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By Charles O'Brien

The conversion to sound cinema is commonly portrayed as a homogenizing method that considerably lowered the cinema's variety of movie types and practices. Cinema's Conversion to Sound deals another review of synchronous sound's effect on global cinema via a shift in severe concentration: in distinction to movie studies' conventional specific obstacle with the movie photo, the publication investigates nationwide variations in sound-image perform in a revised account of the worldwide changeover from silent to sound cinema. Extending past fresh Hollywood cinema, Charles O'Brien undertakes a geo-historical inquiry into sound technology's diffusion throughout nationwide borders. via an research that juxtaposes French and American filmmaking, he finds the cultured effects of primary nationwide changes in how sound applied sciences have been understood. while the emphasis in Nineteen Thirties Hollywood used to be on sound's intelligibility inside a film's story-world, the rigidity in French filmmaking was once on sound's constancy as copy of the development staged for recording.

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Extra resources for Cinema's Conversion to Sound: Technology and Film Style in France and the U.S.

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Or, put otherwise, how have later generations of ¤lmmakers used, and transformed, the national cinema’s foundational sound-¤lm techniques? As the conclusion shows, old sound-¤lm techniques endure into the present, where, in new industrial and aesthetic circumstances, they continue to distinguish French ¤lms relative to those from other ¤lm-producing countries. 16 Cinema’s Conversion to Sound 1 Sound’s Impact on Film Style: The Case for Homogenization As an object of ¤lm-historical study, sound conversion, with its outstandingly complex mix of forces and conditions, imposes formidable demands.

An image whose sound is dubbed may, in phenomenological terms, differ radically from one whose sound has been direct-recorded, just as the same shot sequence might well take on a transformed stylistic identity through a change in the nature of the sound accompaniment. An awareness of this mutability was implicit in much of the ¤lm criticism in conversion-era France. As will be discussed in chapter 3, French ¤lms were typically categorized by sound technique, in recognition that the viewer’s experience of a ¤lm might vary considerably in light of whether the sound was direct-recorded, dubbed, or manipulated via some multi-track combination of both techniques.

For many countries, ¤lms from the United States were often key to the idea of sound cinema. The United States, the world’s ¤rst major sound-¤lm producer, had a two- to four-year lead on Europe’s major national ¤lm industries, which began experimenting with producing sound ¤lms commercially only in 1929—three years after the ¤rst Vitaphone productions. By then, the American ¤lm industry, Sound’s Impact on Film Style 23 which was already close to monopolizing distribution in parts of Europe, exported a backlog of dozens of sound features to countries with soundequipped theatres.

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