Documentary by Midge Costin
When we stop and think about our favorite movies, I’d bet most of us have iconic images in mind: maybe it’s oranges falling on to the street, or Jack and Rose embracing on the Titanic, or a T-rex breaking through the fence. Those images are distinctive, but what makes these moments come alive is the sound we hear as we are watching. If you watch these moments without sound, I’m sure you’d be able to appreciate the cinematography, but it would not have the same effect and it would most likely not be as stirring or memorable.
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound is a documentary that focuses on the sound of films and the people behind the curtain. The word “art” in the title is key here, because this medium is a part of the creative process of filmmaking and shows that characters, story and emotions come to life through sound. Steven Spielberg said, “our ears lead our eyes to where the story lives”, and I believe Midge Costin really wanted to drive that point home with this documentary and shed light on a part of the industry that often gets overlooked and underappreciated.
This film offers a comprehensive look at the history of sound in movies and at how sound technology has changed the way we experience movies in theaters. It’s a very straightforward film that is extremely entertaining, insightful and nostalgic. I found myself enthralled by seeing (and hearing) how sounds were created and how each part of the process is meticulous, thoughtful and really artistic. The film features interviews with countless award-winning filmmakers, sound editors and mixers, composers, etc., and engages the audience in smart and sophisticated ways, making it accessible to a wide range of audiences. It offers great stories of how certain sounds came to be, and gives insight into the plethora of different people collaborating to make sure audiences experience the power of sound in film. I came away with a greater understanding of how sound truly shapes our film-going experience and a greater appreciation of the amount of effort, passion and creativity that goes into bringing a film to life through sound.