Saturday, June 21, 2014

Berberian Sound Studio [Britain, 2012]

Nine Things about the Movie Berberian Sound Studio

1.This mindbender is a movie about making a movie. It’s partly a drama, and partly a tribute to the giallo films of the 1970’s. It’s by a fairly new director, Peter Strickland.

2. It’s about a shy, introverted foley artist (that’s the guy in charge of sound effects in movies) named Gilderoy that makes a trip to Italy to work on a film that he thinks is about horses. Gilderoy discovers the movie is actually a horror movie, and he is responsible for making the torture and killing scenes sound realistic. This does not sit well with the more peaceful nature of Gilderoy, and he has trouble doing it.

3. The producer and director of the horror film are rude, egotistical, and sexist. Their behavior gets progressively worse. The horror scenes get more extreme. Gilderoy is feeling more stressed and uncomfortable. 

4. Eventually, his reality begins to crack. He starts to become detached, and the boundaries of his life get fuzzy. And then, well, it’s hard to explain what happens next. He seems to slowly become fictionalized. His life transforms, in bits and pieces, into the movie he’s working on. I think.

5. While the movie being made is a horror film, we never see any of it.The director of the real film, Strickland, reverses everything. Instead of seeing the various tortures and murders being depicted, we just witness the ways in which the various sounds of it are created. This makes the movie quite educational.

6. Fans of 1970’s Italian giallo directors like Argento and Fulci will appreciate the camera work and the soundtrack of this movie (and the one in it).

7. As you might suspect, this movie is all about the sound. Pay attention to how and when sound is created, used, and repeated. They provide one of the few clues to what is actually going on.

8. It’s hard to say if the movie actually means anything, or if it is just a “Twilight Zone”-ish head scratcher. If Strickland is trying to say something deeper about movies, or life, or whatever, it probably comes from the fact that the killers in giallo films stereotypically wore black gloves and a trenchcoat. Look for where that shows up in this film.

9. This is an impressive film for the director, who had only made one film before this, with his uncle’s inheritance money. It’s a creative, strange tale of movies and madness. And lots of garden vegetables.