By- Salina Wall
In class breaking up and interrupting a movie was brought up multiple times. The majority of movies are meant to be viewed in one continuous session, with no interruptions. This inspired me to deliberately interrupt a movie repeatedly and constantly to see how it would change pacing, continuity, and general ambience of the film.
The next step was choosing the movie which turned out to be very simple for me. First I thought about which genre would be impacted the most by constant interruptions. Drama and horror are the two that popped out to me the most because they are genres that rely heavily on suspense and I was curious to see how well the suspense could be maintained through pausing the movie.
I also wanted it to be a fresh experience for me, I have watched a lot of horror movies in my life and a lot of the scary parts are scary because they are unknown. If I watched a movie I had already seen I felt that it would have changed the outcome of this little experiment. When I took each break I took note of if I remembered what happened when I left off, and how I felt. Knowing what was going to happen would have negated all of that.
The movie I chose is Berberian Sound Studio (2012), it is roughly 90 minutes and is about a sound engineer who uses real sounds in his horror movies. I decided that every 5 minutes I would pause the movie and take a break for at least 5 minutes which would definitely break up the movie enough for my liking.
Break #1- The 5 minutes barely got through the opening credits, and I was introduced to the main character but not much else happened. It’s early on but it already seems like a tedious process, however once things really get going I might welcome the reprieve every 5 minutes. I don’t have the best short term memory so coming back from the break I don’t even remember the main characters name, which doesn’t bode well for me.
This movie is one that has a slow build, so the way that I am viewing it is honestly the least optimal way to do it.
#2- I remembered his name is Gilderoy and so far the continuity hasn’t seemed to take a hit, but not much has happened either. I did learn that it is set in maybe the 60’s or 70’s as all the equipment is quite old. I did take a longer break this time around and nearly forgot why he was in the conversation that started up again.
A lot of the dialogue is in Italian which means that there are quite a few conversations that don’t make any sense to me, and the pauses really exacerbated that.
#3- While engaging this movie is slow paced and taking frequent breaks really doesn’t help it along.
#4- This is definitely a movie that is meant to be watched in one continuous sitting, and I will be watching it again because of that. It gives the viewer a taste of what the past was like for Foley artists and sound engineers, but a lot of that is lost because of the interruptions.
The music in this films is very crucial to the overall ambience. Having it cut is what is drawing me out of the film the most.
#6- Berberian Sound Studio is set in Italy so much of the dialogue is in Italian and there were deliberately no subtitles in the theatrical release so it does create more of a barrier and the more breaks I take I feel like I’m losing more and more of the film. But it does try to make the viewer understand, just before this break there is a woman whispering on a recording and the shot zooms in on a planner that maps out the different sounds/sound effects being used so we vaguely know what is going on. At this moment I believe it is the confession ballad.
I worked at a radio station recording people for commercials so I find it very impressive just how technically correct this film is.
#8- Again it feels more disjointed especially as the plot develops and I remember less and less what happened at the beginning. There are more horror aspects starting to creep in as Gilderoy starts to lose his sanity. There is a scene showcasing what Foley art entails so I will link to it here if you want to watch.
#9- This is a rare breed of horror movie that makes the viewer wait and builds up tension throughout the entire thing. I am now 45 minutes in and nothing scary has actually happened but I feel unsettled during each 5 minute interval. David Lynch does something similar in his works by building up suspense and never offering the release of a jump scare; like in Twin Peaks and the never ending fear of Bob.
This movie isn’t a traditional horror movie where there is a ton of blood, gore, and jump scares, in fact there are none of those things. Yet I find myself feeling unsettled and a little claustrophobic due to the tension.
#12- 1 hour in is when Gilderoy starts to lose his sanity. One unexpected benefit of watching a movie this way is being able to recall the bigger plot points and almost exactly when they happened, because it’s watched in such small chunks and I’m able to reflect on them better. The small things still tend to elude me.
#13- Almost immediately after the last break there is a big plot twist that made it very difficult for me to pause the film.
#14- Even through the multiple pauses the suspense that the film builds up is very present, although somewhat diminished.
#15- The scary parts are right at the end of the movie, it felt like forever getting to it although the rest of the movie is excellent. I attribute this to all of the pausing as it does literally make the viewing longer in real time.
#16- There was another plot twist and the scenes get more and more erratic as the movie goes on. This unique way of viewing actually assists these scenes because it makes them seem even more out of place.
After this break was the last couple of scenes and the end credits and I didn’t have anything new to comment on so I’ll give my final thoughts. First of all this is a fantastic thriller/suspense movie- I wouldn’t count it as a horror- that somehow went under my radar, and I will definitely be revisiting it. Second of all this experiment yielded expected and not-so-expected results.
The pacing was off the entire movie, dramatic scenes were cut in half, as were sentences so it was difficult to keep track of what people were saying, and the slow scenes were prolonged because of the added breaks. The continuity was something I struggled with, especially with longer than 5 minute breaks. I would end up forgetting conversations, names, and plot lines throughout the film. However out of all of these I found the ambience to take the biggest hit. With thriller and more suspenseful movies it is important to build that tension with lighting, dialogue (or lack thereof), and music. Taking frequent breaks all but shatters the suspense and made it a much less scary movie than it would have been otherwise.
That brings me to the unexpected bonuses of this technique. If someone gets afraid easily this is an excellent way to alleviate their fears, and I even found myself thankful for the short reprieve from a particularly tense scene. Also towards the end of the movie the scenes get more erratic and eclectic which was helped by the interruptions because it made those scenes even more disjointed than they already were.
All in all this was a very interesting way to watch a movie and made me appreciate the classic way of viewing cinema.