Sound on Screen (6.1)

Cinephile 6.1, Sound on Screen

Submissions deadline: January 22, 2010

It has been nearly a century since film reels began including a soundtrack (though the cinema, of course, was never “silent”), yet there still remains a reluctance to tackle film’s symbiotic relationship with sound.  Despite significant interventions into the study of film sound, such as Chion’s Audio-Vision, and from other disciplines such as musicology, film studies continues to be dominated by the all-important image.  The recent advent of convergence culture — in which sound and image interact across a multitude of different forms, styles, platforms, and media — makes this lack all the more apparent, underscoring the need to expand critical approaches to sound on screen.

From a technological standpoint, the new century presents us with a vast spectrum of film viewing experiences, with IMAX and Dolby surround sound at one end of the spectrum, and YouTube clips on 2″ mobile phone screens at the other.  Where do we situate the aesthetic study of sound and image when an ever-growing number of users focus more on accessibility than quality?  Beyond home theatre systems and High Definition, we also encounter the commodification of the soundscape with the marketing of certain lifestyles through film soundtracks (some of which go on to massively outsell their original film, such as O Brother Where Art Thou?).  Marketing is a factor when it comes to auteur/star status as well, so how do directors operating as ‘curators’ of popular music soundtracks, such as Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson, alter our conception of the auteur?  Should there be a canon of the Aural Auteur?  Beyond such legends as Walter Murch and Bernard Herrmann, are there more unsung heroes of sound that have not yet received their deserved acclaim?

These are merely a few possible starting points; Cinephile is calling for a wide range of papers on any aspect of film sound/music in contemporary cinema. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Soundscapes on screen
  • Scoring violence
  • The quality divide and pro/regressions in film-viewing
  • Alternative uses of sound in international contexts, such as Bollywood
  • The evolution of sound effects and Big Sound (Dark KnightStar WarsTransformers, etc.)
  • Critical debates within the historical context of film sound (Chion, Altman, Belton, Donnelly, etc.)
  • Celebrity voice-over work in popular animation (Pixar, Dreamworks, anime, etc.)
  • The use of prolonged silence (There Will Be Blood, Antichrist, 4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days, etc.)
  • Live performance screenings, such as new scores to old films or Guy Maddin’s Brand Upon the Brain
  • The Aural Auteur (Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Sofia Coppola, Martin Scorsese. etc.)
  • Contemporary strain of musicals (Moulin RougeDancer in the DarkHedwig and the Angry Inch, OnceAcross the Universe, etc.)

Cinephile is the University of British Columbia’s film journal, published with the support of the Centre for Cinema Studies. Since its inception in 2005, Cinephile has been steadily broadening its readership and increasing its academic influence, featuring original essays by such luminaries as Slavoj Zizek, Barry Keith Grant, and Murray Pomerance. In 2009, the journal adopted a rigorous blind peer-review process, and moved to biannual publication, available online and in print via subscription. For more information, please visit

We accept submissions from both faculty and graduate students. Papers should be approximately 1500-3000 words, formatted in MLA, and submitted with a works cited and brief biography. The deadline for submissions is January 22, 2010. Submissions and inquiries should be directed to: