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The sound of the unsound: the role of film sound design in depicting schizophrenia and schizophrenic hallucination in The Soloist

Selway, Matt (2019) The sound of the unsound: the role of film sound design in depicting schizophrenia and schizophrenic hallucination in The Soloist. Sound Studies.

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Abstract

This article considers the crucial role that film sound design and music play in the representation of schizophrenia, with a particular focus on the construction of schizophrenic hallucination, in the Joe Wright directed film The Soloist (2009). In undertaking close textual analysis of the film’s blending of various sound effects, music, dialogue and language, as well as considering important production insights from the director’s commentary on the film’s DVD, this work explores the creative approach taken to portray the film’s biographical subject, Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Jr, and his schizophrenic hallucinations in the film primarily through the use of sound design and sound editing. Important areas considered include the context of the Hollywood biopic and its current fascination with the issue of mental health; the role of music and sound as a means of creating a compelling and nuanced psychological portrait in the film; and a consideration of the impact that hearing voices has for Ayers as a vulnerable and homeless black schizophrenic man, whose auditory hallucinations frequently manifest in ways that implicate racist discourses and racial anxiety in the onset and exacerbation of his mental illness.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: "This is an accepted version of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Sound Studies, on 22/02/2019 available online: https://tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20551940.2019.1576007"
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/20551940.2019.1576007
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA790 Mental health
School/Department: School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/3738

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