Turning Up the Volume with Sub Titles
I watched Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Red" last night. It's the third film in his "Three Colours" trilogy. It's a French film so I was watching it with sub-titles. As soon as it started and the first line of dialog occurred I realized that the volume was about half way below normal and that I couldn't hear the speaking very well. Of great amusement to me was the fact that I immediately reached for the remote and turned it up despite the fact that I could read the sub titles just fine and wasn't going to understand a word regardless. This was the clearest example I can think of about exactly how import sound actually is. It really did make a difference from two respects. First the ambient sounds and secondly from the emotion in the peoples voices. The ambient sounds and music for this film weren't overly important. But, like probably just about every other film they are a layer to the experience that helps build the whole. Without them something, literally, would have been missing. Next up was the emotion in the character's voices. Stripped to the raw text, words have much less impact and their meaning seems much more vague. While you can put some of the visual clues together, trying to read movie dialog with no audio clues makes for a very different movie. This makes me think how hard it must be to go back and read a transcript of something like a trial where emotions are involved but only being able to see the text. I suppose it would be like reading a novel without any of the story surrounding the spoken parts.