“Sound crosses the Berlin wall of consciousness without alerting the border guards.” – Walter Murch (The Conversation, Apocalypse Now)
My list of films that feature unusual, expressive or atmospheric sound design. Films that push sound as an art form and narrative device in its own right rather than merely using it as an audio track to record dialogue and support the visuals.
Inevitably there is a big overlap with my Favourite Scores list, as many of my fave soundtracks (Birth, Fear X, anything by Lynch or Denis) tend to blur the boundaries between sound design and ambient musical architecture. Good for them!
Also inevitably, there are dozens of sonically important films I still need to see (hear), to name a few:
Once Upon a Time in the West
The Last Wave
Come and See
A Tale of Two Sisters
La Vie Nouvelle
In addition I’ve heard great things about the sound design used by directors I’m not yet sufficiently familiar with, such as Chantal Akerman, Leonardo Favio, Rolf de Heer and Lucrecia Martel, as well as in more films by Kurosawa, Bresson and Resnais. Everyone says Star Wars sounds amazing but I haven’t seen/heard it in about 20 years. Will update the list accordingly.Read less