Arthur Honegger composed his first sound film scores in 1933–34. For Les misérables, Raymond Bernard, who was under contract at Pathé-Natan to direct big-budget theatrical films that would compete with Paramount's French-language productions, expected Honegger to provide intermittent orchestral underscoring for already filmed sequences that privileged dialogue over music. For Rapt, the musically trained Dimitri Kirsanoff used independent financing to collaborate from the start with Honegger and Arthur Hoérée on what the director called “a hybrid form … in which music, image, and dialogue work together.” The innovative electroacoustic and sound editing techniques in the soundtrack for Rapt have, I argue, overshadowed the strikingly reciprocal relationship between the soundtrack's more conventional instrumental underscoring and the images on screen. Honegger theorized in 1931 that, in sound film, music's “autonomy” would free it from the burden of mimesis. Instead, the images on screen would teach listeners about music's abstract “reality.” In practice, however, in Rapt, mimetic music and musicalized sound effects bridge the gap between aesthetic goals of hybridity and practical demands for intelligible dialogue. My analysis of the abduction, washhouse, storm, and dream sequences in Rapt demonstrates that a successful hybrid of sound and image ultimately has the potential not just to use images to pin down music's elusive “reality,” but also to use music's mimetic possibilities to influence our reading of ambiguous imagery. It also shows that music does not need to be in itself groundbreaking in order to contribute to groundbreaking innovations in sound film.

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