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Teen Trauma: Marianna Martin on “Serenity”

Teen Trauma: Marianna Martin on "Serenity"

A teenage girl, earlier described as “mentally traumatized,” has slipped loose of the vigilant care of her older brother, and descends the stairs of a crowded bar. The ambient sound of dozens of conversations—only a few words legible here and there—recedes as the girl’s attention fixates on a giant screen on the wall. The screen is playing a commercial advertising “Oaty Bar”, whose jaunty tune crescendos in pastiche J-pop style, accompanied by strange anime-styled images of an octopus and other oddities. The girl stares, transfixed, and a rushing sound starts to drown out the commercial jingle. Rapid cuts flash barely legible shots of what appear to be her memories, intercut with the visual of the ad and extreme close-ups of her face, and the ad jingle is rapidly mixed down in the soundtrack, dominated by the encroaching silence and a male voice utters “scary monsters.” Now all is silent, deafeningly so. The girl whispers a word, “Miranda,” and then in an aural vacuum, save for the sound of her own hits landing, starts an epic brawl. The transformation of River Tam (Summer Glau) from lost little girl to killing machine has taken less than thirty seconds and is signaled almost entirely by sound. Read the rest of Marianna Martin’s entry in the Reverse Shot Sounds Off symposium.

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