Silence Is Deafening

         In the world of modern film there is a consensus of what the movie should portray. This includes certain social truths. Within these truths there is such a strict regiment that the audience, Americans in particular, desire to see on the silver screen. The status quo needs to stay intact through the endeavors of the plot; if the story does not end happily there could be major problems with critics and how the film is understood by the viewers. Often plots include love and loss, then rekindling spirits and the inevitable happy ending. If a film is ended in such a way that disrupts this order, a sequel is expected for the purpose of befitting the social moral force a force which has tried very hard to be uncompromising especially when it is questioned.

         However, with all the complexity of the story a challenging element of the motion picture is often overlooked. The sound of a film is one of the main components that are taken for granted more than it is recognized. Without sound, such as music, the tone of a scene cannot be fully developed. Along with music come other sounds to add to the growth of the film, which are presumed in the current era of film to have always been present. The era of sound, more specifically talking, in films was brought about relatively soon after the initial creation of the motion picture. Movies have not been the same since the addition of sound.

         During the early years of film in the 1900's in order to understand a story, viewers were required to read emotions through exaggerated hand gestures and odd looks given from one character to another. This could cause problems for the audience and direct them astray from the actual meaning of the film, leading to confusion of the overall plot. This confusion was later taken away completely when "talkies" were created in the 1920's and 1930's. No longer would the audience have to guess emotion and rely on facial expressions to analyze the meaning of a certain action portrayed by a character. The addition of sound to film brings out the reality of the motion picture.

         In 1915 D. W. Griffith directed The Birth of a Nation. This silent film was very controversial and found to be racist by many people. If this film would have been shot in the era of sound, I believe it would have been considered much more racist than it was. Sound would have given the actors the ability to use profanity and vulgarity in addition to the physical acts of violence and discrimination that were already shown. If sound were to be present in this film I do not think it would be allowed to be shown in schools because of the potentially detrimental effects on the audience. The brutality would have been able to be vocalized and portrayed in a more incisive manner instead of the subtleties found in the current version.

         The inclusion of sound and talking in films has opened many doors to the possibilities of other aspects found in the motion picture. The lines between reality and fabrication are dwindling with every advancement made in productions. Moving forward in technology has become a catalyst for such aspects of current film such as third-dimension viewing, surround sound, and screens with such measurements of those classified as IMAX. Sound was one of the early steps forward from the first silent films, which stood as the precedent for all the future contributions to the art of film and film making. All of these progressions begin as visions from people with an eye for what the future of cinema holds and the possibilities of an endless imagination.

Lyndsey Staples

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