Chantal Akerman's sound strategies are defining elements of a unique film language noted for effects that feel close to direct experience and seem to approximate the passing of real time. Drawing from a range of Akerman's films, from Saute ma ville (1968) to No Home Movie (2015), five categories of sound that are of special interest in Akerman's films are considered: walking, talking, singing (music), exploding, and silence. Local examples are analyzed to give a sense of how, within these five categories, Akerman cultivated an overall tactic of desynchronization – often separating layers of sound from one another within the soundtrack, and always working the soundtrack as a whole against the visual image track – to amplify effects of immediacy and temporal complexity, and to generate layers of meaning powerfully but indirectly.
Walking, Talking, Singing, Exploding…and Silence: Chantal Akerman's Soundtracks
Barbara McBane is an award-winning feature film sound editor, freelance writer, and former Head of Critical Studies at the Pont Aven School of Contemporary Art in Brittany, France. She has taught film and gender studies at UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis, and film-sound post-production at Ardmore Studios in Dublin, Ireland. Her essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Art Journal and Film History.
Barbara McBane; Walking, Talking, Singing, Exploding…and Silence: Chantal Akerman's Soundtracks. Film Quarterly 1 September 2016; 70 (1): 39–47. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2016.70.1.39
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