How Narration Uses Sound in the Movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel





How Narration Uses Sound in the Movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Sound in narration refers to all that the audience perceives in audio format. Sound is integrated to shape films through the heightening of emotions, provision of information, progression of the plot and mostly to depict the stories. Resonance can be used to simulate reality in order to make a film more compelling even in instances where the movie is scientifically incorrect. An example is a vacuum space, for the film to inform accurately of the void, no noise is used in the scene, because scientifically, sound cannot travel through an empty space. Sound entails three tracks, which are voice, sound effects and music. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a German and British co-production composed and directed by Wes Anderson; a farcical drama and comedy that makes use of sound to bring out its characters and scenes. Sound, under its three aspects of voice, effects and music, has been integrated to shape the film. Sound adds the value of the movie through enrichment of its contents and the way in which they are depicted.

Sound is applied to develop scenarios and objects that do not exist. The Grand Budapest Hotel is set in a place that does not exist. The only existent portion of the film is in the writer and director’s mind. Music is used to bring out the ideas of the author into life. The movie is set in a fictitious mountainous state on the brink of war. The state and its occupants have an Eastern European culture. To bring out this culture, the film is filled with Slavic music that entails Russian dances. This represents an empathetic form of music that is applied in the film. The music is composed of repetitive phrases that do not advance at the same rate as popular songs. The repetitive nature is associated with the Eastern European culture where dance changes, but the song does not. Sound effects such as the train engines and marching army validate the appearance of the Eastern European setting. All the character voices possess European accents making the environment and the actors more compelling.

Sound is used in narratives to bring out themes. The main theme in the movie is barbarism versus etiquette. On the onset of the movie, the director immediately integrates a jingle that varies up and down with a climbing semitone. A simplified bass shortly follows asserting an increase in momentum. A second tune is separately initiated into the play conflicting harmoniously with the first. The conflict slowly inputs a concept of chaos in the play that the audience identifies. This is applied to identify the barbaric theme at the beginning of the film. The two conflicting tunes compose into one song named Mr. Mustafa by the director and mark the first offset song in the film. The second song, A prayer for Madame, introduces the second part of the main theme. The song is made up of unified and beautiful melancholic melody with a simple bass, which creates an easy atmosphere. The two songs play sequentially under separate scenes in order to contradict the two aspects of the main theme. Barbarity is also depicted by use of non-diegetic sound effects. The clatter of objects as the army strolls down the mountain, the sound of war during flashbacks and chaos calamities give the film a general feel of barbarity. The sound effects go deeper to depict character barbarism. The volume, pitch and tones are heightened when characters enter into a rage. Corresponding actions under the rage are also heightened to add onto the barbaric atmosphere. An example is in Serge X using force to get a confession from Mr. Gustave concerning the death of Madame D. Serge X’s tone, pitch and actions are all heightened to highlight his inhumane nature.

Similarly, the theme of silliness is portrayed by use of sound. A diegetic sound is applied to portray the reversal of farcical silliness when characters Zero and Goustave encounter the psychotic family of Desgoffe Taxis. The scene is accurately depicted under the tunes of large snare drums played at the lobby in unison with the sound of a passing train. The locomotive emits strewn country music from its large brass organs and the blast of its minor chords. The mixture of the sound of the drum and the train produces a stern atmosphere that highlights the reversal of Zero’s moods from authoritative to silliness. The loud and chaotic music also generates a feeling of looming chaos as Zero prepares to confront the psychotic family. The voices of the characters also vary when depicting silliness. The family members of the psychotic family of Desgoffe all possess absurd, funny voices that relate with their silly nature. In a similar view, it can be observed that voice gives character.

Sound is used to define and validate the character played by an actor. The matching process of character and persona makes the role played by an actor more compelling and suitable. The pitch, tones and speech are matched with persona and image to ascertain the roles that will be played by the actors. Mr. Moustafa has a shrewd, high-pitched voice that matches his servant role in the film. The high pitch makes the character appear silly, convincing and cheeky which applies to his comedic role. Mr. Gustave, who is mature and is emulated by Zero, has a calm, low tone, low-pitched voice. The voice matches his authoritative role in the film. Serge X has a deep coarse voice that matches his brutal nature and rough physique. Voice in characterization is also applied in the separation of the actor from the role. Without voice, the audience is unable to distinguish the role the actor. If an actor in real life is serious and is given a comedic role, voice is one of the defining role factors. Using voice, the audience can relate to the comedic role of the serious actor. Voice has been used to define and categorize actors in the film industry mostly in voice-overs and animations. Music in the film is also applied to categorize and code the characters according to their preferences. The psychotic family of Desgoffe is attracted to loud chaotic music dancing to army songs. Their preferences categorize them as psychotic and attracted to bloodshed. Mr. Gustave, amongst other residents of the grand hotel, is pleased with soft and classy European tunes ranking them as high members of society. As sound is used to base character, it is also seen as an educative tool on the background of actor personas.

Sound provides the background to a story. Inner thoughts of characters are depicted through internal dialogues providing background information on reasons as to why the actors are behaving in a certain way. This is the on-screen application of sound to identify points that cannot be visually represented. Throughout the film, the audience cannot depict the main reason as to why Zero is sympathetic towards Mr. Gustave until the final stages of the film where a voice over is used. Here, Zero internally states that Gustave was born out of his time and was a victim to circumstances. Zero blames the events that have befallen his best friend, which include the death of his lover and Mr. Gustave’s cling to ancient ideologies concerning love and legacy to time. The character accents and dialects give the background information on the origin of the characters. The characters speak broken English mixed with Russian dialect. The accent is associated with Eastern Europe as the settings of the film suggests. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a story within a story. The director uses dialogue between Zero and the young author to inform on the background of the hotel and how Zero came to own the place. Sound here is again integrated to verify the background of the film through character conversations.

Sound is used to develop and express the moods and emotions in a narrative. Throughout the score of the movie, empathetic music is integrated to bring out the emotional aspect that fiddles between laughter and silliness. Repeating bass lines with melodies are increasingly accompanied with drums until the score sounds silly. The clash of tunes undercuts the chaos in the movie transforming it into absurdity, darkness, and whimsy testaments. The fights in the movie appear to be less chaotic as they entail comedic silliness in the music. The Lutz Police Militia march downward the mountain with brass fanfares, drums and twinkly instruments making the stride humorous. The climax in silliness in the movie stands out at the use of JG Jopling’s track. The chords, instruments, and form are all superbly used with the London Male choir singing a tune that creates a calm atmosphere at the start of the track. After a middle pause, the band and the choir compete with each other going over the top just to win. The musical chaos is funny enough with the combination of visual effects as characters run up and down the scenes dancing foolishly.

Similarly, anempathetic music is used to depict character moods and emotions in the film. When Serge X brutally mistreats Gustave into confessing on the murder of Madame D, a slow melancholic sound track is played in the background to depict the sorrow and helplessness that the character has as he faces life imprisonment. Another song is played when Gustave escapes from prison only to find that the town had turned into a political prison to reveal his disbelief and bad luck. Additionally, a high-paced song is played when the character finds out that he has inherited a valuable painting from Madame D to highlight his joy and happiness in moving from poverty to wealth. In the interrogation of Gustave, the actions of Serge X are heightened to reveal his rage and contempt for the crime. His pitch and tone are made superior developing a mood of supremacy in Serge X and one of submission in Gustave.

Sound increases audience anticipation and participation. Music applied to capture and guide the emotional responses of the audience. Music increases the levels of anxiety in the audience as it hands small clues on what will happen in the film. The crowd becomes more interactive with the play at some instances even singing along to the soundtracks. The Grand Budapest Hotel has integrated thirty-two songs that will facilitate audience anticipation. An example is the music interlude of “Up the Stairs/ Down the Hall,” which is played as Gustave flees prison. The song allows the crowd to relate with the emotion of freedom that the character has attained. Sound effects similarly add to the capture of crowd attention. Through the heightening of sound in specific scenes such as the prison brutality, the crowd can anticipate and react to the beatings that the actor gets. The best use of sound in increasing crowd anxiety as depicted by the movie is total lack of it. Absence of sound develops an instant atmosphere of anxiety as the audience waits and attempts to guess what will happen next. Sound in its absence or presence precedes an upcoming event building up tension. An example is the lack of sound when Gustave realizes he has been framed for the murder of Madame D. Sound shapes audience expectations and provides a platform for participation.

Sound formulates sync in what we see and hear. Synchresis, as normally referred, is the combination of visual and audio in a film. The synchronization process adds value to the film as it simulates reality and fiction, validates actions, and connects spectator responses. The visual and audio occur at the same time for the sync to be effective. Synchresis in the Grand Budapest Hotel is applied throughout the play. Examples of how the process adds a compelling value to the play can be seen in instances such as when the characters’ shower. The audience is able to see and hear the fall of water transforming the scene into reality. Another example is in Gustave being harassed by Serge X. It is common knowledge that in acting, fights and other dangerous scenes are not actually done. The scenarios are made through stunts and editorial processes. Synchresis when Gustave is punched refutes the common knowledge and makes the crowd believe that the character was indeed harmed.

Sound in the Grand Budapest Hotel has been integrated in the same manner as other films use it. Without sound, films become less appealing, informative, and entertaining. Sound is the pivot of films and any changes in the manner in which it is applied results in a proportional change in the audience. If a song with a high pace is used in a slow scene, the resultant effect is misinformation and development of incorrect moods in the audience. The manner in which music, sound effects, and voice were used in the film was sufficient to improve the effectiveness of the content. As depicted by the film, it is easy to intertwine or change the collective properties of music and sound effects. The two can be used interchangeably to out bring similar narrative aspects. This can be achieved by transforming all music in a film to become diegetic. Sound is descriptive, sentimental, informative, guiding, and entertaining. Given its properties, sound is an important factor in all narrations.










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