Watch a Short Video Essay on the “Sounds of Aronofsky”

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
May 16 2012 4:00 PM

Did You See This? The "Sounds of Aronofsky"

Still from Sounds of Aronofsky
In a Darren Aronofosky movie, even the sound of tiptoeing can be loud.

Still from "Sounds of Aronofsky."

Brow Beat sometimes enjoys singling out a filmmaker’s particular stylistic tics and signatures, and we’re not alone. Vimeo user kogonada has carved out a niche for doing this in the form of video essays on the web. He specializes in just this one type of video essay, and his work is remarkably consistent: Before we posted his compilation of Wes Anderson overhead shots, and then his compilation of Quentin Tarantino’s shots from below, he had already published a popular compilation of point-of-view shots from Breaking Bad.

Now kogonada has turned his microscope on the sound effects of Darren Aronofsky, director of Black Swan, The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and Pi. As the video highlights, Aronofsky uses an unusually heightened style, examining many actions at only a nose’s length—and the sound effects, which sometimes make the tiniest noises sound almost thunderous, match that approach. In some particularly unusual and even cartoonish cases a single sound effect tells a whole action: A slurp (over a jump cut) represents eating, a ka-ching from an imaginary cash register represents a sale.

These extreme close-ups and equally magnified sound effects are most well-known from Requiem for a Dream, in which they’re used to parallel various kinds of addiction (not just hard drugs but others like television and coffee), and this cut is particularly heavy on inserts from that film. It’s lighter on shots from Black Swan and The Wrestler, for which Aronofsky largely reinvented his style. But the video makes clear that Aronofsky didn’t do away with these techniques completely. Regardless of the differences, I agree with what the last shot seems to suggest about these effects: They’re all pretty transporting.

Every Wes Anderson Overhead Shot of Hands, Scored to Music
One Difference Between Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 


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