New Approaches

Focus: Audio History of Film | All

Focus: Audio History of Film

The study of film sound and its relationship to history is still in its infancy; only limited research has been conducted on topics such as sound recording for film and its relationship to contemporary history, or the status of film sound in the production of historicity and in discourses of film reception and film marketing. Against this background, the present focus, Audio History of Film, embarks on novel research avenues and explores productive new perspectives. Audio history of film is a field that provides the missing link between film studies, sound studies and historical studies. It investigates how film sound can generate and shape audiences’ experience of history. The concern of this focus lies not just with the aesthetic dimension of film sound production, but also with its material, technical and cultural dimensions and their potential to model and produce history.

  • Macro of 35mm film and audio tracks: Sony SDDS, Dolby Digital, analog Optical and DTS time code.

    Macro of 35mm film and audio tracks © CC 3.0 by Rotareng.

    Winfried Pauleit
    Rasmus Greiner
    Mattias Frey


    The relationship between film and history has assumed many and varied forms over the course of time. During the twentieth century, film increasingly became a medium through which contemporary political and historical events were discussed and interpreted. Cinematic narration of history influenced twentieth-century film production in myriad ways and constantly challenged “classical” historiography, especially its function of disseminating historical knowledge.

  • Winfried Pauleit

    Prominent Moments of Cinematic Self-Reflexivity

    History produces sound recordings. And sound recordings shape history in turn. This interrelationship is clearly attested to in recordings of historical voices, such as that of John F. Kennedy’s speech before the Schöneberger Rathaus in Berlin on June 26, 1963. Sections of this recording have taken on a life of their own, becoming iconic sound bites over the course of their frequent rebroadcasting, not least Kennedy’s famous phrase “Ich bin ein Berliner”.

  • JEW SUSS: RISE AND FALL, Oskar Roehler, D/AUT 2010

    JEW SUSS: RISE AND FALL, DVD Concorde Video © original copyright holders.

    Mattias Frey

    Language and Dialect in the Historical Film

    The pursuit of authenticity is film’s dominant mode of historical representation. For the overwhelming majority of historical film makers and audiences, authenticity signifies a realistic historical experience, an effective suspension of temporal-spatial disbelief. Authenticity, as the engine of mainstream historical filmmaking, has three chief functions: as an aesthetic strategy, a reception discourse and a marketing discourse.


    WALTZ WITH BASHIR, DVD Pandora Film © original copyright holders.

    Rasmus Greiner

    Sound Design and History

    This article explores the role played by film sound in the audio-visual construction of historical dimensions of experience. This exploration does not treat the auditory level in isolation but considers how it interacts with moving images, montages, aesthetic and narrative concepts within the audio-visual histosphere.