Chapter 21Sound Design and Finishing

Before the 1930s, documentaries—like all films—were a fundamentally visual art form, with images providing the entire narrative experience. Films like Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North (1922) and Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera (1929) were silent, and sound was incorporated almost exclusively in the form of live musical accompaniment played during the screenings. The films made under John Grierson at the Empire Marketing Board were among the first documentaries to include sound in the form of narration, music, and ambience, often to creative effect. Song of Ceylon (1935, Dir. Basil Wright), about the Ceylonese tea trade, begins with images of people and places in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) (Figure 21.1 ...

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