February 17th, 2004

Shutting your eyes at the movies

It was proposed recently, in a book called "What Art Is", that "one could readily grasp the gist of a [film's] story by listening to the soundtrack alone." (p 253)

Ever since I read this dubious declaration, I have been making notes, as I watch movies, of how much essential information is imparted in a movie by showing it visually. And I can tell you, listening to the soundtrack is going to be a frustrating experience. There are times when you won't know who shot who, or how the movie ended. And you definitely aren't going to know what "Rosebud" really meant in "Citizen Kane."

It would be an interesting, but horribly annoying, experiment, to have one person, say a husband, watch a movie without sound, the way you do in the airplane when you don't buy the headset, and to have the other person, say the wife, use the headset but with a blindfold on. When the movie was done, they could play against each other in a Reality Game Show, to see who had a better grasp of what had happened.

In a movie like "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the husband will win.

In a movie like "When Harry Met Sally," I believe the wife will emerge victorious.

I'm not saying it would prove much necessarily, but it might be fun to watch.

Off-rhyme of the day:

You might get the "gist,"
But you're going to miss
Lots of the rest.