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Type: Thesis
Title: Penser l'écran sonore : les théories du film parlant
Author: McCann, Mark
Issue Date: 2006
School/Discipline: School of Humanities
Abstract: The thesis, entitled Penser l'écran sonore : les théories du film parlant ( Thinking the sound screen : theories of the talking film ) aims to provide at once a survey and critique of such theories as have explicitly addressed themselves to film conceived of in its essence as a carrier of acoustically produced meaning. This position would seem to be the merest commonplace, however, review of the literature will show that the study of the cinematic sound object as such was hardly carried out in any systematic manner before the 1980s and the groundbreaking work of Rick Altman, Michel Chion, and Claudia Gorbman. Perhaps the most simple manner of illustrating previous theoretical approaches to this topos would be to indicate the " polar " extremes which mark the limits of the discursive space within which their coverage is inscribed - pessimism and mourning for the silents ( Balász ), dizzying mysticism ( Eisenstein ), Marxian ideological analysis ( Adorno and Eisler ), and various practical suggestions for filmmakers of the type proposed by Reisz and Spottiswoode. The thesis is divided into three along the familiar lines of sound qua sound - concerning that which is valid for all types of sound in the cinema - the voice in cinema, and cinema music. The main approaches to these objects can be similarly broadly characterised as semiological, second - wave semiological, ( i.e. semiology plus psychoanalysis ), cognitivist, and technopragmatic. The intention is to interrogate the merits and the defaults of these approaches by applying them to a range of problematics arising in the three areas listed above. It would of course be ideal if all approaches were to deal with identical questions, however, the internal dynamics of the various methodologies evidently privilege the framing of one question over another : in my opinion this presents its own interest, as the questions which can ( and, perhaps more importantly, cannot ) be posed within a given discursive structure are most revealing of the theoretical framework itself. The importance of cinema sound considered as representation rather than as simple transcription is insisted upon throughout. The limits of multichannelling are established as not greatly extending those already established by stereo. The practice of direct sound - of sound recorded on location or on set in real time - is found to have a distinctly theological dimension. The notion of subjective time as it is experienced by the spectator in the cinema is examined at length. A prominent feminist model of the functioning of sound in the cinema is found to be most unsteady. Finally, an aesthetic of the sound film which utilises the potential of the medium to the highest degree is proposed. A consideration of the lacunae in the field - which remain possibilities for further study - and an extensive bibliography complete the survey.
Advisor: Fornasiero, Frances Jean
McCann, Paul
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2006.
Keywords: cinematography, motion pictures, sound effects, acoustics
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