Features and Columns · Movies

It is Time To Listen: The Sound Design of David Cronenberg

The new flesh makes all kinds of noises (most of it is squelching).
Crimes Of The Future Ear Guy
By  · Published on July 8th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that unpacks the sound design in the films of Canadian director David Cronenberg.

Ah, I love the smell of distended flesh and creaking machinery in the morning.

Canadian director David Cronenberg is a man of many talents. His filmography straddles the line between distinguished drama and grotesque genre picture with ease. And it should come as no surprise that the soundscapes of his oeuvre are similarly eclectic and identifiable.

Whether he’s working in a dramatic or grotesque space, Cronenberg’s films have a remarkable tactility. The world in a Cronenberg is something you can touch (and, depending which movie you’re in, is all too happy to touch you right back). Keyboard strokes carry indominable weight; engines splutter and hum with uncanny lividity; and soft, sticky skin dimples under the pressure of instruments and wandering hands alike.

There’s an argument to be made that body horror’s power is, in large part, auditory. For all of the iconic images of the sub-genre (the vast majority of which come from the Baron of Blood himself), all that unpredictable, sloughing flesh looses a degree of its power if you can’t hear it. A forearm breaking during an arm wrestle (The Fly) hits different when you can hear the radius snap like a twig. A man exploring the gaping wound in his own chest (Videodrome) looses a good degree of its impact if you can’t hear the squelching. An exploding head (Scanners) packs that much more of a punch when your ears are graced with the sound of airborne brain matter.

So listen in, if you dare, to the films of David Cronenberg:

Watch “Hearing David Cronenberg | A Lesson in Sound Design”:

Who made this?

This video on the sound design of David Cronenberg movies comes courtesy of the fine folks at Little White Lies, a film-obsessed magazine based in the United Kingdom. Luís Azevedo is the director behind this video with Bruno Medeiros serving as assistant editor. You can follow Little White Lies on Twitter here. And you can check out their official website here. You can subscribe to their YouTube account here.

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.