Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Ryan Gosling in Talks for 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' Ryan Gosling in Talks for 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Damien Chazelle's 'La La Land' You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents Watch: The New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Has Landed Watch: The New 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Trailer Has Landed Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 'Queen of Earth,' Starring a Gloriously Unhinged Elisabeth Moss, Goes to IFC 'Queen of Earth,' Starring a Gloriously Unhinged Elisabeth Moss, Goes to IFC Cary Fukunaga Takes Over Long-Stalled 'The Alienist' as TV Series Cary Fukunaga Takes Over Long-Stalled 'The Alienist' as TV Series Why the Istanbul Film Festival Cancelled Its 2015 Competition Why the Istanbul Film Festival Cancelled Its 2015 Competition MTV Movie Awards 2015: The Highs, the Lows and the Winners List (Videos) MTV Movie Awards 2015: The Highs, the Lows and the Winners List (Videos) Arthouse Audit: 'Ex Machina' Leads Four Big Openers, Kristen Stewart Opens 'Clouds of Sils Maria' Arthouse Audit: 'Ex Machina' Leads Four Big Openers, Kristen Stewart Opens 'Clouds of Sils Maria' From 'Boyhood' to 'Boy Next Door,' the 2015 MTV Movie Awards Noms Are All Over the Map From 'Boyhood' to 'Boy Next Door,' the 2015 MTV Movie Awards Noms Are All Over the Map 25 Years Ago I Wrote: "Hollywood's Female Stars An Endangered Species" 25 Years Ago I Wrote: "Hollywood's Female Stars An Endangered Species" The New Ladder: Anatomy of Indie Women's Picture 'Farah Goes Bang' The New Ladder: Anatomy of Indie Women's Picture 'Farah Goes Bang' Here's the First Image of Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix in Woody Allen's 'Irrational Man' Here's the First Image of Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix in Woody Allen's 'Irrational Man' Reese Witherspoon Nabs 'Luckiest Girl Alive' with Lionsgate, with "a wily, intelligent, complex narrator" Reese Witherspoon Nabs 'Luckiest Girl Alive' with Lionsgate, with "a wily, intelligent, complex narrator" Kristen Stewart Explains How She Held Her Own with Juliette Binoche in 'Sils Maria'--and Won a Cesar Kristen Stewart Explains How She Held Her Own with Juliette Binoche in 'Sils Maria'--and Won a Cesar Scientists Choose the 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies Ever Scientists Choose the 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies Ever Ryan Gosling Reveals How and Why He Shot 'Lost River' Ryan Gosling Reveals How and Why He Shot 'Lost River'

Immersed in Movies: Sound Designer Paul Ottosson Talks 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood December 26, 2012 at 3:00PM

Sound designer/re-recording mixer Paul Ottosson creates the year's most complex and disturbing soundscape with "Zero Dark Thirty," easily surpassing his work on "The Hurt Locker," which earned him two Oscars. Indeed, his strategy of maximizing audience identification with the obsessive CIA officer, Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, brilliantly complements the narrative thrust of the acclaimed, if controversial, fact-based thriller about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden.
0
ZeroDarkThirtyChastain
Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty."

Sound designer/re-recording mixer Paul Ottosson creates the year's most complex and disturbing soundscape with "Zero Dark Thirty," easily surpassing his work on "The Hurt Locker," which earned him two Oscars. Indeed, his strategy of maximizing audience identification with the obsessive CIA officer, Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, brilliantly complements the narrative thrust of the acclaimed, if controversial, fact-based thriller about the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Not only was Ottosson concerned with conveying authentically naturalistic sounds, but also ethereal ones as well that have more of a subliminal impact. Such was the case with the "enhanced interrogation" sequences involving waterboarding that have dominated and politicized the discussion of the movie.

"The waterboarding scenes are very naked and very sterile and it becomes harder to fill it up with lots of [sound] elements because you start thinking about the outside world," Ottosson contends. "It's more focused on what you see on the screen, which is horrifying."

As with "The Hurt Locker," Ottosson recorded sounds with the Erhu (a spike fiddle), courtesy of his wife, Karen Han, who is a virtuoso with the instrument. It's processed and distorted in a very unusual way yet plays organically. "There's a helicopter coming in before it starts," he adds. "The buildings rattle some and out of that I sneak in these other ethereal sounds that give us a natural in; then by the time the helicopter rattle dissipates, you don't know that it's already been introduced. There's only about an hour's worth of score [by Alexandre Desplat], so I use these ethereal sounds quite a bit. I needed ways of transitioning in and out without telling the audience that I was introducing something new and unreal. It's visceral and more of a dreadful feeling.

"I try to convey things from the person with the strongest point of view in the scene. And this is the first time that Maya witnesses the torture. She's disturbed by what she sees and so are we. But then she becomes so obsessed with the capture of bin Laden and even participates in the interrogation to obtain her goal. At that moment, I don't play these sounds anymore because, like us, she understands why we have to do this and it's not as appalling. I play up some of the outside sounds to show that she's in control and driving forward."

This article is related to: Immersed In Movies, Zero Dark Thirty, Features, Jessica Chastain, Production , Interviews


E-Mail Updates