David Cronenberg’s sound design

The new flesh makes all sorts of noises (most are squelching).


By Meg Shields Published 8 July 2022

Welcome to The Queue – your daily distraction of curated video content from across the web. Today we watch a video essay that unveils the sound design of Canadian director David Cronenberg’s films.

Ah, I love the smell of distended flesh and creaking machines in the morning.

Canadian director David Cronenberg is a man of many talents. His filmography easily straddles the line between genteel drama and grotesque genre image. And it’s no surprise that the soundscapes of his work are equally eclectic and identifiable.

Whether he works in a dramatic or grotesque space, Cronenberg’s films have a remarkable tactility. The world in a Cronenberg is something you can touch (and, depending on what movie you’re in, he’s all too happy to touch you back). Keyboard strokes have an indomitable weight; the engines sputter and hum with a strange lividity; and the soft, sticky skin hollows out under the pressure of instruments and wandering hands.

There’s an argument to be made that the power of body horror is, in large part, auditory. For all the iconic imagery in the subgenre (the vast majority of which comes from the Baron of Blood himself), all that unpredictable, mute flesh loses a degree of its potency if you can’t hear it. A broken forearm during an arm wrestle (Fly) different hits when you can to listen the spoke snaps like a twig. A man exploring the gaping wound in his own chest (Videodrome) loses a good deal of its impact if you don’t hear the muffler. An exploding head (Scanners) is all the more impactful when your ears are gratified with the sound of brain matter suspended in the air.

So listen, if you dare, to the films of David Cronenberg:

Watch “Hearing David Cronenberg | A Lesson in Sound Design”:

Who did this?

This video on the sound design of David Cronenberg’s films is courtesy of the good folks at little white liesa UK-based film-obsessed magazine. Luis Azevedo is the director behind this video with Bruno Medeiros serving as associate editor. you can follow little white lies on Twitter here. And you can check out their official website here. You can subscribe to their YouTube account here.

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Related Topics: David Cronenberg, sound design, The Queue

Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor to Film School Rejects. She currently directs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How’d They Do That? and Horroscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman’s “Excalibur” on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She she).

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