ISSN: 17514193
First published in 2008
2 issues per volume
Volume 5 Issue 2
Cover Date: October 2012
Inside the outsider’s ear – hyperacousia and marginalized character identification
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Authors:  Jennifer O’Meara 
DOI: 10.1386/st.5.2.121_1

hyperacousia,point-of-audition,Michel Chion,Hal Hartley,Noah Baumbach,Murray Smith

In this article, Michel Chion’s notion of hyperacousia (a character’s hypersensitivity to sounds, including inaudible ones) is used as the basis of analysis for sound design in The Unbelievable Truth (1989) by Hartley and Greenberg (2010) by Baumbach. I argue for the significance of hyperacousia to film character construction, as well as audience identification with these fictional personalities. In particular, I consider point-of-audition as a counterpart to point-of-view shots. Murray Smith’s cognitive approach to character identification is drawn on and developed from the perspective of the audioviewer’s access to subjective sound. Hyperacousia is suggested as a valuable channel for audience identification with a character, particularly marginalized ones, as well as a means through which sound can create an increased sense of interiority, something generally considered difficult to achieve in cinema. I argue that, in both films, a feature is made of the subtle sound effects, and that dialogue plays an important role in signposting these for the audience.
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