University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

The architecture of film sound: the construction of sonic space in Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger

Newland, Paul ORCID: (2023) The architecture of film sound: the construction of sonic space in Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger. Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, 17 (1). ISSN Online: 1753-0776 Print: 1753-0768

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In this article I examine the spatial relationship that develops between sound, architecture and character identity in the films of Michelangelo Antonioni. Looking at specific examples drawn from The Passenger (1975), I argue that while Antonioni developed an interest in the dramatic possibilities of architectural structures (in particular, striking examples of modernist architecture), his films often also develop highly complex sonic evocations of architectural space which take on an architectural form. I show how the sonic architecture of these films (the sonic spaces linked to represented individuals and architectural structures) functions to create space between characters and structures, spaces between fixed points, and between surfaces and reflections. I want to focus specifically here on the ways in which film sound and music can also display architectural qualities which can facilitate the construction of spatiality and, by doing this, can facilitate narrative and characterisation. The key structural elements of architecture are those that constitute the skeleton of a building (beams, columns, slabs, domes, arches, for example), and the elements that constitute the skin of a building (walls, windows, shells and membranes). Architectural structures can also contain a range of other identifiable aspects, including lines, curves, angles and spirals, and have other distinguishable decorative characteristics such as colour, textures, patterns, and contrasts. I will show that carefully designed and constructed film sound worlds can share such key architectural characteristics. Looking at examples drawn primarily from The Passenger (1975), I will show that while Antonioni developed an interest in the dramatic visual possibilities of architectural structures - especially striking examples of modernist architecture - his films also feature complex sonic evocations of architectural space which serve to evoke the existential experience of his characters.

Item Type: Article
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Antonioni, Sound, Architecture, Space, Place
Divisions: Central Services > Directorate
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Depositing User: Paul Newland
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2022 14:23
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 09:37

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