Yet man has few experiences more positive than the experience of… Read more

SILENCIO

Film theorist Bela Balasz on silence in film:

“Silence, too, is an acoustic effect, but only where sounds can be heard. The presentation of silence is one of the most specific dramatic effects of the sound film. No other art can reproduce silence, neither painting nor sculpture, ’neither literature nor the silent film could do so. Even on the stage silence appears only rarely as a dramatic effect and then only for short moments.”

“The experience of silence is essentially a space experience.”

“How do we perceive silence? By hearing nothing? That is a mere negative. Yet man has few experiences more positive than the experience of silence. Deaf people do not know what it is. But if a morning breeze blows the sound of a cock crowing over to us from the neighboring village, if from the top of a high mountain we hear the tapping of a woodcutter’s axe far below in the valley, if we can hear the crack of a whip a mile away­then we are hearing the silence around us. We feel the silence when we can hear the most distant sound or the slightest rustle near us. Silence is when the buzzing of a fly on the windowpane fills the whole room with sound and the ticking of a clock smashes time into fragments with sledgehammer blows. The silence is greatest when we can hear very distant sounds in a very large space.”

“In the film, silence can be extremely vivid and varied, for although it has no voice, it has very many expressions and gestures. A silent glance can speak volumes; its soundlessness makes it more expressive because the facial movements of a silent figure may explain the reason for the silence, make us feel its weight, its menace, its tension. In the film, silence does not halt action even for an instant and such silent action gives even silence a living face.”

“The physiognomy of men is more intense when they are silent. More than that, in silence even things drop their masks and seem to look at you with wide­ open eyes. If a sound film shows us any object surrounded by the noises of everyday life and then suddenly cuts out all sound and brings it up to us in isolated close­up, then the physiognomy of that object takes on a significance and tension that seems to provoke and invite the event which is to follow.”

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